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bennylinTuesday 13th of July 2004 04:29:41 PM
Greetings - When greeting and taking leave of one another, Indonesians shake hands lightly (not firmly, the way Americans do). Muslims touch the right hand to their heart afterwards as a gesture of goodwill. (Never use the left hand to greet or touch some one.) Kissing, hugging or other physical greetings are never practiced in public (uncommon).


Selamat is a word used in most Indonesian greetings. It comes from the Arabic salam (shalom), meaning peace, safety or salvation. By itself, the exclamation Selamat! means "Congratulations!"

Like English "good," it is followed by the time of day and other words to form most common greetings:

Selamat datang : Welcome (datang = to come)
Selamat pagi : Good morning (pagi = morning, until 11 am)
Selamat siang : Good day (siang = midday, from 11 am to 3 pm)
Selamat sore : Good afternoon (sore = late afternoon, 3 pm to nightfall)
Selamat malam : Good evening (malam = night, after dark)
Selamat tidur : Good night (tidur = to sleep)


Apa kabar is another common greeting which literally means "What's the news" (apa = what, kabar = news), or in other words "How are you?" The standard answer is Kabar baik, meaning "I am fine" (baik = well, fine).


You will also find yourself greeted with the following questions, even by complete strangers:

Mau kemana?
(lit: Want-to-where?)
Where are you going?

Dari mana, pak/bu?
(lit: From-where-pak/bu?)
Where are you [coming] from?

This is said out of curiosity, and the person is usually not all that interested where you are actually going or coming from. This is just another way of saying "Hello!"

You may answer:

Dari [+ place]
From [+place]

Saya mau ke [+ place]
I am going to [+ place]

Jalan-jalan saja.
(lit: Walk-walk-only)
Just going for a walk.

Makan angin. or Cari angin
(lit: eat-wind or searching-wind)
Just out for some air.

Tidak kemana-mana.
(lit: Not-to-anywhere)
Not anywhere in particular.

When taking leave of someone, it is polite to excuse oneself by saying:

Mari, saya pergi dulu.
(lit: Let's. I-go-first)
Excuse me, I am going now.(= Goodbye for now!)

Sampai jumpa lagi.
See you again.

More informally, you can also say:

Da da! or even Bye-bye!
Goodbye (so long!)
Note:
Da! comes from the Dutch dag meaning "day".
Bye-bye is from English.

If you are the one staying behind, you respond by saying:

Selamat jalan.
(lit: Safe-journey.)
"Bon voyage."