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If asked what language is spoken in Indonesia, most people would likely answer, “Indonesian.” That’s true—Indonesian is the official language of the country, and it’s used as the lingua franca to connect people in all parts of Indonesia. But only around 80% of Indonesians speak the language, and most don’t speak it as their first language. Since Indonesia has more than 700 languages spoken across its various islands, most Indonesians speak a local language natively, and that’s even the case for many people in Jakarta. A large swath of Jakartans speak Betawi as their native language.


According to the 2000 Indonesian census, 5 million people in the country speak Betawi, mostly in the Jakarta region. However, the exact figure is difficult to pin down due to difficulties in defining linguistic boundaries. Betawi is known for its strong influences on Indonesian slang in Jakarta, but speakers of Betawi proper tend to be older, putting the language at risk of endangerment. Thus, there are hardly any translation firms with a Betawi translation team—except TranslationServices.com, of course. We’re proud of our Betawi translation services.


You can see a quote for our Betawi translation services if you just request one, entirely for free!


Betawi: Jakarta’s indigenous language

Betawi is native to Indonesia’s sprawling metropolis of Jakarta, the capital of the country. Much of Indonesian slang is inspired by Betawi, propagated through TV shows and media produced in Jakarta. Called Colloquial Jakarta Indonesian, this vernacular form of Indonesian, which has pushed out other dialects of Malay, is heavily based on Betawi, but Betawi is, ultimately, a separate language. Linguists debate the origins of the language—some argue Betawi is a variant of Malay, while others believe it developed as a creole language.


It’s believed that Betawi developed through contact with Chinese men and Balinese women in the modern-day territory of Jakarta. The language incorporates elements from a wide range of languages, including Hokkien Chinese, Balinese, Sundanese, Javanese, Arabic, Portuguese, and Dutch. Notably, Betawi contains multiple pronouns for the same person, some with Hokkien Chinese roots and others derived from Arabic. An interesting feature of Betawi is its numerous short interjections that serve as introducers of sentences, with one expressing surprise, another conveying dismay, yet another calling for attention, and an additional interjection carrying the nuance of the English “come on, let’s ….”


A team ready to translate to and from Betawi

Betawi is a unique language and a precious cultural treasure of Jakarta, which is why efforts must be made to preserve it. Despite the language’s grammatical complications, our translators are eager to take on this challenge, translating both from Betawi and into Betawi, depending on your needs. Old documents or literature in Betawi are fair game—just send them to our team for faithful translations into English and disseminate them freely to an international audience. In a similar vein, we’d love to help you translate research questionnaires, educational content, or books, games, websites, apps, and more into Betawi. After all, the more content there is in Betawi, the better the language can be preserved and passed down to future generations.


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