Indonesian is Spoken by over 200 million people in South East Asian, Indonesian communities all over the world. Indonesian is a form of the Malay language, Bahasa Melayu. In fact, to a great extent both languages are mutually intelligible, with some differences in pronunciation and word usage. If you study one, you get the other almost for free! In this volume we are going to focus on the Indonesian form, known as Bahasa Indonesia since 1828. The Malaysian form has officially been known as Bahasa Malaysia since the decree of 1971.
Where the two varieties different most is in vocabulary. The Malaysian form has borrowed significantly from English , due to prolonged colonization by the British, whereas the Indonesian has adopted many Dutch words through centuries of Dutch colonization. For example, Strawberry in Malay is Strawberi, immediately recognizable to English speakers, whereas Indonesian has adopted the Dutch arbei.
In addition, some words with similar origins have evolved to have different meanings. For example, in Indonesian pejabat means a functionary or an official, whereas in Malay it means office; a post office in Malaysia is pejabat pos, yet in Indonesia thanks to Dutch influence it is kantor pos. Bahasa Indonesia also includes words borrowed from its colourful array of indigenous languages, especially from Javanese. Indonesian has also been influenced by Arabic, Persian, Chinese and Sanskrit due to its being at the centre of the spice trade for centuries. So while Indonesian is certainly a form of Malay, it is also a language in its own right. Bahasa Melayu, in both its forms, is the most important language in South East Asia by sheer force . of numbers of speakers. It is a language well worth learning for anyone with an interest in SE Asia, for business, and tourism.
If you learn either of these forms of the language. you will cope well with the other, discounting
some differences in pronunciation and vocabulary. Bahasa Melayu, in both its forms, is the most important language in South East Asia by sheer force of numbers of speakers. It is a language well worth learning for anyone with an interest in SE Asia, not just for business, but also for tourism. If you are a student of either one of these forms of the language, you get the other one almost for free, discounting some differences in pronunciation and the borrowings from either English or Dutch. Indonesian spelling is easy to master because it is very regular. Once you learn how the sounds relate to the written word, which is a quick task in itself, you will be able to read Indonesian easily. There is only one sound that poses any significant challenge to English speakers, and then only when it appears in certain positions in a word. This is represented by ng. This sound is the 'twangy'sound found in orang, where it poses little difficulty for English speakers. However, it also occurs initially in some words, and in the middle of others, where it must still retain its sound: in the word jangan, for example. Indonesians also trill their r sounds, but apart from that, the rest of the pronunciation is straightforward, as is the spelling system, which is almost completely regular. In contrast with English and other European languages, much of the way Indonesian is understood, relies on context rather than on the actual words used.
Redundant words, in relation to context, are often left out of sentences when the context is understood. For example, a typical Indonesian greeting, Mau ke mana? Which means Where are you going?, contains neither the word for you
nor the word for going, whose omission is unthinkable in English. However, in Indonesian this is commonplace, especially when the verb to go is implicit. If you've ever struggled with the complicated verb endings and tense forms of a language like French, or the formidable noun cases of German, then you're going to find Indonesian to be a pleasant surprise ...
There are no tenses in Indonesian. That is to say, there are no lexically expressed tenses, nor do Indonesian verbs change to express person. This means that a verb, such as pergi, to go, does not change its form to express I go, he goes, we went, they will go etc. The pronouns alone tell you who is doing the action expressed by the verb. Of course language needs to express present, past and future events, because these concepts exist as very real parts of our life experience. So how does Indonesian do this? Points in time are simply expressed by stating when an action is supposed to take place. For example, Saya makan nasi goreng setiap hari means I eat nasi goreng every day. Saya means I, makan means eat and setiap hari means every day. There, the present tense is conveyed by the context. If I said, Saya makan nasi goreng kemarin, where kemarin means yesterday, the verb is automatically sent into the past. So the meaning automatically translates as I ate nasi goreng yesterday.
Where a time expression is not appropriate, Indonesian uses what we call tense markers. These are words that, when used before the verb, convey the idea of tense. Sedang means now in Indonesian, but placing it before a verb conveys the idea of what we call a continuous tense in English. For example, Saya sedang makan gado-gado. I am eating gado-gado. Replace sedang with sudah, which literally means already, and you've got I ate gado-gado Akan expresses the future tense, so Saya akan makan means I will eat gado-gado. Infact, Indonesian Context ares the same concept of counting with many East Asian languages. Objects are counted according to the category they fall into; according to their inherent characteristics, rather than just by number. Chinese does this; Japanese does this and
Indonesian does this too!
For example, people are counted as orang. So two teachers (teacher, guru) is expressed as dua orang guru. Animals are counted in tails (ekor)- whether they have one or not: dua ekor kucing, two cats (two tails of cat, if you will). We count cattle in heads, after all, which is a hint at a concept that is commonplace in Indonesian). Flat objects, such as paper (kertas), are counted using helai... Lima ( 5) helai kertas, five sheets of paper, and so on ...
There is a range of these counting words, depending on the characteristics of the object concerned. However, they can be omitted without rendering what you are saying inaccurate. From an English speaker's point of view, Indonesian vocabulary can be very literal, which can aid in learning considerably, once a certain amount of the raw vocabulary has been internalized.
Take the following, for example: doctor in Indonesian is dokter. The word for tooth or teeth (Indonesian doesn't bother about complicated plurals like English ones!) is gigi, so Indonesian expresses dentist as a tooth doctor, dokter gigi. Using this logic, if I tell you that animal in Indonesian is hewan, what do you think dokter hewan refers to?
If you said veterinary surgeon or vet, then you are already adapting to a way of thinking that will serve you well throughout your study of Indonesian. In keeping with the animal theme, for the young of animals, we have all sorts of completely unrelated words in English, i.e. dog/ puppy, cat/kitten and hen/chick. Indonesian thinks literally, and expresses each of these using the word for child in each case:
Anjing = dog, anak anjing = puppy; kucing= cat, anak kucing= kitten and ayam= hen anak ayam= chick. Some more examples: rumah=house, sakit=sick, so rumah sakit means hospital; kebun= garden, binatang (another word for) animal, so an 'animal garden' refers to a zoo. Finally, abroad in Indonesian is expressed as luar negeri: luar, outside, negeri, country. Indonesian vocabulary is built extensively around root words, or as we refer to them in Complete Indonesian, word bases.
These root words, once they have affixes attached to them, take on a different but associated meaning. Affixes are 'bits' that are attached to words to create new words, much as we use re- in English. In application, when you attach re- to build, you get rebuild, which means to build again. When you encounter re- again, in such words as redraw, you know instinctively that there-, in this instance, means to draw again. So it is with Indonesian words, only more so! The way in which Indonesian is built up is far more predictable than it would be in English, if you were learning it as a foreign language. This makes Indonesian particularly transparent, when you know how to look at it in a certain way. While you could learn vocabulary words as you come across them, without paying any particular attention to the root.
Although new words cannot be formed arbitrarily simply by attaching affixes, knowing the function of surfixes can greatly accelerate the lea 's ability to assimilate the language. Let's take a look at some example , and how they affect vocabulary, just to get a feel for what this i a l about:
ded to the beginning of a verb, creates a noun ~er' of the action. Main means to play, pemain
Using main again, the addition of -an creates a noun from the verb, so we get mainan, which means toy.
ber· added to nouns creates related verbs with a range of meanings. It can simply make a verb of what the noun is expressing: gerak, movement; bergerak, to move. Ber· added to words indicating clothes means to wear (whatever the item is). Topi is a hat; bertopi, to wear a hat.
Words may also include a combination of affixes. For example, sehat means healthy in Indonesian. To create the noun health, Indonesian surrounds this adjective with ke· (a prefix) and –an (a suffix), giving us kesehatan. Many adjectives are changed into nouns in this way. Ke· and -an, attached to a noun can create an extended meaning of that noun. For instance, bangsa means nation; kebangsaan means nationality. Similarly, per· and -an can be attached to certain nouns to create an extended meaning. For example, kebun means house; perkebunan means plantation.
In Complete Indonesian, we will introduce the most common affixes, step-by-step, in word-building sections, alongside your learning of conversational Indonesian.