Indonesian Communication Style – Examples


Indonesian is a very unique country with diverse culture. However, similar to other countries, the society has their own style, including in terms of communication. You might not just find that in Indonesian to English Grammar, but also the way people talk, their diction and many more. Therefore, we will get deeper to understand about Indonesian Communication Style. Here, there are some of most common and general about it.

Further readings:

Using Indonesian Abbreviations

One of the main problems of Bahasa Indonesia to its native speaker is standard language. In Bahasa Indonesia, many of Indonesia like to abbreviate the words in conversation or shorten the chat. Therefore, sometimes it is too stiff to use a formal/standard word, instead, they use the informal one. Here are the examples:

  • Saya tidak berbicara Bahasa Indonesia (I don’t speak Bahasa Indonesia) [Formal/standard]
    Saya gak bicara/ngomong Bahasa Indonesia  (I don’t speak Bahasa Indonesia) [Informal/non-standard]
  • Selamat pagi! (Good Morning!)
    Pagi! (Good Morning)
    Check : Good Morning Greetings in Indonesian
  • Terima kasih (Thank you)
    Makasih/trims (Thank you)
  • Ibu mau pergi ke mana? (Where is mom going?)
    Ibu mau ke mana? (Where is mom going?)
    *pergi means ‘go’

The examples above are mostly found in the oral conversation. In the written form, especially social media or short message, you could find many of informal words abbreviations which sometimes confusing for people who do not understand the context or situation. Here are some of it.

  • A : Dmn? (Di mana – Where are you?)
    : Skolah (Sekolah – I’m at school)
    A : Ngapain? (Sedang apa – What are you doing there?)
    B : Kelas (Saya sedang belajar/kelas – I have classes)
    A : O (Oh)
    B : Y (Ya – Okay)
  • Kamu gpp? (Kamu tidak apa-apa – Are you okay?)
  • rmh yg itu sdg dijual (Rumah yang itu sedang dijual – That house is sold)

The key is know the context, because it is arbitrary. On the other words, there are no official rules about it. But, most of the text abbreviation would reform a word consisting consonant only (sometimes with one or two vowels). Therefore, sometimes, they might have similar form but could refer to different meanings. Here are the examples

  • kmbg could refer to kambing (goat), kumbang (beetle), or kembang (flower)
  • pst could refer to pasti (obvious), pesat (fast), pesta (party) or pesut (river dolphin)

Notes: Sometimes in chat, people love to use emoticon or ‘laugh sound’. If in general you know ‘hahaha’ for laugh, in Bahasa Indonesia usually people use ‘wkwk’ or ‘wkwkwkwkwk’ to refer the ‘hahaha’ sound. Therefore, do not be confuse if you find ‘wkwk’ in your chat. 

Using Indonesian Title

As you know in Indonesian Greeting Etiquette and Manners, in Indonesia you must put the title before mention someone’s name, especially to older people. For example, you could never call your parents or school teacher only by their name. It shows respect and politeness.

Even instead of using ‘kamu’ (you) or ‘Anda’ (more formal ‘you’). It is more polite to call people with title, such as Bapak/Pak (Sir) or Ibu/Bu (Madam). Here are some titles.

  • Bapak/Ibu or Pak/Bu (Sir/Madam)
  • Mas/Mbak
  • Abang
  • Kakak
  • Professor
  • Nyonya
  • Nona

Further readings: Indonesian Cultural Words

Other Indonesian Style

There are many different Indonesian communication style based on the region. It is influenced by its society. Therefore, sometimes you could find it respectful in one place but very disrespectful in other. Here are the examples.

  • How to say I and You
    In Bahasa Indonesia, the formal translation for ‘I’ and ‘You’ is ‘saya’ and ‘kamu’. But, every culture has their own ‘saya’ dan ‘kamu’. For example, in Jakarta, most of their citizen refer I as ‘gua’ and you as ‘lu’ to their peer. In contrast, in Yogyakarta, most people refer I as ‘aku’ dan you as ‘kamu’ to the peer. The ‘gua’ and ‘lu’ are considered impolite or ‘too Jakarta-ish’. On the other side, using ‘aku’ dan ‘kamu’ in Jakarta for peers sometimes considered ‘too countrified’ or mostly used by lovers to their couple.
  • Slang words
    Every region has its own slang words. But, some of it is general and each has their own period of popularity. There are many ways to form a slang words.
    a new word
    In example alay (cheesy), jayus (try to be funny).
    slang words from abbreviation.
    In examples, baper (bawa perasaan/too sensitive), pd (percaya diri, confident), nastel (nasi telur, rice with egg).
    slipping words
    such as sotoy from sok tau (people who think know everything), bingit from banget (very), cucok from cocok (matched, fit), sans from santai (slow down) and many more.
    reversing words.
    In examples: kuy from yuk (c’mon), takis from sikat (go for it)

Further reading: Javanese Slang Words

Now you are one step forward in your Bahasa Indonesian Lesson. Hopefully, this knowledge about Indonesian Communication Style might help you to master Bahasa Indonesia. Of course, you need to learn more. Here are some useful articles. Keep practice!