By Rachel Diebel
There are more than 230 million Indonesian speakers across the globe, concentrated mainly in Indonesia and East Timor. The language, a variant of Malay, was standardized in 1930 and (unlike the other common languages in the Indonesian archipelago) was heavily influenced by Dutch, as well as Arabic and Japanese.
Indonesian, which not based on a similar system to English, is still a relatively simple language to learn, in part because of its phonetics: almost every letter or word is pronounced exactly as it is spelled, making Indonesian one of the most phonetic languages in the world. In addition to this, there are hardly any plurals, no gendered words and no conjugations in Indonesian. The most difficult part of learning to speak Indonesian is the fact that it is an agglutinative language, meaning that you add on to the word stem, so words can get extremely long.
Here are some useful phrases you can use during your tour to Bali, or during any travels around Indonesia!
Selamat datang (SHE-la-maat DAH-ting)
Halo (HAH-lo) or he (hey) for informal
Selamat tinggal (S’LAH-maht TING-gahl), or dadah (dah-dah) for informal
Selamat pagi (S’LAH-maht PAH-ghee)
Selamat siang (S’LAH-maht SEE-yang)
Selamat malam (S’LAH-maht MAH-lahm)
Terima kasih (Tuh-REE-mah KAH-see)
No, thank you
Tidak terima kasih (TEE-dak ter-EE-ma KAH-see)
Silakan (suh-LAH-kann) or tolong (TOH-long) for a request
For getting attention: Maaf (mah-AHF)
For excusing something you’ve done: Maaf permisi (mah-AHF pehr-mee-see)
What is your name?
Namamu siapa? (NAH-mah-moo see-AH-pah?)
My name is…
Nama saya… (NAH-mah sahy-yah…)
How are you?
Apa kabar? (AH-pah KAH-bar?)
Where are you from?
Anda berasal dari mana? (Ahn-DA ber-AH-sal DAR-E MAN-uh)
I’m pleased to meet you.
Senang bertemu anda. (Se-NAHNG berr-teh-moo AHN-dah)
Do you speak English?
Bisa bicara bahasa Inggris? (Bee-sah bee-chah-rah bah-hah-sah Ing-griss)
How do you say…in Indonesian?
Bagaimana cara mengatakan … dalam bahasa Indonesia? (BA-guy-MAH-na CARE-ah
MEN-gah-ta-CAN … DAL-AM BAH-ah-sa IN-doe-KNEES-ah)
I don’t understand.
Saya tidak mengerti. (SAHY-yah TEE-dah mng-GEHR-tee)
How much is this?
Harga ini berapa? (HARR-guh EE-nee buh-ROPP-uh?)
What time is it?
Jam berapa (sekarang) (Jom buh-ROPP-uh (s’KAR-ong)?)
Pukul berapa (sekarang)? (Pook-ool jom buh-ROPP-uh (s’KAR-ong)?)
I’d like to order…
Saya ingin memesan (SAY-ah IN-in MEM-ee-SAHN)
Satay – Barbecued meat skewers
Gado-gado – Vegetable mix covered in peanut sauce
Gudeg – Jackfruit stew
Pecel lele – Whole, fried catfish
Bakpao – Sweet or savory buns filled with meat, chocolate or beans
Murtabak – A thick, spongey, crepe-like dish
Tahu gejrot – Fried tofu
Motorcycle riders who take passengers for a price
Horse-drawn, two wheeled cart
Three wheeled pedal or motor powered carts
Where is the toilet?
Di mana kamar kecil? (Dee MAH-nah kam-AR ke-CH-ill?)
Leave me alone.
Jangan ganggu saya (JAN-gan GAN-goo SAY-ah)
Di mana… (Dee MAH-nah…)
1 – Satu (SAT-u)
2 – Dua (DO-ah)
3 – Tiga (TEE-ga)
4 – Empat (EM-pat)
5 – Lima (LEE-ma)
6 – Enam (EN-am)
7 – Tujah (TOO-jah)
8 – Delapan (DEL-a-pan)
9 – Sembilan (SEM-bee-LAN)
10 – Sepuluh (SEP-oo-luh)
Resources to Learn More Indonesian
For a great list of basic phrases and guides on pronunciation, try Wikitravel.
Or if you want to delve in, you can find lessons online that integrate audio podcasts, like this one with LearningIndonesian.com where you can choose a free course or a premium course with even more lessons.
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Legong Dancer: Matt Paish via Flickr
Indonesian Food: Paul Arps via Flickr
Becak: Kars Alfrink via Flickr