Understand The Communication System in Indonesia

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Beside Indonesian Grammar Rules, Bahasa Indonesia is complex as well as unique language. These happened because of the society of the speakers. Therefore, there are differences in Indonesian to English Grammar as well as how they talk to one and another. Now, let’s learn about Communication System in Indonesia! Here are the common rules!

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1. Know the interlocutor

First thing that very essential in communication is know who you speak with. Even though there is no level such as in Javanese or Korean, the choice of words determine how we see other people. Therefore, Indonesia has many different Indonesian Pronouns.

For example, if you talk to older people (your teacher or your boss) in formal situation, you will use ‘saya’ to refer ‘I’ and the people title such as ‘Bapak (Sir)’ or ‘Ibu (Madam)’ to refer ‘you’. Here are the examples.

  • Saya ingin bertemu Bapak (I want to meet you, Sir) — student to teacher

However, if you are closer to them or placed in the informal situation, you might use ‘aku’ as ‘I’ to give more personal sense. However, you could not replace ‘Bapak/Ibu’ to refer ‘you’ with other similar pronoun. On the other hand, you would not be recommended to use ‘saya’ with your peers, because it has stiff sense and considered to formal to your peers. Usually people choose to use ‘aku’ or others local pronouns of it.

Furthermore, when Indonesian people talk about their parents, they would never only call them by their name. They will always use ‘father/mother’ to refer their parents. In addition, like to other people they will not use pronouns to refer ‘you’, instead, they will choose the word ‘dad/mom’.

However, unlike when you talk to your teacher, most children usually use ‘aku’ to refer ‘I’ with their parents.

It gives more personal sense.

  • Aku mau pergi dulu ya, Ma (Mom, I want to go) — a child to his/her mother
  • Ibu aku sedang di rumah (My mom is in the house) — a kid to his/her friend

Notes: because Bahasa Indonesia has many influence from other languages, there are many ways to call your mom/dad. In example : bapak/ibu, ayah/bunda, papa/mama, papi/mami and many more.

In addition, you could not refer older people/people you respect with he/she. It is considered rude or you have problem with them. Instead, most people use ‘beliau’, their title + name, or for example ‘mom/dad’. Here are the examples.

  • Pak Eko mengabari bahwa beliau tidak masuk hari ini (Pak Eko told me that he would not come today)
  • Ayah pergi ke rumah Bu Ina. Kamu tahu siapa Bu Ina?  (Dad went to Bu Ina’s house. Do you knoe who is she?)

2. Know the context

This might be the trickiest part. As you know every sentence or even words would have different meaning in different context. Understand the context might help you in the communication, understand the meaning that thought by your friends. Therefore, you need to have same understanding as well as knowledge with people who you talk with. Here are the examples of how context could change a single sentence meaning.

  • Saya lapar! (I am hungry!)

Saya lapar has literal meaning as ‘I am hungry’ or a person told his/her friend that he/she is hungry. However, if you are more sensitive, it could means ‘I want to eat so let’s go eat something’ or ‘I want to you buy me something because I am hungry and have no money’, or even ‘let’s finish our meeting because I’m hungry’ or even it is only an excuse to leave the meeting. Now, can you understand communication system in Indonesia?

Furthermore, because Indonesia consists many local society with their own culture, you need to pay attention with your place. For example, in Javanese the word ‘matamu’ (your eyes) is considered as insult phrase. Therefore, use it wisely. In addition, in Javanese there are some kind of 3 stages of language (something like ‘harsh’, ‘polite’, ‘very polite’). Do not use the ‘harsh’ or ‘ngoko’ one when you talk to other people because it is considered rude. Instead, use the ‘polite’ or ‘kromo’ one or just use Bahasa Indonesia if you are not master Javanese.

Check also : Indonesian Bad Words, Balinese Swear Words, and Indonesian Insult Phrases

3. Written form and Oral form

The other important things of Indonesian Communication System is there are huge differences between the written and oral one, even the formal language. In written form, the grammar is very strict, punctuation is very critical. Here are the examples.

  • Sementara itu, budaya Indonesia dapat dikatakan sangat beragam (On the other hands, Indonesian culture is really diverse)
  • Sedangkan, budaya Indonesia dapat dikatakan sangat beragam (On the other hands, Indonesian culture is really diverse) – grammatically incorrect

You could not use ‘sedangkan’ as inter-sentence conjunction in written language, but you could possibly use it in formal oral conversation (speech, meeting etc). You could replace it with ‘sementara itu’. There are many specific formal rules similar to this situation.

However, even the native speaker struggle to use this Bahasa Indonesia yang baik dan benar (Good and right Bahasa Indonesia) because we do not use it in daily conversation. Therefore, formal and standard written form of Bahasa Indonesia is the hardest part of learning Bahasa Indonesia. On the other hands, it is only use in formal situation such as, academics or formal letter.

Okay, those are some of most important Communication System in Indonesia. Know your interlocutor, context and situation and use your Bahasa Indonesia skill based on it. Good luck! Check also these useful articles