Posts Tagged ‘Indonesia’

Jakarta City

Jakarta City, courtesy of Kevin Aurell and Wikipedia.

The first thing I think one should learn in any language are personal pronouns. They are probably the the easiest and most common Subjects and Objects one can string up in a sentence. Throw in at least a verb and you can get a sentence going, without referring to yourself in the third person.

Decorate it an adverb, preposition among other parts of speech and one gets a more telling sentence.

The shortest and common short sentences a tourist could learn are:

  • Terima kasih: “Thank you”. Literally, it means “Received your affection” (or something to that effect).
  • “Kembali.”: “You’re welcome.” (Literaly it means “Returned back to you. (Or thank you back!”)
  • “Sama sama”: You’re welcome. (Literally “same same” or “the same to you”).
  • “Saya tidur.” – “I sleep” (Taken to mean “I am going to sleep now”.)
  • “Saya Hulk Hogan” – “I am Hulk Hogan.”
  • “Ini mahal!” – “This is expensive!”
  • “Ini murah!” – “This is cheap!”.
  • “Saya capet!” – “I am tired”.
  • “Saya nak beli ini.” – “I want to buy this”.
  • “Gue cinta sama lo!” –  Jakarta coarse slang for “I love you”, just in case you fall in love along the way.
  • Dimana Senayan City?” – Where is Senayan City? (A shopping mall in the Senayan area in South Jakarta, where you’d find international designer brands, food and groceries. Get a decent hairdresser, cream bath, back massage at Johnny Andrean at a reasonable price. Women can shop while tired hubbies can refresh themselves at the BrewHouse below.)

I think I am getting distracted. Back to the point, I would start off learning Bahasa with Personal Pronouns, which I present here, to the best of my knowledge. I am not using IPA as a pronunciation aid, but I think you’ll understand it fairly easily… unless you don’t… and in that situation refer to for some help.

English Indonesian-Formal Indonesian – Informal Indonesian – Jakarta Coarse
I, Me Saya: saa/yaa aku Gua, GueGuah / Gweh
You, your Anda: aan/daa Kamu kaa/moo Lo, Lu
He, his dia dia Dia
She, her dia: deeya dia Dia
It, Its ia= eeya  ia Ia
We, our kami: kaami kami kami, kita, keetaa
They, their Mereka: mur/ek/aa  mereka mereka

Etymological Nugget: Indonesia comes from two root words. Indo for ‘India’, and ‘nesos’, for ‘island’. It used to be called the ‘East Indies Islands’ or the ‘Indian Archipelago’ in the 1850s. (Ref: Online Etymology Dictionary)

More Etymology:

The Indonesian language has had many influences throughout its history. The early origins of the Indonesian languages come from its shared Malay and Australasian heritage with the Malayan Peninsula, Borneo, the Philippines among others.  Legend has it, true or otherwise, that the Malay people emerged from Pulau Lingga, or Lingga Island in the Kepulauan Riau, or Riau Islands.

Ancient Indian presence is registered through the ancient ruins such as Borobudur and Prambanan temple structures left behind before the arrival of Islam to the region. That explains the Balinese Hindu culture as well. As Islam moved forward, Hinduism retreated to a safer haven in Bali.

Chinese and Indian traders drifted in circa 16th Century. Later, the Portuguese arrived around the 16th Century, then the English for what I recall was a brief period followed by the Dutch. Self-note: I need to read up on this later and brush up on Southeast Asian history AGAIN.

In due course, these influences seeped into the diverse Javanese tongues. Malay, Portuguese, Dutch and the Javanese laguages became the lingua franca.

Below are just a sample of the myriads of words Bahase Indonesia has adopted into common use today:

Portuguese source words

sabun: (from sabão = soap)

meja: (from mesa = table)

boneka: (from boneca = doll)

jendela: (from janela = window)

gereja: (from igreja = church)

bola: (from bola = ball)

bendera: (from bandeira = flag)

roda: (from roda = wheel)

gagu: (from gago = stutterer)

sepatu: (from sapato = shoes)

kereta: (from carreta = wagon)

bangku: (from banco = chair)

keju: (from queijo = cheese)

garpu: (from garfo = fork)

terigu: (from trigo = flour)

mentega: (from manteiga = butter)

Minggu: (from domingo = Sunday). (Hari Minggu: Sunday).

Chinese source words (Hokkien, Teochew, too perhaps, and Mandarin)

pisau: bǐshǒu=knife

loteng: lóu/céng =[upper] floor/ level

mie (Hokkien mī = noodles)

lumpia: (Hokkien) = lūn-piá(n) = springroll

cawan:  cháwǎn = teacup

teko: cháhú (Mandarin), teh-ko (Hokkien) = teapot

kuli: khu (bitter)

li (energy)

gua/ goa/ gwe: (Hokkien, direct trans.) = I, me.

lu: (Hokkien, direct trans.) = you, your.

Sanskrit source words

bahasa: language

kaca: glass, mirror

raja: king

manusia:  humankind

bumi: earth/ world

agama: religion

Arabic source words

dunia: the world

Sabtu: Saturday

kabar: news

selamat/ salam ( greeting)

Senin: Monday

Selasa: Tuesday

Jumat: Friday

ijazah: diploma

hadiah: gift/present

mungkin: perhaps

maklum: understood

kitab: book

tertib: orderly

kamus: dictionary

Javanese source words

aku (I/ me (informal)

mengaku (to admit or confess) related to the above word.

Reference: (Wikipedia)



Indonesia (Courtesy of Wikipedia Commons)

One of the benchmarks I set myself to determine my reading fluency in a foreign language is firstly, being able to read the national newspaper with relative ease and write using the same language, and secondly, using the local colloquial language well enough to communicate with ease. Only then, do I dare claim that I am fluent in the particular language. Additionally, there are current idiomatic expressions to consider, as well, that I would have to master.

I am trying to improve my Bahasa Indonesia; it is the language of the fourth largest country in the world in terms of population, and it is not as difficult as picking up Chinese (which I am learning – very slowly- as well).  I also speak Malay fairly well, short of being fluent though having received a commendable grade in a national exam some 28 years ago.

Where pronunciation in Bahasa Indonesia is concerned, it is a fairly phonetic language, with perhaps a few exceptions, for example (with the pronunciation of ‘e’). Besides that there is intonation and stresses, which differ from Malay.

Indonesians speak really quickly relative to Malaysians. I think in order to do this I would have to be familiar with both formal informal Indonesian vocabulary, and get the intonation right.

The Indonesian language as I perceive it today has Malay as its foundation, which is in turn connected to Indian languages or Sanskrit and Arabic. One peculiarity here is that Indonesians have a way of abbreviating words and phrases. Three words would collapse into each other to form a single word.

Additionally, Bahasa Indonesia has also appropriated Dutch words (a colonial heritage) and English vocabulary, something which is expedient as language itself evolves and succumbs to the pressures of globalisation. The language is also impacted by Javanese, with its variants in different parts of Java, the main Indonesian island.

I am trying to beef up my vocabulary in Bahasa Indonesia. I find linking a new language to the ones I already know or have some inkling of (like Hindi, French, Latin words, prefixes and suffixes) definitely help. Understanding the etymology helps me to internalise what I learn.

So every day, I am going to pick up a few words each day by reading Kompas, a leading newspaper in Bahasa Indonesia. While I pick up new words, I am also educating myself in the politics and culture of this country.

My tools include the following dictionaries, for now:

  • Kompas (A leading Indonesian newspaper.)
  • Google Translate (One way I use it is to contrast English and Indonesian grammar, identify slang, and some approximation of translation of an entire webpage).
  •  (An online Indonesian dictionary. Kamus = dictionary.)
  • (English-Indonesian Translator.)
  • Indonesian Etymology (Pick up some Javanese words along the way.)
  • Seasite Learn Indonesia on the Internet (A great website to learn grammar, vocabulary and about Indonesia. For example, the ter-, ber-, prefixes you see below; suffixes such as -an are explained on the website.)
 Indonesian  English Etymology
 kecup  smack
 tersinggung  offended
 seteru  rival From Sanskrit “ShaTru”:”enemy”
 berseteru (dengan) clash (with) Sanskrit: enemy
 tanggapan  response
 ide, gagasan idea
 beberkan  layout