‘Apakah mau belajar Bahasa Indonesia?’ (Do you want to learn Indonesian?)
Luckily, first thing I found out about Bahasa Indonesia is that is one of the easiest languages I’ve ever come across. There are more than 200 million speakers, being for only 20 million of them their mother tongue since there are more than 700 local languages spoken in all archipelago. As any other country, Indonesians really appreciate when foreigners make the effort to learn their language and surely, personal relationships will improve because of the effort made to learn it, so I was very enthusiastic about learning it even before I arrived.
Here are some 5 top things to know when learning Bahasa:
Pronunciation: basically the same pronunciation than my mother tongue, Spanish, which makes things way easier for me than any other language. You simply pronounce it as you read it. The only different sound is that “c” is pronounced like ‘ch’ (like in ‘chair’) and the ‘ng’ and ‘ny’ might be a bit challenging sometimes to make it easily understood for locals.
Tenses: there are not tenses, as simply as that. The same form of the verb is used no matter which tense or person is being expressed. There are two main words that expresses the idea of past or present: ‘sudah’ (already) and ‘sedang’ (now – present continuous); eg: Saya sudah makan (I’ve already eaten).
And also, just by using the verb plus a time expression you will be all right ‘Saya makan nasi goreng kemarin’ (Yesterday I ate nasi goreng). For future, you simply use “akan” (going to, will) before the verb.
Politeness: Indonesians are extremely polite people, so it is highly recommended to start using these following words once you arrive to Indonesia. Terimah kasih (thank you), sama sama (same to you – you are welcome), apa kabar (how are you?), permisi (excuse me), maaf (I’m sorry), tolong (please) are just a few expressions that will help to make new friends easily
Mau ke mana?: Specially for the first weeks I felt a bit annoyed by all the times I’ve been asked this question, which means ‘where are you going?’. You are going to hear that expression continuosly in Indonesia, and you just need to take it as a very common greeting which is not really meant to be taken literally and, most of the time, the person who asks does not really expect anything other than the person standard reply, ‘Jalan-jalan’, which means ‘just walking around’.
Selamat: this word means a lot of different things, all related to the idea of prosperity and happiness, and’ is used in many Indonesian greetings such as: Selamat pagi (good morning), Selamat siang (good day/afternoon), Selamat soré (good afternoon) or Selamat malam (good night).
In addition to greetings, you can combine selamat with any verb to convey an idea of well wishing in a particular action. Here are some common ones: Selamat makan! (enjoy your food!), Selamat tidur! (Sleep well!) Selamat jalan! (goodbye to the person who leaves) or Selamat tinggal! (goodbye to the person who stays).
Selamat belajar Bahasa!