Are Indonesian and Tagalog closer than what we know right now?

Discussion in 'Etymology, History of languages, and Linguistics (EHL)' started by Waterdash, Nov 7, 2008.

  1. Waterdash Senior Member

    English (US)
    These two languages both fall under the Austronesian > Malayo-Polynesian language groups, yet there are many sub groups which separate these languages apart. Yet, I have a friend who speaks fluent Tagalog who was talking to this Indonesian waiter, and they were both speaking their own, respective languages. The strange part is that they could understand each other word for word and communicate as if they are speaking the same language. Is there an even more direct connection than just both being Malayo-Polynesian languages?
  2. Nikola Senior Member

    English - American
    They are closely related but not completely intelligible, although there are a lot of cognates and some degree of mutual intelligibility exists.. Malay and Indonesian and Filipino/Tagalog are official languages but in the three countries there are other related languages, sometimes they are even closer, but not always. See this.
  3. vince Senior Member

    Los Angeles, CA
    Hmm if that is true then they are likely more close than English and German.

    Does anyone have some evidence to back this up?
  4. Hulalessar

    Hulalessar Senior Member

    English - England
    It depends what you mean by "close". Two languages can be "close" but not necessarily immediately mutually intelligible when spoken. I speak Spanish quite well and if I look at a page of Portuguese can understand quite a lot of it, but can hardly make head or tail of it when I hear it. I am sure that if I spent some time in Portugal I would begin to catch on fairly quickly.

    Once one starts to ask questions about how easily a speaker of language A can understand language B one can receive conflicting information. One person will say he has no problem, while another will say he has difficulty. I think this is explained by factors such as a person's abilty to catch on and the degree to which the speaker of language A has been exposed to language B. Also, the degree to which a speaker of language A communicating with a speaker of language B understand each other may depend upon accommodations being made by either or both.

    So, in the case of Waterdash's friend and the waiter it may be that:

    1. Both have a keen ear; and/ or,

    2. The waiter spent some time in the Philippines and/or has some Philippino friends; and/ or,

    3. The friend has spent some time in Indonesia; and/or,

    4 (a) Indonesian and Tagalog have some degree of mutual intelligibilty and one or the other or both are making concessions; or,

    4 (b) Indonesian and Tagalog are mutually intelligible to a high degree.

    The only way for anyone to get a satisfactory answer to the question is to learn both Indonesian and Tagalog and form their own opinion.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2008
  5. Nikola Senior Member

    English - American
    I agree with these comments, but as I said there is not a high degree of mutual intelligibility if both speakers have no exposure to each others language, some speakers will recognize words (high) phrases( low) and some will not understand anything. Malay and Indonesian are much closer though, and it can be argued that they are the same language but have evolved differently in the last century.
  6. dhan

    dhan New Member

    Old thread... I know, but no native Indonesian nor Tagalog confirm this so far.

    I'm native Indonesian, and I can say that I don't understand anything when the Philippines are speaking in Tagalog.
    But yes, there are very few words that have the same meaning both in Indonesian and Tagalog.
  7. pareanom New Member

    English - USA
    I'm a semi-native speaker of Tagalog, and I've learned Indonesian to a certain level of proficiency. It's a mystery to me how this Tagalog speaker and this Indonesian waiter could have understood each other "word for word."

    Tagalog and Malay-Indonesian are related, but they're not any closer to each other than English is to Russian, I think. That being said, they share many cognates (often in a nearly identical form) either from their common proto-language or as loanwords from Malay into Tagalog. Perhaps these individuals just happened to be comparing cognates.

    Here is how "I buy [hulled] rice" sounds in the two languages:

    Malay-Indonesian: "Aku beli beras"
    Tagalog: "Bumibili ako ng bigas" ["ng," pronounced "nang"]
  8. artion Senior Member

    Possibly your tagalog-speaking friend (like most philippinos) understands at least one more local language or dialect. If this second language is from an area geographically and lingually close to Indonesia (e.g. Visayas or Mindanao) he is likely to understand more indonesian than a philippino from, say, north Luzon.
    I believe that a philippino who would speak just pure Visaya could not communicate with a phil. who would speak only Ipanang of Ifugao of Luzon.
  9. mataripis

    mataripis Senior Member

    there are more than 2000 tagalog words in bahasa Indones and bahasa malaya,they are related but hard to understand. The pilipinos in mindanaw can speak bahasa because they use to visit borneo and malay peninsula.but pilipinos in Luzon and bisaya seldom or do not visit the southern part of mindanaw.
  10. swag123 New Member

    Malaysian is the original indonesian because indonesian is mixed with dutch. But my island is pretty close to the Philippines because it's in north celebes islands and my father asked me how to count in tagalog and counted for him and he told me that the tagalog numbers are similar to the old way the people on my island use to speak.

    P.S. I know hot to count in tagalog because I live in Daly city CA which is called "Little Manila"
    Last edited: May 18, 2014
  11. swag123 New Member

    Mindanao sounds like where I come from which is manado
  12. drowssap New Member

    Hi, native speaker of Malay here. I'm confident what I'm saying will settle the debate :)

    Malay/Indonesian are the same language with different national registers. One could say the linguistic relationship is similar to British English and American English, but I believe the relationship between Malay/Indonesian is more similar to that between Serbian and Croatian, which are standard variants of the same language (Serbo-Croatian). There are many different words or word formations - greater than that between British and American English - but a Malaysian can understand about 90% of what an Indonesian is saying.

    On the other hand, the relationship between Malay/Indonesian and Tagalog is definitely comparable to that between English and German. An unitiated Malaysian would not understand a Tagalog paragraph in a school textbook. We share only very basic vocabulary with Tagalog eg lima "five", langit "sky", mata "eye", angin "wind" (the Filipinos say "hangin"), telur "egg" ("itlog"), nyiur "coconut" ("niyog"). Just the words I can remember.

    Hope this helps!
  13. CitizenEmpty Senior Member

    English & Korean
    I know many Tagalog-speaking Filipinos before. Most of them said that they couldn't understand Malay or Javanese. And those Tagalog speakers who understand one of two languages have experienced living in Malaysia.
  14. anzhyo New Member

    - -
    Hi. I'm a native speaker of Indonesian, and I can say that Malay and Indonesian are essentially the same language that have been standardized in different localities. I've published a LinkedIn post about how Malay was the lingua franca of Maritime Southeast Asia prior to European colonization. You can check it out here: December 2015 Implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Integration Policy (cf. European Union)

    As for the differences between Malay and Tagalog, I agree with the analogy by drowssap in that they are "comparable to that between English and German".
  15. Mat Liputo

    Mat Liputo New Member

    Indonesia, English
    im indonesian. Speak bahasa and Manado-Gorontalo language too in my daily activity. in my island, Sulawesi (Celebes), I think the language of our area are closer to the Filipino language , our accent and intonation is very similar to some of the vocabulary nor any semblance
  16. Rani_Author

    Rani_Author Senior Member

    Indonesia - Indonesian
    Hi! I'm Indonesian. I could speak and write Malayan well in the daily life, even about their both literatures. But, it wasn't easy to do it. For me, to learn two closest languages is more complicated than learning a lot of farthest languages in the same time. I myself think that Indonesian-Malayan is as close as Turkish-Azeri if you have ever learned about them. Turkish and Azeri have a lot of false friends, just like Indonesian and Malayan. And understanding Turkish literature doesn't mean understanding Azeri literature automatically. I don't agree to compare it with British English and American English. Because, basically they are the same language with differences in a little bit of things. Indonesian-Malayan are two languages with a lot of differences. Although, Indonesians could understand Malayan automatically and on the contrary. But, not automatically in their literatures. Here it's my opinion about the percentage of the differences of Indonesian-Malayan:

    About standart Malayan and Indonesian, they are 80 % similar. But, be carefull about the differences of some words! Because, the meanings are the contraries. And a lot of times they make a lot persons don't understand those become upset. Example: "bercinta" in Indonesian is "to make love", in Malay is "to express a love". Could you imagine how is the effect if we are wrong to say it?

    But, they become too much different in colloquial languages. It's about 60 % similar. Example: Malayan uses the word of "kat" as translations of "di" (in, at), "kepada/ pada" (to), and "dekat" (near). But, this "kat" doesn't use in a formal situation like in a state speech. Note: "pada" in Malayan is "on, upper (di atas)".

    The majority of educated Indonesians always keep speaking standart Indonesian. But, the majority of educated Malayans always keep speaking colloquial Malayan in the daily life.

    In literatures, they are just about 40 % similar in something like poem and 20 % similar in something like short story and novel. You should learn the literatures of both languages to know them deeply.

    Indonesian smart writers should learn Malayan literature first to understand about it and on the contrary. That's why it's impossible to sell indonesian books well to Malaysia without any translations and on the contrary.

    If Malayans want to make novels, movies, etc, for both countries, or on the contrary, we would use the standart Malayan and Indonesian, like "Upin Ipin" (Malaysia's production) and "Keluarga Somat" (Indonesia's production) cartoon movies.

    Tagalog? I'm trying hard to learn it. But, I even can't see any fundamental similarities between Tagalog and Indonesian-Malayan. Tetun, East Timor's official language is closer to Indonesian than Tagalog to Indonesian. Because, Tetun adopted Indonesian idioms and proverbs in many ways. Although, the majority of vocabularies derived from Portuguese and Spanish. And in some grammars, Tetun adopted Romance grammars. E.g.: about the placement of adverb.

    Sometimes I think that Tagalog and Indonesian become one family of language just because of regions. If all of you could see any similarities between Tagalog and Indonesian, perhaps it's my lack as a learner?! But, whatever it's, it's not as close as Romance languages (minus Rumanian). I could learn Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, French easily at the same time with my Italian.

    English-German is closer than Tagalog-Indonesian. The problem is the Tagalog basic grammar is completely different with Indonesian!!! E.g.: Tagalog knows about tenses, Indonesian doesn't know. Tagalog basic word order: Verb-Subject-Object, Indonesian basic word order: Subject-Verb-Object. I agree that even Indonesian-Tagalog isn't closer than English-Russian.

    Situation like the description above could happen. E.g. At the beginning I spoke Italian in 2008, I spoke Italian well to an Italian native speaker. He said that my Italian was awesome. Unfortunately, I couldn't understand his Milan accent that was so fast and flat. You know that standart Italian is Tuscany accent which is slow and rhythmic. So, I spoke Italian, he spoke English. More example: Indonesians speak Indonesian to East Timoreses. East Timoreses speak Tetun to Indonesian. Some of them could understand with some adaptations, although the both languages are different in the vocabularies and grammars. You know that East Timoreses were born after 1999 couldn't speak Indonesian at all!!!

    :thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup: That's what I meant with my last paragraph.
  17. Nino83 Senior Member

    In this page there are some common (Austronesian) words.
    In this site there is an Austronesian basic vocabulary database.
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2016
  18. ricky anderson

    ricky anderson New Member

    i second this.
    manadonese is relatively close to tagalog.
    that waiter might be a manadonese, that's why he understood what your phillipino friend said.

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