Learn about Consonant Phoneme in English and Indonesian

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As a verbal communication, language is a universal system. All languages in the world consist phonemes, morphemes, symbols (check Indonesian Alphabets), and so on. But, right now we will focus in one very specific aspect, which is about Consonant Phonemes in English and Indonesian.

Consonant phonemes is called contoid, which is a speech sound that produced with constriction. The distinct place of air constriction at our speaking device would result different type of contoid. It is universal. You may be wondered is it similar with the usual definition and reference of consonant?

The answer is NO. Consonant is a symbol that may be different with one and another. For example, the symbol ‘b’ is called [be] in Indonesian and [bi] in English, but refer to a symbol of same contoid [b] or in linguistics term: a voiced bilabial stop. However, in Russian the sound is signed by Б or б.

The classification of contoid or consonant phonemes could based on many factors, such as constriction place(s) or linguistics more related factors. But, right now, we would divide it into its type of restriction: stop, nasal,  fricative, affricate, lateral, trill, and semi-vowel. Take a look about the consonant phoneme in English and Indonesian!

1. Stop Contoid [p], [b], [c]. [j], [k], [g], [ʔ]

It is a contoid which produced with full constriction at our speaking device [articulator]. Here take a look at the example

Bahasa Indonesia

  • panas [panas] – hot
  • lupa [lupa] – forget
  • buka [buka] – open
  • sobat [sobat] – friend
  • cara [cara] – method/way
  • juara [juwara] – champion
  • baja [baja] – steel
  • kita [kita] – we
  • anak [a’nak] – child (Jakarta dialects)
  • anak [a’naʔ] – child (Javanese dialects)
  • saat [saʔat] – when
  • nenek [ne’neʔ] – grandma
  • guna [gu’na] – use

However, the [b] would change to [p] if it placed as the last sound of the word. On the other hands, the sound [g] would also chande to [k] or [ʔ] (depends on the dialects) if it placed in the end. It is to soften the sound

  • sebab [səbap] – cause
  • tabib [tabip] – traditional doctor
  • kebab [kəbap] – kebab (Turkey food)
  • gudeg [gudək/gudəʔ] – gudeg (Yogyakarta’s famous food)


  • pack [pæk]
  • clap [klæp]
  • purpose [ˈpɜːpəs]
  • back [bæk] 
  • tab [tæb]
  • coal [kəʊl]
  • kite [kaɪt]
  • bike [baɪk]
  • gun [gʌn]
  • bug [bʌg]
  • suck [sʌk]

Instead of [c] and [j], English has affricate sound (later) 

 2. Nasal [m], [n], [ŋ], [ñ]

Nasal is a speaking sound that has full constriction on the mouth (oral), but the air is released from nose (nasal). It is only has 4 types of sound. Here are the examples.

Bahasa Indonesia

  • makan [makan] – eat
  • sama [sama] – same
  • malam [malam] – night
  • nama [nama] – name
  • kuno [kuno] – ancient
  • bulan [bulan] – moon/month
  • ngantuk [ŋantuk] – sleepy
  • bangun [baŋun] – wake up
  • siang [siyaŋ] – afternoon
  • nyanyi [ñañi] – sing
  • nyamuk [ñamuk] – mosquito
  • banyak [bañak] – many


  • mom [mɒm]
  • come [kʌm] 
  • nun [nʌn]
  • bunny [ˈbʌni]
  • jungle [ˈʤʌŋgl]
  • ŋ]

Notes: there is no [ñ] in English. In fact, the[ŋ] in English is also limited. The sound never come first in a word. It always either in the middle or at the end.

Check also Indonesian Language Pronunciation Guide

3. Fricative [f], [v], [ð], [θ], [s], [z], [x], [h]

Consonant phoneme in English and Indonesian – Fricative is a type of sound that produced with air circulation released through very narrow cavity. This is another group of consonant phonemes in English and Indonesia. Here are the examples.

Bahasa Indonesia

  • fatal [fatal] – fatal
  • vokal [fokal] – vocal
  • kreatif [kreyatif] – creative
  • lava [lafa] – lava
  • suka [suka] – like
  • bos [bos] – boss
  • zat [zat] – substance
  • akhir [axir] – end
  • habis [habis] – out of stock
  • wah [wah] – wow


  • fun [fæn]
  • soft [ft]
  • vase [vɑːz]
  • creative [kri(ː)ˈeɪtɪv]
  • this [ðɪs]
  • teeth [tiːθ]
  • though [ðəʊ]
  • both [bəʊθ]
  • sign [saɪn]
  • zebra [ˈziːbrə]
  • height [haɪt]

You will notice that the sound [v], [ð], [θ] is not exist in Indonesia (except you consciously try to pronounce it]. The sound [v] woul be replaced by [f]. This happened because there is no original word in Bahasa Indonesia using the letter ‘v’. Therefore, because the similarities with the [f], most people usually soften the [v] to [f]

4. Affricate [ʧ], [ʤ], [ʃ]

Affricate is sound that produced by constrict completely the air circulation, then eventually released it. It is the type of sound that not naturally produce by Indonesian speaker, except [ʃ]. However, some dialects use this sound (e.g. Purbalingga people pronounce [c] as [ʧ], check Characteristics of Indonesian Language). Here are the examples.

  • church [ʧɜːʧ
  • bridge [brɪʤ]
  • shine [ʃaɪn]
  • Indonesia [indoneʃa] (Bahasa Indonesia)
  • syarat [ʃarat] – requirement (Bahasa Indonesia)

5. Lateral [l]

It is the sound that produced by the air circulation released at the both side of tounge

  • lalu [lalu] – then (Bahasa Indonesia)
  • pukul [pukul] – hit/time (Bahasa Indonesia)
  • ball [bɔːl]
  • Sally [ˈsæli]
  • like [laɪk]

Read also Learning Indonesian Alphabets

6. Trill [r]

This is the sound that made by vibrate our speaking device. There is significant difference between Bahasa Indonesia and English. In English, it usually is not pronounced, except as the first letter in a syllable. Take a look

  • rust [rʌst]
  • Barry [ˈbæri]
  • car [kɑː] – no [r] sound
  • shortlist [ˈʃɔːtlɪst] – no [r] sound
  • rasa [rasa] – sense (Bahasa Indonesia)
  • bugar [bugar] – fit
  • cara [cara] – way

Now, you know about consonant phoneme in English and Indonesian. To enhance your skill, please check