3 Languages, 3 Regions, 1 Family

Have you ever thought why there are similar languages in this world? One example is Malay and Indonesian. However, I have seen many books that categorize them into the same language, so called Malay/ Indonesian.

Can those languages really be categorized in this way or is it just a business strategy to attract customers by giving "two languages" in one book?

Another example is Spanish and Portuguese. For those who have learnt any of these two should know about the similarities. However, I remind you that even native speakers of both languages cannot communicate among one another easily.

Language family

Languages also have "family", and languages from the same family share much similarities. Indonesian and Malay belong to the Austronesian language family, meanwhile Spanish and Portuguese belong to the Romance language family.

Languages from the same family share the same origin, such as Spanish, Portuguese, French, Romanian, etc. are originated from Latin. Due to the geographical distance, these languages evolved by themselves and eventually, formed new languages.

Similar but different

There are three languages that caught my attention lately and what's interesting from them is they represent three regions in this world and they belong to the same family despite the long distance they have been.

The three languages are Batak, Tuvaluan, and Amis. Here is the brief introduction about them.

1. Batak language (Hata Batak)

"Horas!" is the most popular Batak word that many Indonesians know. Most of Batak speakers reside in the province of North Sumatera, and they are divided into several groups, such as Batak Toba, Batak Mandailing, Batak Karo, etc. The writing script of Batak language is called Surat Batak.

2. Tuvaluan language (Te 'gana Tūvalu)

This language is spoken by around 13 thousand people and it is the language of an island called Tuvalu, which is located in the Pacific Ocean. During the development, Tuvaluan language has got influence from Kiribati, Samoan, and English. Some examples of Tuvaluan words are talofa (hello), fakamolemole (please), fakafetai (thank you) dan tofa (goodbye).

3. Amis language (Pangcah)

Many people must have not known that Austronesian languages exist in Taiwan. One of these languages is called Pangcah, or usually known as Amis language. Amis is the biggest of around 20 indigenous languages of Taiwan. In order to preserve these languages, Taiwanese government have introduced a writing system, language courses, and certification exams for public.


Here is an example of numbers in Batak, Tuvaluan, and Amis. I also inserted Indonesian language for comparison.


Read the original version in Indonesian, 3 Bahasa, 3 Wilayah, 1 Rumpun

Photo Credit:
undpclimatechangeadaptation Flickr via Compfight cc

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