Indonesian Phonetic Transcription – Formula – Examples

Indonesian language originated coming from Malay languange. Even though the most population of Indonesian people are coming from Java, but Malay language choosen as the language of the nation.

It is because Malay language was used in trading activities long time  ago that connected Java and Sumatra Island. Sometimes it is called as Malay pasar or market Malay because people used it when they are doing trading activities in the market. The Malay language that was used is called low Malay, which mean that it was not used by aristocart level but by common people.

The development of Indonesian language happened by time to time, with the influenced of other language such local language, that is Sanskrit and other language  from abroad like Arabic, Dutch and Chinese. The Indonesian language is legally accepted as national language in 1928 as Indonesian youth acclaimed it on the national gathering.

Since proclaimed the independence day on 1945, Indonesian language started to leave all Dutch influences and publish some new rules in term of writing. In 1947 the government changed the spell of some alphabetical writings influenced by Dutch languge into new rules and 1972, there were also legitimated for another reformation.

It is known as “Ejaan Yang Disempurnakan” /EYD (The enhanced Indonesian Spelling System). Despite there is new rules of spelling, we still find the old spelling used in some names or even cities. Thus, let’s learn better about Indonesian phonetic transcription.

Indonesian alphabet is written in Latin also influenced by Dutch and the spelling is phonetically exact as they sound, so it is easier for people using Latin alphabet on their language to understand.

Indonesian alphabet

A a  B b  C c  D d  E e  F f  G g  H h  I i  J j  K k  L l  M m

a      be    ce   de     e     ef    ge     ha   i     je   ka    el   em

N n  O o  P p  Q q  R r  S s  T t  U u  V v  W w  X x  Y y  Z z

en     o     Pe    ki     er   es     te   u      fe     we    eks   ye   zet

To understand it better, you could check it out:

There are only 19 native consonants and six vowels in Indonesian language as shown below:

Indonesian Vowels

There are six vowels in Indonesian language, however there are two other vowels categorized as the open-mid vowels, they are /ɛ/ and /ɔ/.

To understand it better, you could check it out: Indonesian Vowel Chart

Indonesian Diphthongs

It is said that Indonesian has three native diphthongs phonemes only in open syllables, they are:

  • /ai̯/: santai (‘relax’), pantai (‘beach’)
  • /au̯/: pukau (‘fascinating’), kemarau (‘dry season’)
  • /oi̯/ (or /ʊi̯/ in Indonesian): dodoiamboi

Others assume that these “diphthongs” are actually a monophthong followed by an approximant, so /ai/ represents /aj/, /au/ represents /aw/, and /oi/represents /oj/.

Diphthongs are distinguished from two vowels in two syllables, such as:

  • /a.ʔi/: e.g. rayakan (‘celebrate’) [ra.ʔi], air(‘water’) [a.ʔer] (or [a.ʔɪr] in Indonesia and [a.ʔir] elsewhere)
  • /a.ʔu/: bau (‘smell’) [ba.ʔu], laut (‘sea’) [la.ʔot] (or [la.ʔʊt] in Indonesia and [la.ʔut]elsewhere)

To understand it better, you could check it out: Indonesian Diphthongs

Consonants in Bahasa Indonesia 

The Non-native consonants that only occur in borrowed words, principally from Arabic and English, are shown in parentheses. Some analyses list 19 “primary consonants” for Indonesian as the 18 symbols that are not in parentheses in the table as well as the glottal stop.

To understand it better, you could check it out: Indonesian Pronunciation of Basic Words

To become good at Indonesian Phonetic subject, I suggest to have listening lesson. Even it is easy to pronounce and spell the letters but you will find some words difficult to follow and to keep you practice speaking Indonesian language, you better communicate directly with local people. Don’t worry to remember how to pronounce because sometimes it will be easier to say it in a sentence. That’s all the complete theory about Indonesian phonetic transcription. Selamat Belajar. Happy Learning!

Indonesian Phonetic Transcription – Learn it in this song!