Indonesia: Notes

Language: Orthography

(a) Bahasa Indonesia has always been written with Latin letters without diacritics. In 1945 the orthography was heavily Netherlands-affected. There were two official spelling reforms, always referred to as Ejaan Republik (ER) (17 Mar 1947) and Ejaan Yang Disempurnakan (EYD) (16 Aug 1972).

The main change mandated by the former of these is the replacement of "oe" by "u", a clear departure from Dutch. The latter reform is intended to make Bahasa Indonesia more consistent with Bahasa Malaysia, which originally was British-influenced. (The reform did not affect vocabulary).

(b) All official records are currently kept in EYD. A significant problem is, however, the practice of many persons to retain the "old" spelling, and this itself is not consistent. The main example is that of (ER and EYD) Sukarno, who all his life signed his name Soekarno; although Sukarno was used in official documents from 1947. This problem is addressed by recording each name in EYD, and adding any significant "older" spelling in parentheses, as if it were a transliteration. Thus, the names are recorded as, e.g.,

  • Sukarno (Soekarno)
  • Baharuddin Yusuf Habibi (Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie)