Indonesian is the sole national and official language of Indonesia. However, there are more than 300 languages in the archipelago. For most Indonesian the language of the home is one of those regional languages.

Colloquial Jakartan Indonesian is one of the varieties. This style of language is in many ways significantly different from the formal language of government and education, to the extent that it deserves separate consideration. It has become the prestige variety of colloquial Indonesian and the standard informal style, language of everyday communication between Indonesian in all but formal situation. It is the everyday speech of people with whom most visitors to Indonesia need to communicate.

‘Colloquial Indonesian’ is employed here to refer to the informal variety of Indonesian originally identified with speakers from Jakarta but which is now used widely by speakers in other large Indonesian cities and by the mass me- dia. It is also called by other names such as Jakartanese (Errington 1986), Collo- quial Jakartan Indonesian (Wouk 1999a; Sneddon 2006), and Informal Jakartan Indonesian (Sneddon 1990, 2002, 2003), which indicate the geographical origin of this variety.

Other terms used by Indonesian linguists and laypersons alike do not specifically suggest a geographical origin but rather its key characteristics. For example, bahasa tak baku ‘non-standard language’ indicates that it is distinct from standard Indonesian, bahasa informal ‘informal language’ sug- gests its informal character, bahasa gaul ‘social language’ indicates that it is the language of social interaction, while bahasa ABG ‘teen language’4 and bahasa remaja ‘youth language’ suggest that it is predominantly used by young people.

Thus for the foreign learner proficiency in both formal and informal – this means Colloquial Jakartan Indonesian – is essential for effective communication. It is also essential to have an understanding of the appropriateness of styles so that each style is used in the correct social context.

This chapter will explain colloquial words usage, syntax(sentence structure) and morphology(word structure). The description is confined to aspects of colloquial Indonesian where there are significant differences with the formal Indonesian.

Reference: Colloquial Jakartan Indonesian (Pacific Linguistics, 581) by James Neil Sneddon (2006)


For more information or articles about colloquial, colloquial Indonesian, colloquial Jakartan Indonesian by Dr. Timothy Hassall from ANU, Canberra, Australia, click here.

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