Linguistic pragmatism, lingua francae, and language death in Indonesia


  • Yvonne Sewell



linguicide, language death, lingua franca, indigenous languages, Indonesia, Bahasa Malaysia, linguistic instrumentalism, linguistic pragmatism, colonialism, reginal indigenous heritage languages


Indonesia holds incredible linguistic diversity with up to 750 distinct languages. According to the Indonesian Language Association (ILA), 728 native languages are spoken in Indonesia, whereas Kompas cites 720, Ethnologue (2005) lists 743, and LIPI reports 749. In 2016, UNESCO indicated that 139 native Indonesian languages were threatened with extinction, which makes up for almost 17% of their languages. In Indonesia, due to ideals of nationalism and to an extent, modernisation, Bahasa Indonesia poses the biggest threat to indigenous languages. After defining some key terms and giving an overview of Indonesia’s language policy, three Indonesian linguistic landscapes will be described through a lens of linguistic imperialism, followed by recommendations for the preservation and revitalisation of regional indigenous heritage languages (RIHLs).


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How to Cite

Sewell, Y. (2022). Linguistic pragmatism, lingua francae, and language death in Indonesia. Journal of Language Teaching, 2(11), 15–19.