Learn Indonesian Diphthongs – Formula – Examples

Selamat datang! Welcome back!
After learning about basic Indonesian Alphabets – Vowel and Consonant and Indonesian Words Pronunciation, let’s go deeper to know more about Indonesian language.

You have known that Indonesian has only five vowels, which are ‘a’,’e’,’i’,’o’,’u’. But, beside that, we should also understand about Indonesian diphthongs. Therefore, this time we will learn about Indonesian Diphthongs.

Diphtongs or diftong [dif’toŋ] is a sound formed by the combination of two vowels in a single syllable, in which the sound begins as one vowel and moves toward another. In Indonesian, there are originally only three diphthongs, which are ‘ai, ‘au, and ‘oi’. Almost all of the diphthongs are located at the end of the word. Only in special occasion, diphtong is put in the middle of the word (usually Chinese or new loanwords)

Indonesian diphthongs – Formula – Examples 

Here are the complete explanation about Indonesian diphthongs:

Diphtongs Transcription Example Transcription Meaning
ai [ɑy] pakai [pɑkɑy] wear
sampai [sɑmpɑy] arrive
lalai [lɑlɑy] careless
balai [bɑlɑy] hall
pantai [pɑntɑy] beach
selai [səlɑy] jam
au [ɑw] kalau [kɑlɑw] if
danau [dɑnɑw] lake
pisau [pisɑw] knife
pantau [pɑntɑw] watch
walau [wɑlɑw] though
risau [risɑw] worry
oi [oy] amboi [ɑmboy] wow (expression)
boikot [boy’kot] boycott
koboi [koboy] cowboy
tomboi [tomboy] boyish

However, because the dynamics of Indonesian language, there are additional diphthongs used in slang words, such as ‘ay’ and ‘oy’, as well as ‘ao’ for Indonesian words derived from Chinese.

Take a look!

Diphtongs Transcription Example Transcription Meaning
ay [ɑy] alay [ɑlɑy] cheesy behaviour
oy [oy] sotoy [sotoy] pretentious, think they know-it-all
ao [ɑw] taoco [tɑw’co] (spices)
bakpao [bɑkpɑw] bread (Chinese food)

Furthermore, when you learn about Indonesian Diphthongs, especially in informal occasion, the diphthongs are usually changed (shortened) when it spoken. Sometimes it was influenced by dialects (usually Jakarta) or efficiency cause. Here are the examples.

ai [ɑy] [e] pakai [pɑkɑy] pake [pɑke]
bangkai [bɑŋkɑy] bangke [bɑŋke]
au [oy] [o] kalau [kɑlɑw] kalo [kɑlo]
silau [silɑw] silo [silo]

However, it’s only happened in informal oral conversation. The meanings of both forms are same. Therefore, don’t be shock or confuse when you met this situation.

More to Know about Indonesian Diphthongs

Sometimes it is difficult for non-native speaker to identify a cluster of vowels as diphthong or not. It required the capability to separate the syllables in a word. To enhance the skill, one of the keys is practice and get familiar with Indonesian words.

Furthermore, almost all of the diphthongs are placed in the end of a word. Here are some words that ARE NOT consist diphthong. Pay attention to the syllable and how to pronounce it.

Words Transcription Meaning
Air [ɑ’ir] water
Baik [bɑ’ik] good
Jauh [jɑ’uh] far
Bau [bɑ’u] smell
Saya [sɑ’yɑ] I

If you want to explore learn about Indonesian Diphtongs more, please find as many words as you can and try to identify it. For more practice about your Indonesian language, take a look of these following articles: