Indonesian language

Most spoken languages in Malang are Indonesian language (bahasa Indonesia) and Javanese (bahasa Jawa). But Indonesian is the official language in Indonesia. 

There are hundreds of regional languages/dialects or bahasa daerah. All schools in Indonesia must put Indonesian in their curriculum. So people from different regions in Indonesia can communicate with each other using the Indonesian.

The regional language in Malang is Javanese. Although my Javanese is limited (I wish I could more) I can communicate with the people well. Thanks to the Indonesian as lingua franca. There were just some times that I met people who only speak Javanese. They are mostly old people and are living in a village where everyone speaks Javanese.

Bahasa means language. You tend to translate bahasa Indonesia as Indonesian language. I often hear foreigners saying “I don’t speak bahasa”. It’s not correct because everyone speaks a language, right? You should say “I don’t speak Indonesian” or “I don’t speak bahasa Indonesia”.

Here I won’t give you the whole Indonesian language lesson; just a short introduction, some words and (simple) sentences you’d use often during your stay in Malang. However I’ll put more words once in a while, so check this page regularly.

Salam / Greetings

Selamat  = Congratulation

Selamat pagi = Good morning

Selamat siang = Good afternoon

Selamat malam = Good evening

Selamat makan = Have a good meal

Selamat datang = Welcome

Selamat jalan = Have a good trip

Selamat tinggal = Good bye

Sampai ketemu lagi = See you (later)

Apa kabar = How are you

Terima kasih = Thank you

Sama-sama/terima kasih kembali = You are welcome

Permisi = Excuse me


Perkenalan / introduction

Nama saya … = My name is …

Saya datang dari... = I come from….



Enak = good (for food), yummy, delicious

Enak sekali = very good.

In a restaurant

Saya mau pesan tempat untuk dua orang = I want to reserve a table for two persons.

Saya mau pesan = I want to order

Saya tidak mau makanan yang pedas = I don’t want spicy food

Tanpa cabe = without chili

Tanpa gula = without sugar (for coffee or tea)

Saya mau bayar = Can I have the bill?


Di Pasar /In a traditional market

Berapa harganya? = What does it cost?

Bisa kurang? = Could it be less? (to bargain)

In Indonesian grammar there are no differences in verb for single or plural subjects or in present, past and future tenses.

Example:   I am reading = Saya baca

               I read it  = Saya baca

               I have read it = Sudah saya baca.

You see that the verb baca (to read) is not changed. If an activity/action has happened then you usual use the word sudah that means already.

I can imagine that you would think that Indonesian is easy to learn, especially if the grammar of your native language has different tenses. It seems easy but it can be confusing as well. To understand it well you have to see the context. But this is not a big problem. On the contrary… it is a challenge, a nice side of learning other language, right?

People in Malang/Indonesia will be happy if they know that you, as a foreigner, speak Indonesian. They will be glad to assist you. I know that learning a new language requires lots of time. But it would be helpful and nice if you know basic grammar of the language of the place to go for holiday. So to help you learning basic things and more Indonesian words you can use this Tuttle Pocket Indonesian Dictionary: Indonesian-English English-Indonesian, a handy one.

UPDATE August 2013

Indonesian language is formed by influences of other languages, not only Indonesian regional languages but also from other countries. Here below you see words that are thought originally from Portuguese and Dutch.


Bahasa Indonesia Portuguese English
Bangku Banco Bench
Bendera Bandeira Flag
Biola Viola Violin
Bola Bola Ball
Boneka Boneca Doll
Dadu Dado Dice
Dansa dança Dance
Garpu Garfo Fork
Gereja Igreja Church
Jendela Janela Window
Keju Queijo Cheese
Meja Mesa Table
Kemeja Camisa Men shirt
Mentega Manteiga Butter
Sekolah Escola School
(Hari) Minggu Dominggo Sunday
Sabtu Sabado Saturday
Kertas Carta(s) Paper
Natal Natal Christmas
Nina (Nina bobo) Menina Little girl
Nona Dona Miss
Nyonya Donha Mrs
Pesta Festa Party
Sabun Sabã0 Soap
Sepatu Sapato Shoes
Serdadu Soldado Soldier
Sinyo Senhor Young men
Terigu Trigo Wheat Flour
Tinta Tinta Ink


Bahasa Indonesia Dutch English
Asbak Asbak Ashtray
Balkon Balkon Balcony
Bangkrut Bankroet Bankrupt
Gorden Gordijn Curtain
Handuk Handdoek Towel
Kado Kado/cadeau Present/gift
Kamar Kamer Room
Kulkas Koelkast Refrigerator
Om Oom Uncle
Oma Oma Grand Ma
Opa Opa Grand Pa
Onderdil Onderdeel Part
Rok Rok Skirt
Tante Tante Aunt
Wastafel Wastafel Sink
WC WC Toilet

Are you interested in learning Indonesian language? Do you want to learn it from a native speaker? Do you want to practice your Indonesian? Do you want to have more Indonesian conversation? Fill the form below to get more information or to ask questions.

Special for readers from Holland

Ik geef Indonesische les voor mensen in de buurt van Utrecht, Gorinchem, Leerdam, Geldermalsen en de omgeving. Voor meer informatie of andere vragen kunt u contact met mij opnemen via de contact form hieronder.

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