Your survival guide to speaking to the locals
Indonesian is a simple language at the beginning and becomes increasingly harder as you go along but for those just wanting to know the basics, however, it couldn’t be a more simple language to learn.
In Indonesian there are no tenses, the grammar is very simple and learning just a few words will help you greatly on your trip to Bali. In fact, it’s definitely worth your time to learn even just 10 words because people will respect you much more when they know you are at least trying to learn their language.
The most important words in just about any language are the ones you use on a daily basis in your own language, and they should be the ones you should start learning in Indonesian aswell. It’s not about correct sentence structure or exact grammar when learning to converse, but rather the key here is correct pronunciation and being understood. For example, there are a few alphabetic sounds in Indonesian that are different to English such as the letter C with is pronounced CH as in chair and also the letter U which is pronounced OO as in poo. Once you remember these and a few other simple differences you will be better understood and can more easily achieve things like asking for directions or how much something costs et cetera.
Another important thing in Indonesian is that everybody has a title and if someone is older than you it is especially important to address them appropriately. For example, if you are speaking with an older man you must call him Pak, (From Bapak – Father) this is like calling someone Sir and it is rude if you do not use this title when speaking with them. Similarly it is the same for an older woman and you must address her as Ibu (mother) or just Bu for short. It may be a little difficult to get used this at first as we don’t commonly use formal titles or address people unknown to us as “father” or “mother” in English speaking cultures, but after only a short time you’ll get used to speaking this way and it will become second nature.
By using words daily they’ll stick in your mind before no time and remember, as when learning any new language, the best thing is to always remain confident.
So now onto some basic words
Hai – Hello
Selamat pagi – Good morning (until 10am)
Selamat Siang – Good Afternoon (10am – 3pm)
Selamat Sore – Good Evening (3pm – 6pm)
Selamat Malam – Good evening or good night
Selamat Tidur – Sleep well or good sleep
Selamat Jalan – Safe Journey
Terima Kasih – Thank you
Saya – I/me/my
Anda / Kamu – You (Formal/Informal : mostly used when addressing older/younger persons)
Permisi – Excuse me
Ya – Yes
Tidak – No
Nama Saya ……. – My name is ………
Siapa Nama Anda/kamu? – What is your name?
Mau – Want
Apa – What
Di mana – Where?
Ini / Itu – This / That
Saya mau itu – I want that
Apa itu? – What is that?
(Anda/Kamu) Mau ke mana? – Where are you going/Where do you want to go?
Suka – Like
Saya suka itu – I like that
Saya tidak suka ini – I don’t like this
Di mana ………? Where is …….?
Dari mana? – Where are you from (country)? (literally, from where?) You will be asked this a lot.
Ada – Is there are or there
Makan – Eat
Minum – Drink
Air – Water
Jam – Hour/time
Ada air minum? – Is there any drinking water?
Berapa – How much? (Berapa can be used to say how much or how many)
Berepa harganya? How much is the price?
Jam Berapa – What time is it?
Boleh – To be allowed to or may do something
Minta – To ask
Boleh saya minta ……. – Can I please have ……. (Used when ordering food)
Mungkin – Maybe
Bisa – Can
Bicara – Speak
Coba – Try
Bahasa – Language
Inggriss – English
(Pak/Bu) Bisa bicara bahasa Inggriss? – Can you speak English?
Satu – One Se belas – Eleven Tiga puluh – Thirty
Dua – Two Dua belas – Twelve Empat Puluh – Forty
Tiga – Three Tiga belas – Thirteen Lima Puluh – Fifty
Empat – Four Empat belas – Fourteen Enam Puluh – Sixty
Lima – Five Lima Belas – Fifteen Tujuh puluh – Seventy
Enam – Six Enam Belas – Sixteen Delapan Puluh – Eighty
Tujuh – Seven Tujuh Belas – Seventeen Sembilan Puluh – Ninety
Delapan – Eight Delapan Belas – Eighteen Seratus – One hundred
Sembilan – Nine Sembilan Belas – Nineteen Seribu – One thousand
Sepuluh – Ten Dua Puluh – Twenty Seratus Ribu – One hundred thousand
Juta – Million
Seratus juta – One hundred million
In any language learning just 300 words represents around 65% of all the words that you’ll use on a regular basis. Arming yourself with even the basics can go a huge way and you’ll find that you get things cheaper and you’ll have a deeper connection with the locals. It’s like a secret key that you can carry around with you when you’re travelling and you’ll be surprised at how many new doors it’ll open.
If you would like to further your Indonesian studies then there are 4 main schools in Bali that offer courses. They are Cinta Bahasa Indonesia, Seminyak Language School, IALF and Bali language school. All appeal to different types of study so check them out and see which one suits you best. The courses usually start at the beginning of each month and if you would like private tutoring, that can also be arranged.
Selamat Jalan dan hati hati