How to Learn Indonesian Alphabets – Vowel and Consonant

One of the very basic knowledge about learning Bahasa Indonesia is to learn Indonesian Alphabets. Fortunately, in terms of alphabet, Bahasa Indonesia has same system with English, which occurred 26 Latin alphabets (A—Z), even though there are some differences in pronouncing the symbol. You may see Learn Indonesian Pronunciation of Basic Words

It should be noted that we separate the term ‘alphabet’ and ‘phoneme’. While the alphabet is translated as alfabet/huruf and refers to the symbol, the term phoneme is translated as fonem and refers to the sound, which is written in […].

Here take a look in for this Indonesian alphabet and how to pronounce it. Also check A-Z Indonesian Words Pronunciation






















































Because there is actually no official standard phoneme transcript in Bahasa Indonesia that caused by its diverse dialects, alphabets could be pronounce differently and still understandable. Therefore, in several occasion it is okay to pronounce an alphabet differently, such as ‘c’ [se], ‘q’ [kju], ‘y’ [waɪ] and ‘z’ [ʤet].

Indonesian Vowel (a, e, i, o, u)

Similar with English, there are 5 vocals in Bahasa Indonesia. There are several variations (allophone) to pronounce it even though having same symbol of alphabets.

However, because there is no official phoneme transcription like English dictionary, it might be differently pronounce by individual based on their dialects. Nonetheless, usually it will still considered as understandable. (see also Indonesian Language Pronunciation Guide) Here is how it commonly used.

Alphabet Variations (Allophone) Example Meaning
a ɑ saya [sɑyɑ] I
e e lele [lele] catfish
ɛ leher [lɛhɛr] neck
ə depan [dəpɑn] in front of
i i bibi [bibi] aunt
ɪ bibir [bibɪr] lips
o o toko [toko] shop
tokoh [tokﬤh] figure
u u bangku [bɑŋku] chair
ʊ bungkus [buŋkʊs] take away

Beside that, in Bahasa Indonesia you may also found diftong [dif’toŋ]. Diftong is a vowel cluster that still pronounced as single sound). There is three variation of Indonesian diftong. All of them are positioned at the end of a word.

Diftong Phonem Transcription Example Phonem Transcription Meaning
ai [ɑy] pantai [pɑntɑy] beach
santai [sɑntɑy] relax
gulai [gulɑy] curry
au [ɑw] kalau [kɑlɑw] if
pisau [pisɑw] knife
oi [oy] amboi [ɑm’boy] wow (expression)

Sometimes, there are words that may seems consisting diftong, but is not. It is one difficulties when you learn Indonesian Alphabets. Here are the examples

Word Phonem Transcription Meaning
Air [ɑ’ir] water
Bau [bɑ’u] smell
Menggulai [məŋgulɑ’i] add sugar me-(N) +gula + i

By the tables, you can understand how to learn Indonesian alphabets easily.

Indonesian Consonant

Bahasa Indonesia consists 21 consonants (including ‘y’). Even though it shares similarities with most English consonant, there are several notes you should know.

1. There is no Indonesian word using the ‘x’, except for loan words, such as xenon [senon]. It also happened with ‘q’ and ‘z’.

2. Even though having different reference, ‘f’ and ‘v’ share same sound/pronunciation. This happened because there is no ‘v’ in original word.

It is absorbed from foreign language (especially English) and translated as ‘v’ as alphabet, but ‘f’ in pronunciation.

Here are the example

  • kreatif [kre’ ɑtif]
  • kreativitas [kre’ɑtifitɑs]
  • virus [firus]

3. The sound of ‘b’ and ‘d’ will change into [p] and [t] respectively, if they put in the end of a word.

Here are the examples.

  • buah [bu’ɑh]
  • kebab [kəbɑb]
  • duduk [dudʊk]
  •  abad [ɑbɑt] 

4. There are also several consonant clusters (more than one consonant places together respectively) in Bahasa Indonesia. Some are absorbed from Sanskrit or Arabic words.

Here are the examples
Consonant cluster Transcription Example Transcription Meaning

Consonant cluster Transcription Example Transcription Meaning
ng [ŋ] ngobrol [ŋobrol] talking
tungku [tuŋku] stove
bising [bisiŋ] noisy
ny [ñ] nyanyi [ñɑñi] sing
banyak [bɑñɑk] many
kh [kh} khas [khɑs] unique
sy [ʃ] syarat [ʃɑrɑt] requirement

Here some articles that also help to learn Indonesian Alphabets. By then, we hope you understand how to learn Indonesian alphabets now. Terima Kasih! Thank You!