How is it possible to study Indonesian with Malay? Well, it is possible because they are practically the same language! So when you study the 64 lessons of the Basic Malay Language course here it is just like you are learning the Indonesian language. Except, yes except for the few differences that are brought up here in relation to each of the lessons in the Malay language course. Plus the many tables that I have compiled to make it easier for you to cross over from Malay to Indonesian. Isn't that fantastic?
So let's start your study of Indonesian by going to Lesson 1 of the Basic Malay Language Course here. At the end of each lesson you will see a table highlighting the differences between Malay and Indonesian. Just take note of these differences and as you continue with the other lessons in the course you will be on your way to studying Indonesian as well. To facilitate the study of Indonesian by those who have already completed the Basic Malay Language Course I have put all the tables together here for easy reference. But please bear in mind that they are not at all meant to be studied by themselves without first having gone through the specific lessons to which they refer. This is not how this page is intended to be used.
Please bear in mind also that in certain cases there is no real distinction between the Malaysian and Indonesian languages. In fact it is reported that there are over two million Indonesian workers in Malaysia* (the majority working as housemaids, others are employed in the agriculture, construction or manufacturing sectors), most of whom don't speak English. This naturally results in the adoption (and absorption) of many Indonesian words into the Malay language. In fact there is often no real line of demarcation between what is considered to be an Indonesian word and what is a Malay word. Thus both aku and saya are equally used for "I" in the two countries though Indonesia tends to use aku more than saya. It is for this reason that I often use aku in the Indonesian column and saya in the Malay column.
But there are other words that are exclusively used in one country and not in the other or do not have the same signification in Malaysia as they have in Indonesia. Take the word duduk as an example. In Malaysia the word can mean "live, stay" eg. You can ask someone Encik duduk di mana? and he is likely to tell you where he lives but if you were to ask the same question to an Indonesian who is seated in his office Bapak duduk di mana? he will be completely puzzled because in Indonesia the word duduk can only mean "sit" (although it also has this meaning in Malaysia). His reaction would probably be (thinking to himself): You must be crazy. Why are you asking me this? I'm sitting on a chair - of course! So unless you want to be considered an orang gila (mad person, gila is pronounced as ghee-la) remember this when you are in Indonesia! Use the word tinggal instead as it has the same meaning in both countries. So Encik tinggal di mana? in Malaysia and Bapak tinggal di mana? in Indonesia.
Another striking difference is that if someone were to say Terima kasih (Thank you) to you in Malaysia, you would answer with Sama-sama whereas in Indonesia you would say Terima kasih kembali or simply Kembali.
There is one word frequently used in Indonesia though which could make your face turn red with embarrassment in Malaysia if you should use it wrongly so watch out. The word is butuh and it means "to need" in Indonesia eg. Saya butuh pertolongan anda (= I need your help) while in Malaysia the word butuh means a man's private part! In Malaysia you have to use the word perlu instead so the same sentence would be Saya perlu pertolongan anda. Oh by the way a word which is as frequently used as pertolongan in both countries is bantuan, also meaning "help" or "assistance". Good to remember in case you come across it.
Another word you have to watch out for is punggung which in Indonesia means your back so "I have a backache" would be Saya sakit punggung whereas in Malaysia it means your buttocks!
Then there is kaki lima which means a pavement or sidewalk in Malaysia but is used to describe an itinerant food hawker in Indonesia.
A word about pronunciation: Don't worry too much about the pronunciation as you will be understood if you speak Malay in Indonesia. Of course there are different Indonesian accents, much of which is the result of influence by the numerous regional dialects, but if you should speak basic Malay, you will be understood without any problem.
* Article in The Jakarta Post dated 7 May, 2012.
This page contains all the tables mentioning the differences between the Malaysian and Indonesian languages from the Basic Malay Language Course of 64 lessons. (From the top menu go to Languages then Malaysian and Indonesian Languages.) They will give you an idea on how this Basic Malay language course is adapted for those who want to study Indonesian. The tables below are NOT meant to be studied by themselves. You will never learn Indonesian this way! Good luck. - Webmaster
Quite often there is a slight difference in spelling between Malaysian and Indonesian words, particularly in words containing double consonants. If my memory serves me right Malaysian linguists at some time in the past rejected the use of double consonants, insisting that there should always be a vowel between them. As a result while the Indonesian spelling is Inggris, the Malaysian spelling is Inggeris. The same is true for istri (isteri in Malaysia) and Spanyol (Sepanyol in Malaysia). This is due to the difficulty for some Malaysians to pronounce two consonants together. However if this is not a problem for you, you can always pronounce Inggeris or isteri not in 3 syllables but in two (the way it is spelt in Indonesian).
Please bear in mind that what you hear in Indonesia might not always be standard Indonesian but rather one of the numerous dialects (Javanese, Sundanese, Madurese, Minangkabau, Bugis, Acehnese, Balinese, Batak, etc.)
He/She is my friend.
Dia teman saya.
Dia kawan saya.
his friend or her friend
all of you
kalian, anda sekalian
Addressing a man (politely)
Bapak or Pak
Tuan or Encik
Addressing a woman (politely)
Ibu or Bu, Tante
Addressing a young male person of your age or slightly older
Addressing a young female person of your age or slightly older
As you will notice there are not too many differences in the names of the countries mentioned in this lesson. However while Malay normally retains the English spelling of a country, Indonesian often changes the spelling a bit. Examples are: Skotlandia (Scotland in Malay) and Irlandia (Ireland in Malay). One country that you might not recognize is "Selandia Baru", which is Indonesian for New Zealand (Malay retains the English name).
If there is one aspect that varies greatly between the Malaysian and Indonesian languages it is in telling the time.
Firstly in Malaysia when we ask the time it is Pukul berapa? and the answer also starts with Pukul followed by the hour while in Indonesia they ask Jam berapa? with the answer starting with Jam followed not necessarily by the hour (eg. it can be Jam setengah followed by the hour).
Secondly the half-hour is completely different from what is said in Malaysia. Thus half-past seven would be Pukul tujuh setengah to Malaysians whereas the Indonesians would say Jam setengah lapan. Since we could miss an appointment completely by one hour or we might be one whole hour too early for an appointment it is very important that we get this right when we are in Indonesia. It is easy to understand that Jam setengah lapan means "half past seven" and not "half past eight" simply because setengah (meaning "half") comes BEFORE lapan (eight) so it must be half an hour BEFORE 8 o'clock and not after it. But as it is a bit difficult for English speakers to adapt to this way of thinking (ah, cultural differences do count in language learning!) it is perfectly all right for you, on your part, to say Jam tujuh tiga puluh minit if it's easier for you.
Thirdly while a quarter of an hour is suku in Bahasa Malaysia, it is seperempat (literally "one out of four parts") in Bahasa Indonesia. Both words mean "a quarter" of something. But if seperempat is too much of a mouthful for you, just say lima belas menit instead. It's clear, concise and you will not be misunderstood. Just as in English 10h15 can be either "a quarter past ten" or simply "ten fifteen" we can say Jam sepuluh lewat seperempat or Jam sepuluh lewat lima belas menit in Bahasa Indonesia and Pukul sepuluh suku or Pukul sepuluh lima belas minit in Malaysia.
Fourthly the use of the word lewat (sometimes the word lebih meaning "more" is used instead) in telling time in Indonesia. In Malaysia the word lewat is used in the sense of being late for an event and never used to tell the time as in Indonesia. The word lewat simply means "past" and is used up to the 29th minute past the hour. For English speakers when you hear the word lewat you can just ignore it, thus when you hear Jam sembilan lewat dua puluh lima menit just treat it as Jam sembilan dua puluh lima menit (nine twenty-five). Why complicate things when we can simplify them? So, to give another example, treat Jam lima lewat sembilan belas menit as Jam lima sembilan belas menit (five nineteen). This is just between the two of us, please don't try to correct the Indonesians! If you want to specify whether it is morning or evening, etc. you can add pagi, siang, sore or malam to it.
After the half hour you can use kurang to indicate the number of minutes short of the hour mentioned eg. 07h50 or 19h50 ("ten to eight" in English) is Pukul lapan kurang sepuluh minit in Malaysia and Jam delapan kurang sepuluh menit in Indonesia (literally "eight o'clock short of 10 minutes").
A word about punctuality. When you want to specify that an event starts precisely at a certain time the word to use is tepat (both in Malaysia and Indonesia). Thus Pukul dua tepat or Jam dua tepat means "2 o'clock sharp". In Indonesia (but not in Malaysia) they have a term to denote the opposite concept (i.e. when the time given is just an approximation and you are not required nor expected to be on time nor should you expect the other person to be punctual either). In this case they will use the term jam karet which is another way of saying "Let's play it cool, buddy. Let's take our own sweet time to arrive!"
In the Indonesian language the two principal forms of salutation not used in Malaysia are Selamat siang and Selamat sore. The word siang means "daytime" (specifically late morning or early afternoon) while sore means "late in the afternoon". The word sore (pronounced so-ray) is never used by Malaysians (but might be eventually, who knows?)
As in Malaysia Selamat pagi and Selamat malam are equally used in Indonesia while instead of Selamat tengah hari the Indonesians would say Selamat siang. The following is a guide to the time of day when the above four types of greetings are used in Indonesia:
From about 4.00 a.m. to 10 a.m. Selamat pagi
From about 10.00 a.m. to 3 p.m. Selamat siang
From about 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Selamat sore
From about 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. Selamat malam
This is just a rough guide for foreigners. Hey, don't take it to the letter please (or should I rather say "Don't take it to the very minute please"?)
How are you?
See you later.
Sampai jumpa or Sampai nanti.
Excuse me (as when you have to pass between two people).
Although Indonesia has its own culinary delights (equally chilli-based), saté and rendang are as popular there as they are in Malaysia as well as the more down-to-earth nasi goreng (fried rice) and ikan goreng (fried fish). In case you are a foodnatic go here for some great Indonesian dishes.
While both anak lelaki (son) and anak perempuan (daughter) are also used in Indonesia, please note that putra (for son) and putri (for daughter) are also much used in Indonesia though the two words normally mean "prince" and "princess". From the above you can see that terms denoting family relationships are quite different depending on whether you are in Malaysia or Indonesia. However half of them are similar in both countries (all those terms that do not appear in this table).
Please note that "Silahkan" is also spelt "Silakan" in Indonesian.
Please come to my house when you are free.
Jemputlah ke rumah saya bila anda ada waktu.
Sila datang ke rumah saya bila senang.
Please note that "senang" means "happy" in Indonesian while it means "free" (not busy) as well as "easy" (simple) in Malaysia. The word "gampang" is often used to mean "easy" (simple) in Indonesian while another word "mudah" is used in both countries to mean "easy".
Make yourself at home.
Anggap saja di rumah sendiri.
Buat seperti di rumah sendiri.
Can I borrow your pen for a moment?
Dapatkah saya meminjam pena anda sebentar?
Boleh saya pinjam pen anda sekejap?
Please don't worry too much trying to keep Indonesian and Malay apart. You will notice that the Indonesian and Malay sentences are quite often interchangeable and that there is no real line of demarcation between the two languages. It is just that one form might be more often used than another in Indonesia or in Malaysia, that's all there is to it.
He was angry with me just now because I didn't help him.
Dia marah dengan aku tadi karena aku tidak membantunya.
Dia marah dengan saya tadi kerana saya tidak tolong dia.
He will be back soon.
Dia akan kembali sebentar lagi.
Dia akan balik sekejap lagi.
At the risk of repeating myself please note that there is often no real line of demarcation between the two languages and that the Indonesian and Malay sentences in my examples above are often interchangeable. So if a word is put under Indonesian or Malay it does not mean that that word is not also used in the other country. It simply means that that word is more popularly used in one country than in the other, that's all.
I have to repeat again that often, when a word is put under Indonesian it does not mean that that word is not also used in Malaysia. It simply means that that word is more popularly used in Indonesia than in Malaysia, that's all. So ibu is as much used as emak in Malaysia for "mother". The same goes for kirim which is as much used as hantar in Malaysia for "sending" a letter or email. Just as aku is as much used as saya in Malaysia - but you know this already!
With the common spelling between Malaysia and Indonesia that came into being in 1972, pronunciation has become the least important aspect for someone who has studied Malay to speak Indonesian. This does not mean that there are no differences of course. But a student of Malay will not really need to re-adapt his pronunciation when he speaks Indonesian. Just speak the Malay you have learnt and your Indonesian interlocutor will most likely be able to understand you. But then even for Malay itself there is no ONE standard pronunciation, for the Malay spoken in East Malaysia is slightly different from the Malay spoken in West Malaysia while even the Malay spoken in Penang is slightly different from the Malay spoken in Kelantan - and yet both of these States are in West Malaysia.
Note what is mentioned in para 4 above though. The Indonesians always roll their r's.
Again as I have pointed out several times already, owing to linguistic influences that one country has over the other (and in both directions), what is given as the Indonesian version above is also intelligible in Malaysia and vice versa.
Bahasa Malaysia lebih mudah daripada Bahasa Perancis.
Bahasa Malaysia lebih senang daripada Bahasa Perancis.
Note that while senang is frequently used in Malaysia for "simple" or "easy", the word has a different meaning altogether in Indonesia. There it means "happy" or "contented". The Indonesians use mudah or gampang when they want to say that something is "easy" or "simple" (though mudah is equally used in Malaysia). But to say that something is "difficult", both countries use either susah, sukar or sulit. You have three words to choose from and anyone of them will be understood whether you are in Malaysia or Indonesia.
As you would have noticed, there are quite a number of differences for the names of various occupations between Bahasa Malaysia and Indonesian. Earlier on you must have noticed that there were very few differences between the two languages when it comes to adjectives.
Its flexibility in creating new words can be seen in the word "kudeta", the Indonesian word for "coup d'état" created entirely from its pronunciation alone! Talking about ingenuity...
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Note 1: You can simply say Maaf or its full form Maafkan saya when you have to interrupt a person (as when asking him a question) or when you have to pass before him (but the Indonesians are more likely to say Permisi in such a case).
Note 2: The use of Apa as a question indicator (see sentences 14 and 19 above) is strictly an Indonesian phenomenon. When Malaysians use Apa you can always translate it as "What".
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INDONESIAN DICTIONARY: In case you are looking for a good Indonesian dictionary I can recommend the Tuttle Concise Indonesian-English/English-Indonesian Dictionary. It's not too expensive, not bulky despite its 700 pages and it's recent (2014 edition). It can also be delivered anywhere in the world in hardly a month. Here is an extract from its introduction to the Indonesian language which I find interesting:
Indonesian acts as a unifying force among speakers of around 750 regional dialects across the archipelago. Indonesian is also understood in Singapore and Malaysia, as it is mutually intelligible with Malay, thus making it one of the major languages of Southeast Asia...Its ability to absorb new influences yet repackage them in a typically Indonesian way makes it highly dynamic in its interaction with other languages, both local, foreign, dead and living, but also susceptible to regional variation and inclined to inconsistency, particularly in spellings of borrowed words.