Languages of India and Indonesia

by Liani MK

Behind every language lie narratives of migration and human experience. We unearth connections within a word and wonder—what is the story here? These questions emerge when we find that Sanskrit words like bhaasa, for ‘language’, is also found in the Malay/Bahasa Indonesian word bahasa—and realise that language is more than just a device for communication. It holds a powerful anecdote of cultures and movements that can show us how we are more connected than we think, and result in a strong sense of belonging.

A world within a word
Language families in the two nations
India’s search for a national language
After 15 years: Attempting a lingua franca
The case for Indonesia
The making of Bahasa Indonesia
Languages in India
Languages in Indonesia
Evolving forms
Disclaimer: Our stories have been researched and fact-checked to the best of our abilities. Should you spot mistakes, inaccuracies, or have queries about our sources, please drop us an e-mail at
In collaboration with
Liani MK / Freelance Writer

Liani is a freelance writer/scriptwriter whose works span areas of culture, history and language. When she is not wrestling with words, she enjoys wandering into nature, and the equally hypnotic worlds of art, film, gamelan and capoeira.

Illustration / Sharan Markala
Voice / Nidhi Gupta, Elangovan s/o Shanmugam, Arnab Roy, and Dewi Fitzpatrick
Recommended Stories
Kontinentalist's - Latest Stories Stamp