Language In-Focus: Indonesian

Language In-Focus: Indonesian

Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation in the world and so Indonesian – its official language – is widely spoken. Known as Bahasa Indonesia, it is a member of the Austronesian language family and a standardized register of Malay. According to the latest Ethnologue figures, it is spoken by 23.2 million people in the country, while a total of 160 million speak it as either a first or second language.

On top of this, most Indonesians will also speak one of the over 700 indigenous languages in the archipelago, although companies will almost always focus on localizing into Indonesian.  

As you can see, it is a diverse and rich part of the globe and so brands cannot expect to engage its inhabitants without appealing to them in their native language. This is why localization is so important, as it is the only way to ensure consistent brand messaging when launching products or services.

However, adapting the language, appearance and functionality of a product or website for Indonesia can present a series of challenges for companies. 

Problems and challenges

When it comes to text translations, the main issue is to make sure the vocabulary and grammar chosen are correct. There are a large number of loan words in Indonesian, many of which have near-synonyms from multiple sources, which makes context all important. Both the subject matter and target audience will play an important role in the grammar used. Colloquial language can also differ greatly from standard Indonesian in both regards.

Indeed, the relationship between text and context will drive the whole process. If translators simply convert words and terms without considering the importance of contextualization, they will end up altering the original point of the message. 

For firms using audio localizations, the main issue is the vast array of regional dialects that are spoken in Indonesia. This means choosing the right voice talents is essential and so the target audience needs to be kept in mind at all times. Brands do not want to jeopardize a launch by running an advertisement voiced by a person from the wrong part of the country. 

Getting it right

While there are challenges associated with localizing in Indonesian, by following the right plan a high quality final product is attainable. This is where translation and localization tools come in, as they can reduce cost and improve efficiency.

For example, repetitive text and previous translations stored in translation memory can be used to speed up the process, as previous experience can be leveraged. On top of this, consistency of style and terminology used by translators and editors can be ensured. However, it's important to only use tools that comply with Translation Memory eXchange (TMX), a global localization standard.

Best practice

Of course, the best way to avoid these headaches is to use a specialist localization provider such as EQHO. With over 15 years' experience of localizing in Indonesian, as well as a host of other languages, we can make sure the process runs smoothly. 

The nature of the content does not matter, as from standard business translations through to the most complex of technical disciplines, we're well equipped to handle any project successfully and efficiently. 

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