Indonesian Alphabet Pronunciation – Exercises

Hello. Selamat datang!

Without a doubt, Indonesian Alphabets is one of the very first and basic thing to learn when we talked about Bahasa Indonesia. Although the formation of the alphabet has no different with English, there is a slight difference with the pronunciation (Check also Indonesian Words Pronunciation). This happened because Bahasa Indonesia has very strong Dutch influence, which caused by colonialism.

Do you know, beside Loanwords from Dutch, the first Indonesian formal spelling rules or we call it ejaan was made by Dutch? Therefore, it is called ejaan van Ophuijsen (van Ophuijsen spelling system) and the Indonesian alphabet Pronunciation is based on it.

Name such as Soekarno is one of the example of the spelling system implementation. Nonetheless, it had changed two times into newer spelling system, which are Ejaan yang Disempurnakan (literal meaning si Perfected Spelling System) in the 70s and Pedoman Umum Ejaan Bahasa Indonesia (Bahasa Indonesia Spelling General Principle), which introduced in the 2015. However, the alphabet is basically same, just has slightly different in terms of spelling.

Further readings: Indonesian to English Grammar

Indonesian Alphabet Pronunciation!

Okay, this table is the basic pronunciation of Indonesian Alphabet Pronunciation. You could try to identify the difference with your native language or English.

Aa [ɑ] Bb[be] Cc[ce] Dd[de] Ee[e] Ff[ef] Gg[ge} Hh[hɑ] Ii[i] Jj[ʤe]
Kk[kɑ] Ll[el] Mm[em] Nn[en] Oo[o] Pp[pe] Qq[ki] Rr[er] Ss[es] Tt[te]
Uu[u] Vv[fe] Ww[we] Xx[eks] Yy[ye] Zz[zet]        

If you notice, the group of alphabet is completely same with the English, but only f, l, m, n, s and x has the same pronunciation of letter (just in the alphabet system). In contrast, it is very similar with Dutch and German, because it is based by Dutch Alphabet System. It becomes on of the Main Differences Between Bahasa Indonesia and Malaysian Language, which mostly influenced by the British.

Nonetheless, most of it has similar pronunciation when implemented in a word. In addition, some combination of Indonesian alphabet also create a combined pronunciation, which are ai [ay], oi [oy] and au [aw], ng [ŋ], ny [ñ] and some consonant clusters. Furthermore, even though it is in our alphabet system, the letter ‘q’ and ‘x’ are not used in Bahasa Indonesia (except for loanwords like Xenon, Xenio, box, Barberque, status quo)

Check also: Indonesian Phonetics, Indonesian Diphtongs and Indonesian Consonant Clusters

Here are some examples of the Indonesian Alphabet implementation. Try to pronounce it and notice the difference:

  • rusa [rusa]
  • tari [tari]
  • benda [bənda]
  • lebar [lebar]
  • sengau [səŋaw]
  • laut [lawut]
  • dia [diya]
  • abad [abat]
  • nyanyi [ñi]
  • meranggas [məraŋas]
  • praktik [prak‘tik]
  • stasiun [staʃun]

Learn it and enhance your skill in Indonesian Phonemes and English Phonology VS Indonesian Phonology

Now, try to pronounce by yourself these words. Do not hesitate to make mistakes!

  • bari
  • cari
  • dari
  • hari
  • jari
  • kari
  • lari
  • mari
  • nari
  • pari
  • sari
  • tari
  • bawa
  • rawa
  • tawa
  • duri
  • dari
  • dara
  • dori
  • beri
  • ceri
  • nyamuk
  • ngaum
  • mengenyam

Check also: Hard Indonesian Word to Pronounce

More of about Indonesian Alphabet Pronunciation!

Notice: because the van Ophuijsen was revised in the 1970’s, you could find that the influence are still felt, both in Indonesian spelling or pronunciation. Here are the some alphabets different of van Ophuijsen to recent Indonesian spelling system.

  • oe became u
  • tj became c
    *you might found there are some Indonesian pronounce ‘c’ as [se] and others as [ce]. The first condition is influenced by van Ophuijsen Spelling System.
  • dj became j
  • j became y
  • ie became i (you will find some Indonesian names with the formation of ‘ie’ but pronounce as ‘i’,  like fauzie, susie)
  • -tie became –si (some of Indonesian, which still strong influenced by van Ophuijsen spelling system, pronounce word such as polisi [polisi] as [polit’si] like the ‘-tie’ in Dutch.

Notes: you might notice older Indonesian people (mostly in the big city) name would probably still influenced by these system, even the way they pronounce several words is still influenced by it (some use it to give ‘old-fashioned’ sense. You could also check something like Indonesian Proclamation and notice the differences!

Now, you know more about Indonesian Alphabet Pronunciation. But, the knowledge should be implemented to practice. Language is a skill, so it is all about practice and practice. Therefore, you should find as many words as you can. Here are some articles that could help you to find uncountable Indonesian Vocabulary to practice your pronunciation. Please take a look!

Good luck and see you really soon!