Do you know that Bahasa Indonesia is one of the most widely spoken languages around the globe?
According to World Almanac in 2005, this lingua franca of Indonesian people ranked number 8 with its speakers worldwide reaching 260 billion. Surprisingly though, Bahasa Indonesia is not commonly brought up to the eyes of the world. To have a closer look at this national language of Indonesia means to get acquainted first with its origin. In a nation prided itself on its possession of over than 700 native languages and a vast array of ethnic groups, Bahasa Indonesia, categorized under Austronesian family language, plays a crucial cross-archipelagic unification role for the country.
Linguistically speaking, Bahasa Indonesia tends to be simple and uncomplicated. Probably no language is truly simple as I claimed the aforementioned language to be, but the kinds of complexity can be very different. Certain languages have very elaborate verb conjugations or noun declensions, for an instance English. Some others have grammatical gender of masculine, feminine, and neutral (like French, Italian, German, etc). Bahasa Indonesia, on the other hand, comes up to be tenseless.
By being tenseless means that there is no such thing as tenses to signify present, past, future, and pluperfect in Bahasa Indonesia. In addition to that, no conjugation is necessary and mode is just optionally used as well. In spite of this absence of grammatical units, it doesn’t mean that Bahasa Indonesia doesn’t recognize the concept of past, present, future time. The question is, then, how do you identify when the action takes place? The answer lies in an addition of adverbs. We simply can replace them by inserting time-qualifying words somewhere in the sentence.
Take this example, in Indonesia, what in present continuous tense is “Dia sedang menulis surat ((S)He writes the letter now)”, in past tense would be “Dia menulis surat minggu lalu ((S)he wrote the letter last week)”, and in the future “Dia akan menulis surat besok ((S)he will write the letter tomorrow)”.
However, it’s worth noting that Bahasa Indonesia is not the only language without tense and conjugation. There are other Asian and Scandinavian languages that express a sense of time identifier within their sentence in a way that is not complicated too. Now for those who seek to be a polyglot, this simple language might be taken into consideration of what language you want to learn next.