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Learn the Basics of the Indonesian Language

Learn the basics of the Indonesian language

The Indonesian language (Bahasa Indonesia) is a beautiful language that sounds similar to Spanish. It uses the Latin alphabet just like English. The letters are just pronounced differently (ex. you roll the “r” and “c” is pronounced like “ch”). Bahasa Indonesia is the 6th most spoken language in the world (after Mandarin, English, Hindi, Spanish and Arabic).

When Indonesia won its independence from the Dutch in 1945, they needed to find a national language to unify all the islands and people. They decided on Bahasa Indonesia which was already a second language to many people. Bahasa Indonesia comes from Bahasa Melayu which is a root language from Malay. Bahasa Melayu has been used for over 500 years allowing traders to communicate across Southeast Asia.

During the colonial area, the Dutch East Indies Trading Company adopted the Malay language for administrative purposes since it was widely used for trading. Bahasa Indonesia is enriched with words from Dutch, Javanese and Arabic.

Now most Indonesians (around 200 million) can speak Bahasa Indonesia as their second language. Their first language is the main language spoken in their people group. Most of the older generation cannot speak Bahasa Indonesia since they did not learn it in school growing up.

Basics of Bahasa Indonesia

Hello – Halo

Thank you – Terima kasih

You’re welcome – Sama-sama

How are you? – Apa kabar?

Good – Baik

Yes – Ya

No – Tidak

Good Morning – Selamat Pagi

Good Afternoon – Selamat Siang

Good Evening- Selamat Sore

Good Night – Selamat Malam

What is your name? – Siapa nama kamu?

My name is _____ – Nama saya _________

Where do you live? – Tinggal dimana?

I live ________  – Saya tinggal __________

Excuse me – Permisi

Where are you from? – Asli mana?

I am from America – Saya asli Amerika

If you want to hear an Indonesian native speaker say these phrases in the Indonesian language check out this video. Learning these Indonesian phrases before visiting the country will help you immensely as you travel around and impress local Indonesians!