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bennylinTuesday 03rd of August 2004 03:01:38 PM
Why study Indonesian - From Wikibooks, the free textbook project. (

Why Learn Indonesian

Hi, welcome to this Indonesian tutorial.

You might be wondering why on earth you should learn Indonesian. Allow me to persuade you.

Demographic Reasons

Studying Indonesian means you can communicate with more than 200 million Indonesians, only a small percentage of which is able to speak English. Besides, the Malay language is a close relative to Indonesian. You can understand both with ease since there are only some minor differences in vocabulary. Therefore, learning Indonesian translates to the immense access of about 230 million people—including those in Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei.

Practical Reasons

Truly, Indonesian is a "synthetic" language, derived from Sumatran Malay to supplant unity and provide communication means for the then newly-independent nation. Not even half of Indonesians are native speakers, especially those living in rural areas. Many have as their mother tongues Javanese, Sundanese, Madurese, Buginese, Batak, Minangkabau, different Chinese dialects, or some other from the diverse array of local languages.

But what a remarkable synthetic language Indonesian is! It is virtually understandable as a second language across the nation, and is a must for a foreigner living there. It is the language of the bureaucracy, media, and education. And if you are on a business trip to Jakarta, or on vacation in Bali, knowing some Indonesian won't hurt. For those who are just curious language learners or scholarly-oriented people, Indonesian—young as it may be—has an immense collection of literature among Asian languages.

Linguistic Reasons

Indonesian is very easy—honest! Learning it is a valuable experience in itself, and what more: you can pick it up within a few weeks. Here's why it is easy:

* No tenses. Indonesian has no tenses at all. Putting some time indicators (like yesterday, next week, etc.) into your sentence will do.

* No genders or cases. Indonesian has no genders or cases attached to the nouns. So, that means one less rule to learn.

* Simple plurals. Unlike in say, German, plurals are very simple in Indonesian. You only need to repeat the noun (e.g. buku -> buku-buku -> books), or adding quantity indicator (i.e. many, few, etc.) into the sentence (e.g. beberapa buku -> some books).

* Simple conjugation system. Indonesian has a very simple conjugation system. Unlike Indo-European languages such as Spanish or French, words are conjugated to form new words based on the original word. For example: "satu" means one, whereas "bersatu (ber+satu)" means to unite. This also means less words to memorize and you can (sort of) mix-and-match words with known conjugations to form your own word. The catch is that some words cannot be conjugated with some suffixes or prefixes, but you'll learn that it's simple.

* Using only 26 Latin alphabet characters. So, no hassle for typing anything.

* Consistent spelling. Indonesian is very phonetic, just like Italian. Every character is consistently spelled the same way in any word, with only few exceptions. So, if you happen to find a new word, you will always be able to pronounce it correctly.

* No Tones. Indonesian word stress typically fall into the first syllable of the original word. However, no matter where you put the stress on, people will still recognize it.

* Sentence form is similar to English. Indonesian sentence structure is similar to English: Subject + Verb + [Object]. So, you can form sentences in Indonesian easily.

* Everything is regular. Since there is no tenses, no sexes, and simple plurals, everything is regular. Even the conjugation system is regular with some simple rules. You don't need to memorize anything outside the rules.

Okay, I hope now you can see why Indonesian is worthy to learn.

The Catch

Now, the catch is that every language has a culture attached to it. Indonesian is no exception. Since the way Indonesian people think differs from most westerners, there are some hurdles in learning it. For example, most western people prefer active sentences, while Indonesian usually prefer passive sentences and hide the subject if it is not important.

Also, in spoken Indonesian, the grammatical rules are often broken by lots of shortcuts, usually specific to the region. Not to mention about the slangs and idioms. However, all Indonesian that finished their grade school should be able to speak and comprehend proper Indonesian.
BertokoyTuesday 10th of August 2004 07:54:44 AM
hi - interesting...
matahijauTuesday 07th of September 2004 09:54:56 AM
- Dude, you need to cut down that avatar!
fleur_flowerTuesday 07th of September 2004 09:29:47 PM
I love Indonesia - Karena darah Indonesia mengalir di tubuh saya. Maka dari itu saya harus mempelajari dan memperdalam Bahasa Indonesia, jangan kalah sama Bule tulen.. he he he
bennylinWednesday 15th of December 2004 10:03:38 AM
- yep, right!!!

~*Jasmine_333*~Wednesday 26th of January 2005 12:28:06 PM
- So if I wanted to say some Canadian or American Slang, it wouldn't work in the Indonesian language?

For example,...ummm....."awesome!"