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Surprising similarities between Indonesian and English

Hello everyone, There are some similarities I've noticed between these two languages and I'm not talking about words that sound similar. What I mean is a word, that in English for example, has MULTIPLE meanings, that has an Idonesian equivalent with the same (different) meaningS.

One example:


1st meaning:

Tidak ada apotek di dekat sini.
There is no pharmacy near here.

In this sentence the words dekat/close mean close in distance/not far away.

2nd meaning:

Aku dan dia tidak dekat.
She and I are not close.

Now this means another thing. We are not talking about physical distance here, but describing the relationship between these two people.

"Dekat" doesn't seem to be a european loanword, so how did it come that "dekat" and "close" have the same possible meanings? I hope you understand what I'm trying to say, I would have expected there to be another Indonesian word for "close" (in the 2nd meaning).

Another example:


1st meaning:

Aku tahu bahwa dia suka daging ayam.
I know that he likes chicken meat.

Knowing a fact.

2nd meaning:

Aku tahu dia.
I know him.

Knowing about the existence of someone/something.

I hope you can see the difference there. If you happen to speak German or French, there are two different words for the 1st meaning (German: "wissen", French: "savoir") and the 2nd meaning (German: "kennen", French: "connaître"). Then why aren't there also two words for those two meanings in Indonesian? I've noticed this also with other words but I think I'm not giving more examples.

Have there been changes made, when they took Malay and created the standardized version of it which we know as Indonesian, which were maybe influenced by the English language? One language having evolved in europe, the other in southeast-asia, I don't understand how they can have similarities as the ones I've mentioned. Is this all just a coincidence?

August 6, 2019



A common misconception people often have is grossly overestimating the influence of the English language on that of the Indonesian language. There are actually more loan words in the English language that were taken from the Indonesian language than the other way around. Words in the Indonesian language that may seem similar to comparable English words can be most often attributed to the fact that the Dutch and English languages are both West Germanic languages and of course share many similarities, both loaning from the Germanic word pool and not necessarily from each other. The Dutch language's influence on the Indonesian language was far more pervasive as a relic of Dutch colonization.

And as far as disparate languages necessitating words which serve similar meanings or other language functions, it is estimated that humans have a mere 0.1% genetic diversity among themselves, so the way humans think and the need they have for certain words to fill certain purposes is more often to be similar than dissimilar.


Well, I think that you could find such similarities with a lot of languages. Enlarging the subject, how is it possible that Turkish has more words from French origin than from Persian or Greek, for example ? I saw a list of 6400 Turkish words from French origin ! And as I am French, I see very easily that words. Even if the reverse is also possible, but much more rare.

Look at koaför and coiffeur. Look different but exactly same prononciation. And if you a little of Turkish, it is obvious that koaför is of a foreign origin.

To be closer to your discussion, look at the expressions. Some are quite different from a language to another but some are exactly the same.

If you say il pleut des chiens et des chats in French, it means nothing. The translation is : it is raining cats and dogs. But some are exactly the same, words after words.

For the expressions there is a French site dedicated to. It is "expressio".

Link : http://www.expressio.fr/

It is in French, but you will find there equivalent expressions in several languages.

An example : voir midi à sa porte = to see midday at one's door (!). It means : to each his own.

Link for this expression : http://www.expressio.fr/expressions/voir-midi-a-sa-porte.php


The relatively large number of French loan words in Turkish is probably a result of many elites in the late Ottoman Empire (post-Tanzimat) as well as the early Turkish Republic having a liking and affinity for the French language and culture. For instance, I believe Ataturk himself was a Francophile and spoke French. So even after the Turkish language was supposedly "Turkified" after the formation of the Turkish republic, it wouldn't be surprising that many French words still continued to be use, especially by those in the major cities, who were subjected to more European influence.

In the same vein, many words of Arabic/Persian origin were also deliberately excluded in a bid to make the Turkish language hew more closely to its supposed Turkic origins.

You can read this Wikipedia article for more information: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Replacement_of_loanwords_in_Turkish


2nd meaning:

Aku tahu dia.
I know him.

I know him ==> Saya kenal dia


The reason is that words simple convey ideas or thoughts ... so ideas that are similar will often, but not always, be expressed by the same words irrespective of the language spoken.

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