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Basic concept of pronunciation in Indonesian language.

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  • Basic concept of pronunciation in Indonesian language.

    Hi guys, i'm currently in my spare time and write this because i'm "itchy" to jot something down.. plus people might find this useful. Though i trust that most veteran expats in here already know of this.

    Introduction
    The most obvious difference between english and indonesian pronunciation is in the vowels..Learning how to correctly pronounce indonesian words should be much easier than learning how to pronounce in english, since there are no rules / exceptions...Example : In english, an 'i' can be read with the 'y' sound such as "fine, mind, line, shine, etc" or transformed to the 'ee' sound such as "fish, inland, etc". But for indonesian language, all the vowels are read as it is no matter what consonants you combine it with. Learning to read indonesians with this system in mind will save you all the trouble of memorizing all indonesian word pronunciation. So, let's start :

    Vowels

    'a'
    in indonesian is read as 'u' in "uh" similar to how you'd pronounce "fun, duck, luck, etc", exactly as how you'd read an 'a' in "market, retard, star, dark, card, smart, etc"

    'i'
    is similar to the sound of 'ee' in "geek, sleek, tree, green, seek, need, etc" , just like how you'd say 'i' in "mint, finish, fling, etc"

    'u'
    is pronounced like 'oo' in "drool, zoom, room, fool, etc", exactly like how we say 'u' in "full, rule, etc". It will never transform to 'u' in "unique, uniform, etc" by itself, you have to combine with the letter 'y' to make that sound, as in 'yuk mari'

    'e'
    There are 2 kinds of 'e's :
    1. The more dominant one, which sounded like 'a' in "fan, ran, back, ram, man, many, etc" or 'e' in "men, deck, hemp, connect, merry, etc"
    2. The other one that sounded like 'ea' in "early, earn, learn, etc", which is just another 'e' in "fern, minister", 'u' in "fur", or 'i' in "firm".
    To easily differentiate, both 'e's are used in the word "member"

    There is no written/systemic rule as to know when to use which, just that you have to rely on your memory on how it is used... so, conversations with locals would be very good to add to your pronunciation vocab. Sometimes people from "daerah" mispronounce it themselves, which is perfectly okay because it is still perfectly understandable.. I found it alot particularly from people of timor leste/NTT, and some others.

    'o'
    is the same sound we would pronounce 'o' in "loss, floss, trophy, photo, etc"

    Consonants and Abbreviations
    Consonants are pretty much the same as in english.. But there is something special in indonesians consonants, mainly how people oftenly shorten the words. Usually if the first and last letter are consonants, then ommiting ALL the vowels in that word is doable. It is however done to words that are used often.

    Example :
    1. Sekarang can be transformed to "skrg" or "skrng"
    2. Selamat to "slmt"
    3. Dapat to "dpt"
    in the case of prefix-suffix situation such as Mendapatkan, in casual texting, you can write "mendptkan" and it would still be perfectly understandable... Some even go all the way "mndptkn", there is no established rule regarding this.

    The only problem would be if there is the same order of consonants, such as "bikin" and "bukan", which both are often shortened as "bkn".. In such a case, we usually look at the context in which this word is used.
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    Old Alphabets
    This part here is to be ignored if you dont care about old Indonesian alphabet, it is not used anymore due to "language evolution". People of older generation knew of this, since long before now, the alphabet 'Y', 'J', 'U', and 'C' do not exist like they are now.

    The old alphabets of Indonesia language are listed as follow :

    J = Y
    Dj = J
    Oe = U
    Tj = C

    For example : "Djakarta baroe jang tertjinta" evolved into the "Jakarta baru yang tercinta" we have now.

    The usage is just simple replacement without any change in both meaning / pronunciation... so, you can practically write "Cinta Laoera", "ramboet", "sepatoe", etc without any guilt to Indonesians. It would be a surprise too if expats use it, probably because mostly we would not suspect bules to know the old alphabet. But be wary that the 'J' usage for 'Y' is much less wellknown and even indonesians themselves might not get it, esp the newer generation. Popular application might only include the 'Oe' ("poetra" = "putra") and 'Dj' ("Djarum" = "jarum", though technically it is supposed to be "djaroem").
    _______________________________________

    If there is something glaringly wrong (misleading) with this tutorial, then i apologize and would very much appreciate input...
    I'm just posting what's on my mind right now, and there might be some oversight to certain things. It is mainly how I think about indonesian language as an indonesian myself.
    Thank you.
    Last edited by sand86id; 10-06-15, 18:02. Reason: Added necessary information and some corrections

  • #2
    A: Kelapa ?!

    I: There is a big difference between the short "i" and "ee" (or "ie")

    U: That's why it used the be an "oe" during the Dutch era and until the spelling reform.

    What you did not mention, is that the "c" did not really exist, it was a "tj". Like Atjar Tjampoer. (Or tertjinta in your example.)

    It wasn't a natural evolution, this spelling reform. It was an attempt to bring the language closer to English, and move away from the Dutch. (We would never say "dj" to a "j".) Also, the aim is to bring Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia closer to each other.
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    • #3
      Originally posted by jstar View Post
      A: Kelapa ?!
      I dont understand what you mean by this
      I: There is a big difference between the short "i" and "ee" (or "ie")
      care to give an example? As i'm having quite a difficulty comprehending... I reckon the sound as very similar, only that 'ee' might be quite a bit longer..
      What you did not mention, is that the "c" did not really exist, it was a "tj". Like Atjar Tjampoer. (Or tertjinta in your example.)
      Right!! Thank you for your correction! That is why i felt a bit odd when writing that sentence, like something is missing.. but couldnt figure out what... I suppose i'm leaning more towards the younger generation.
      It wasn't a natural evolution, this spelling reform. It was an attempt to bring the language closer to English, and move away from the Dutch. (We would never say "dj" to a "j".) Also, the aim is to bring Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia closer to each other.
      Yes, i fully agree with you. I don't know how to define it precisely, so i just made up "language evolution" to best describe it.

      I will update on the 'tj' as per your input. Thanks alot for your correction jstar
      Last edited by sand86id; 10-06-15, 17:55.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by sand86id View Post
        1. The more dominant one, which sounded like 'a' in "fan, ran, back, ram, man, many, etc" or 'e' in "men, deck, hemp, connect, merry, etc"
        I'm confused because to me "fan, ran, back, ram and man" are all pronounced differently from "many". Unless you're Texan
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        [COLOR=#3E3E3E]Or is it an Australian accent?

        [/COLOR]Good post though!

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        • #5
          No problem. Yeah the post is a good 'itch'.

          The two a's in kelapa are pronounced somewhat different. A bit like in ayam or (m)alam.

          The i's are different in words like Inggris or Filipino of course. So the latter is more ee-like (in Dutch those are often ie).
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          • #6
            Thank you... I just hope this could be of help to people wanting to learn Bahasa Indonesia

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            I'm confused because to me "fan, ran, back, ram and man" are all pronounced differently from "many". Unless you're Texan
            Is it really? I seriously couldnt tell the difference...
            [/COLOR]
            [COLOR=#333333]The two a's in kelapa are pronounced somewhat different. A bit like in ayam or (m)alam.[/COLOR]

            [COLOR=#333333]The i's are different in words like Inggris or Filipino of course. So the latter is more ee-like (in Dutch those are often ie).[/COLOR]
            In case of the two 'a's, in my view as indonesian, they all sound the same to me.. Unless ofcourse you're talking about a somewhat malay sounding ones where the second 'a' becomes the sound of an 'e' in "fern"... such as kemane, siape, etc.

            I also could not differentiate the sound of all the 'i's in the example you have given. This probably could be the influence from the language I was raised which made me lack sensitivity to tonal differences (?)

            NB . Would be nice if more people (including fellow indonesians) could also confirm what's been said here.

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