It’s easy to assume English words or sayings can be translated into Indonesian, however, Indonesian culture is much different from Western culture, so the meanings behind certain expressions are lost and often sound strange to an Indonesian.
|US students with local kids|
- Indonesians don’t usually say, “nice to meet you,” a smile is enough.
- “How are you?” is mostly used when you haven’t seen someone is a while.
- Indonesians don’t like overuse the words “thank you.”
There are also sayings in Indonesia that might sound strange to a foreigner if directly translated into English:
- “Saya pulang dulu”/”Saya permisi dulu.” It’s considered impolite if one leaves without receiving “permission” first. A simple Western style goodbye is acceptable, but it’s not the norm.
- In Indonesia, it’s impolite and disrespectful to use the term “kamu” (you) when talking with older people or even calling them by name. Thus, Indonesians often have a hard time calling foreigners by their name and instead use words like “mister” or “miss” (often without even using one’s name) but will sometimes mix up the gender as age is more important than gender in Indonesia.
- “Makan dulu”/”Yuk makan!” In Indonesia it’s rude to eat in front of others without inviting them to join or at least acknowledging the fact that you are eating.
- “Please” isn’t used much in Indonesian (at least in Sumatra) and isn’t always necessary.
Our hope is that as you study Bahasa Indonesia you will not simply learn a new language, but that you will also gain an understanding of the culture.
|3 Days with bule|
Writer: Lindsay Little & Adriansyah Putera
Photos by Adriansyah Putera & Global Education Centers (GEC)