Talk:Indonesian phrasebook

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What are 10000 and 100000 called? Malagasy has names for the powers of ten up to a million (tapitrisa), and "ribu" is an obvious cognate of "arivo". -(WT-en) phma 12:42, 28 Mar 2004 (EST)

There are independent words for 10.000 and 100.000 which are borrowings from Sanskrit. 10.000 = koti and 100.000 = laksa. But 10.000 is just called sepuluh ribu and 100.000 seratus ribu. (WT-en) Meursault2004 16:50, 28 Mar 2004 (EST)

I'm not familiar with Malayan languages. I'm wondering if Indonesian and Malaysian are sufficiently different to have different phrasebooks. --(WT-en) Evan 17:47, 28 Mar 2004 (EST)

Well grammatically both languages are not that different, but idiomatically the difference can be great. So I think Indonesian and Malaysian should have different phrasebooks. Obviously the Malaysian phrasebook should be written by a native speaker of Malaysian Malay.

Or to save space, the Indonesian and Malaysian phrasebook could be combined into just one phrasebook. And only the differences between Indonesian and Malaysian Malay will be higlighted. For example "Police" is called "polis" in Malaysia and "polisi" in Indonesia. (WT-en) Meursault2004 19:02, 28 Mar 2004 (EST)

I was just thinking about this too... having travelled in both, I think the similarities are much greater than the differences from a traveller's point of view, so for time being I'll plunge forward and redirect Malay phrasebook here with a notice added to the beginning. (WT-en) Jpatokal 10:56, 8 Nov 2004 (EST)
Having travelled a little more in Indonesia I've changed my mind, so now they're separate again. (WT-en) Jpatokal 04:44, 6 Jun 2005 (EDT)

Orwellian newspeak[edit]

Indonesian is indeed noted by several for its fondness for Orwellian newspeak feature. But this feature is actually not a legacy of Soeharto's New Order society, which is somewhat reminiscent of Orwell's 1984 society. The truth is less romantic or intriguing. It is rather a peculiarity of Indonesian as an Austronesian language. Many if not all Austronesian languages, as Indonesian, show a certain fondness for bisyllabic words. And indeed, most of these acronyms are bisyllabic. (WT-en) Meursault2004 15:56, 5 Jun 2005 (EDT)

But why doesn't Malay do it then? In Malaysia it's the acronym that rules. (WT-en) Jpatokal 00:48, 6 Jun 2005 (EDT)

Well as for Malay, the acronym or rather the 'acronymisation' of loose words is another manifestation of the same phenomenon. In Javanese for example, this feature also concerns everyday's words, not just political or socio-economical concepts.

There is furthermore one important difference between Orwellian Newspeak and Indonesian. In 1984's Newspeak there is an attempt to minimise the vocabulary of the English, while in Indonesian the vocabulary has grown extensively the last 50 years or so. Another interesting fact about Orwellian Newspeak is that this may have been based on facts not just fiction. The American and I think the British tried to create a simplified version of the English language. (WT-en) Meursault2004 04:14, 6 Jun 2005 (EDT)

OK, maybe you're reading a little too much into my flippant metaphor. Feel free to change it if you can think of something better... but quite seriously, the only other language I know of that practices this so regularly is Soviet-era Russian (Komintern, Vagonmashimpexpstroy, etc.) (WT-en) Jpatokal 04:26, 6 Jun 2005 (EDT)

Well I dont know the reason why the Soviets did that. Maybe they did that to cover up the true meaning of the words? I don't know. But it is also possible that there is some Soviet influence to be discerned in Indonesian. It was actually not Soeharto but Soekarno who started this fondness for what I call 'acronymisation'. Soekarno is also noted for his leftist sympathies. He is even accused of being a communist by some. (WT-en) Meursault2004 04:31, 6 Jun 2005 (EDT)

Anda vs kamu[edit]

The phrasebook uses the formal/polite Anda form, not the informal kamu/mu, so I've rolled back this change:

What is your name? 
Namanya siapa? (NUM-muh-nyuh shah-puh?)
What is your name? 
Siapa namamu? (shah-puh NUM-muh-moo?)

Is it worth it to list both? (WT-en) Jpatokal 01:26, 5 March 2007 (EST)

Use of "Apakah"[edit]

I speak Malay and not really Indonesian, so it wouldn't shock me if this is correct Indonesian, but it sure sounds strange to me:

"Apakah Anda bicara bahasa Inggris?"

I would translate that as "What you speak English?" Of course that doesn't make sense. Is "Adakah Anda bicara bahasa Inggris?" the intended sentence? Ikan Kekek (talk) 19:59, 10 July 2014 (UTC)

And the form of words I was taught in Indonesian class back when was "Saudara/Saudari bisa bicara bahasa Inggris?" "Bisa" means "poison" in Malay, but of course in Indonesian, it means "can", for which word, Malays use "boleh". :-) Ikan Kekek (talk) 06:32, 29 June 2017 (UTC)
The same case can be said for the phrase "What's your name?": we said "Siapa namamu?" which actually is literally translated to, "Who your name?". For me learning this in English the first time, it's startling, yet all Indonesians are accustomed to say it that way. It is the same case as "Apakah" in asking a yes or no question. You can also ask "Anda bisa bicara bahasa Inggris?" in your case, which is supposedly similar in structure to a couple European languages , but for us that is impolite. The more correct way if we want to simplify it would be "Bisakah Anda bicara bahasa Inggris?" which is translatable quite literally to English (the suffix -kah is used when asking questions) and that's what I adopted in this phrasebook.Othello95 (talk) 22:12, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
I understand that Malays and Indonesians have "false friends" words, in which case speakers of both languages must try to somehow get around it. It's the fact we cannot change, unfortunately.
Understood. I guess this is another difference between Malay and Indonesian, because I have trouble imagining "Apakah" being used in such sentences in Malay. Granted that I usually spoke village Malay of the Terengganu dialect, but I think it's generally still the case that Malay is usually less formal than Indonesian, so I believe "Anda boleh cakap Bahasa Inggeris?" would be quite polite in Malay, given the use of the polite "Anda" form of "you"; I would usually use "awak", but some native speakers were claiming that nowadays, it's considered impolite by some people. I also normally use "Apa nama awak?", or in more familiar settings "Apa namamu?", but in Terengganu dialect, all kinds of formal rules were constantly flouted in everyday speech, and when I visited the state again in 2003, people were speaking standard language and using more formal language quite a lot. Ikan Kekek (talk) 22:47, 25 July 2017 (UTC)
I am a non-native but proficient Indonesian speaker and would definitely use 'apakah' in this way, generally, but not in the specific context where I was asking if someone speaks English. So in a formal discussion I might use 'apakah' to open a question about whether something was really the case: "Apakah memang anggaran tidak tersedia?" (Is the budget really not available?). For something less formal like asking if someone speaks English, I would ask "Apa Bapak/Ibu bisa berbahasa Inggris?", using "apa" as the question marker. You'll notice I didn't use "Anda". I am rarely in a situation where I feel happy to use it - it sounds stilted and impersonal in a country where everything is about building personal relations. I would rather ask their name first "Maaf, nama Bapak/Ibu siapa?" before continuing with that: "Apa Pak Tarjo bisa berbahasa Inggeris?. Tawonmadu (talk) 02:36, 28 October 2017 (UTC)
Tawonmadu is right in this case. Using "Bapak/Ibu" in a sentence, where you want to ask the person of being able to speak English is correct. Although in Jakarta for example, sometimes asking "Apa anda bisa Bahasa Inggris" is polite enough because of using the word "Anda" (except you're right for the building personal relations). But I would advise using the word Bapak/Ibu as the sense of politeness and admiration. If you know the person already inside and outside of work environment, using both slangs "lo (which means you)" and "gue (means I)" for integrating into the society would almost amaze them every time. It's of course impolite for addressing with "lo" and "gue" to the elderly and someone who is a lot older than you so using both words is only advisable for conversations amongst the same age as you are. ibhi19 (talk) 13:28, 13 November 2017 (UTC)
These are real differences from Malay, at least as I know the language. The simplest way to find out whether someone speaks English in Malay is to simply ask "Boleh cakap Bahasa Inggeris?" or to use the same sentence beginning with some signifier of "you" (awak, Anda, or perhaps the English word "you", which at least used to be used a lot in Malaysian cities, especially on the West Coast). Sure, you can use polite expressions like "makcik", "pakcik" and so forth, but if you're already using expressions like that, you speak Malay and aren't likely to need to know whether your interlocutor can speak English. Ikan Kekek (talk) 03:04, 28 October 2017 (UTC)

Pseudo-transliteration for glottal stops[edit]

I don't think advising people to pronounce "nak" as "nack" is good. Actually, it will encourage stereotypically "orang putih" ("white people's") pronunciations. I won't hold up the solutions in the Malay phrasebook as anything close to perfect, but at least there's an attempt to deal with glottal stops there, by using the formerly used ' sign. I'd encourage editors of this phrasebook to look at the Malay phrasebook, since the two languages are so closely related. And while you're there, by all means edit anything you think you can improve (but not by making everything overly Indonesian, please :-) Ikan Kekek (talk) 06:28, 29 June 2017 (UTC)

I think "WHACK-too" for waktu is even worse, as many English-speakers pronounce "wh" as a "hw" sound. "WOK-too" would be closer, but the English "k" consonant really does not resemble a glottal stop. I really disagree with teaching people "white people's pronunciation". Ikan Kekek (talk) 22:43, 17 December 2017 (UTC)
It might help if there was an agreed and robust way of representing the glottal stop in the pseudo-transliteration scheme. Tf there was a guideline it would give a basis for going in with large scale edits of existing text. I've been using a single quotation mark but that can cause problems when combined with other formatting. For "waktu" using the quotation mark glottal stop, I would transliterate as WA'-too. Tawonmadu (talk) 01:22, 18 December 2017 (UTC)
I'd use "wah'-too", even though there's no "h" sound. Ikan Kekek (talk) 04:27, 18 December 2017 (UTC)
I'd personally recommend "WAK-too" as a preferred pronunciation to "Waktu" just because it sounds closer to how the natives speak and usually the 'k' sound is apparent. ibhi19 (talk) 07:37, 18 December 2017 (UTC)
What do you mean by "apparent"? It is a glottal stop, is it not? In Malay it is. Ikan Kekek (talk) 07:49, 18 December 2017 (UTC)
Also, keep in mind that a lot of English speakers will pronounce "wak" as "wack", not with an a as in "father". That's a no-good way to pronounce Indonesian. Ikan Kekek (talk) 07:50, 18 December 2017 (UTC)
Aaah, alright. I'm kind of confused of how the westerners pronounce "wak" and "whack", though, since I didn't realise it is how they mostly pronounce it. And yes, it is also a glottal stop in Indonesian as well. Sorry. ibhi19 (talk) 08:18, 18 December 2017 (UTC)
There are many different accents of English. For most Americans, whack=wack. Not so in some other places. Ikan Kekek (talk) 08:19, 18 December 2017 (UTC)

Adding list of newspeak-y/popular abbreviations[edit]

I recently stumbled onto this page and I don't really know if the "newspeak" (or slang) section worth to add, because Indonesians (especially living in Jakarta, Bandung, and other big cities) tend to use slangs to shorten the sentence while talking.

For example:

Popular abbreviations: Buryam (BOOR-yum): Bubur Ayam, or Toprak (Top-ruck): Ketoprak

Popular slangs: Lo/elu (low/uh-loo) = you, Gue/Gua (goo-way/goo-wah) = I ibhi19 (talk) 13:43, 26 October 2017 (UTC)

I would say absolutely include much-used slang. These are words that as a Malay-speaker, I don't know. Ikan Kekek (talk) 13:30, 26 October 2017 (UTC)
Alright then. I'm going to collect some data first and then coming back here to add more. ibhi19 (talk) 13:45, 26 October 2017 (UTC)

After many considerations, I'd just put the link to Indonesian Slangs' Wikipedia page due to their extensive list of slangs and common abbreviations, if it's possible. Putting those extended lists here is kind of unnecessary. ibhi19 (talk) 06:54, 27 October 2017 (UTC)

The governing policy on links to Wikipedia is shown at Wikivoyage:Links to Wikipedia, but I think this one is OK. Ikan Kekek (talk) 01:19, 28 October 2017 (UTC)
Hello! Now I've added some common and popular abbreviations and mostly are still spoken and understood by many Indonesians, particularly in big cities. I hope that might help in the long run. ibhi19 (talk) 17:13, 12 November 2017 (UTC)

Does anyone ever use Tuan?[edit]

I hear this word used v e r y rarely, and it usually sounds a little bit weird: forced at best, creepy at worst. I would never consider using it to an Indonesian. Is that misguided? Tawonmadu (talk) 02:24, 28 October 2017 (UTC)

Do Indonesians ever use it to talk to foreigners? Also, is it ever used as a title in Indonesia, as Tuan and Puan are used in Malaysia? Ikan Kekek (talk) 02:31, 28 October 2017 (UTC)
I get called it very rarely, and it sounds a bit obsequious. Never used as a title here. The only time I regularly hear it is in the construction 'tuan rumah' meaning 'host'. Tawonmadu (talk) 03:27, 28 October 2017 (UTC)
As an Indonesian, I can confirm, yes. Nowadays it is rare to use 'tuan' and 'nyonya' in everyday conversation amongst Indonesians. It is more of a symbol and also has a special use in monarchial constitution such as in Yogyakarta, where the governing body is still held by Sultanate system, led by Sultan Hamengkubuwono X (the tenth). ibhi19 (talk) 08:15, 30 October 2017 (UTC)
When my parents were called "Tuan" and "Puan" in the village we used to live in, early on, they pushed back hard and got people to stop. Definitely obsequious: It's more than "Sir" and "Madam", approaching "My Lord" and "Milady". If it's used so rarely in Indonesia, by all means remove it. Ikan Kekek (talk) 03:35, 28 October 2017 (UTC)

PUNK-gang and GO-rank[edit]

I would not think it helpful to advise learners to use those sounds, as per the recent edit. Using the pronunciation style guide of WV, I would go for PAHNG-gang and GO-rehng. (Non-native but BA and MA Indonesian language, 35 years in Indonesia). Tawonmadu (talk) 15:11, 29 November 2017 (UTC)

Ah, I see it now. You have far more experience on the language and the life there so I agree with your suggestion on how to pronounce the words. I'm an Indonesian native and yet still couldn't figure out how to explain the pronunciation, though. ibhi19 (talk) 13:05, 30 November 2017 (UTC)

"O" as in "lock"[edit]

"Lock", throughout most of the U.S.A. and at least some of Canada, is "lahk". We need another "as in" for this vowel. I think Indonesian "o" is not usually an "aw" sound as in "saw", but closer to "oa" in "boat". It's an imperfect analogy ("o" in Indonesian has no "w" sound or "oo" sound at the end), but it's closer than "ah". Ikan Kekek (talk) 07:21, 2 July 2018 (UTC)

In the Malay phrasebook, we have o "like 'ow' in `low', but without the `w' sound". Ikan Kekek (talk) 07:22, 2 July 2018 (UTC)
We can use that as well. "O" as in "go" or as in "box" is acceptable as well. ibhi19 (talk) 07:55, 2 July 2018 (UTC)
"Box" has exactly the same problem as "lock": it's pronounced "bahks" in most of the U.S. and a lot of Canada. Ikan Kekek (talk) 07:59, 2 July 2018 (UTC)
You're right. We can use the same analogy as mentioned in Malay phrasebook, then. It sounds exactly as you proposed. ibhi19 (talk) 08:03, 2 July 2018 (UTC)


Tawonmadu and Ibhi19 have been doing a lot of great work on pseudo-transliterations, but I still think "orang" would be better transliterated as "OH-rahng", because the word "rang" is pronounced with a very different vowel than "A" in "father" by most North American English speakers, among many others. Ikan Kekek (talk) 19:51, 5 August 2018 (UTC)

Further to the point: Keep in mind how most English-speakers pronounce "orangutan" (oh-RAEN-guh-taen would be my attempt at a psuedo-transliteration of their pronunciation). It would be better for them not to use that pronunciation while in Indonesia. Ikan Kekek (talk) 21:10, 5 August 2018 (UTC)