Oddities & Peculiarities

Dec 29th, 2007, in Society, by

Odd, peculiar things about language in Indonesia, and more.

Passing Thoughts

As I was thinking…..


There are English words that are accepted in Bahasa Indonesia. A few examples:

confrontation = konfrontasi

globalization = globalisasi

infection = infeksi

Don’t take this seriously but wouldn’t it be :

nasi for nation
(nasi in Bahasa Indonesia is cooked rice)

basi for bastion
(basi in Bahasa Indonesia is: spoil, stale, trite, not funny, stale)

T.V. Language

While watching programs on RCTI and SCTV networks, I noticed that the dialogue in Bahasa Indonesia programs liberally use the words “gue” and “gua”. I was told that these two words are Javanese.

Now, it has gone further. These TV programs have started to intersperse short English phrases and words, “you” and “I” in their Bahasa Indonesia dialogues. Would that encourage Indonesians to take an interest to learn English?

When Everything Is Called Indonesian


Question put to a tourist: Have you eaten Indonesian?
Answer from tourist: Yes, I have but I avoid the food that is chilly hot.

Question to a Korowai warrior: Have you eaten Indonesian?
Answer from the warrior: A few times but that was long ago. Mostly men.

Indonesian Currency

The Rupiah notes for 100,000 and 10,000 are coloured with a different hue of red. Apparently, the decision makers did not give it much thought.

Two nights ago, I paid 201,000 Rupiahs for a dinner that cost 21,000. In the dimly lit shop, it was difficult to differentiate the colours between these two denominations. Fortunately, the food seller was honest and returned the money.

Transport Price Comparison

I pay an “ojek” 5,000 Rupiahs for a transport whereas if I travelled the same distance by public transport van, it would cost me 2,500 Rupiahs. Fair enough that the van carries more passengers and therefore the fare is cheaper. But the vans are so many and most of the times they are not transporting with a full capacity.

Traffic Rules

Zebra crossing bears no meaning to motorists at either direction. They might as well do away with zebra crossing for pedestrians.

At traffic lights junctions, when red is displayed, it is ignored when the motorist makes a left turn.

At a round-a-bout junction, the motorist would make an anti clockwise movement when there is no vehicle in sight. Example, at a 6 o’clock position, the motorist would turn right and head for the 3 o’clock road instead of making a left turn, follow the road past 9 and 12 o’clock roads before making his exit from the 3 o’clock road.

Has Indonesia Gone Metric?

I read that Indonesia converted to the metric system at some time during the 1940’s.

Over at the my Indonesian house, I brought PVC elbow joints and PVC connectors from my homeland to do some plumbing improvements. These items are in metric measurements.They did not fit the pipes in Indonesia because those were in the Imperial measurement.

At the hardware shop, it was the same – Imperial measurements. Apparently, the Indonesian manufacturers have not retooled to metric.

Places are still referred to as Batu Lima and not in kilometers.

Price Increases

On my return trip, my travel agent informed me that from January 1st., the price for a single trip would be increased by 12.5 percent. Over the past 7 years the passage fare has been increased by 37 percent!

With the present price, for the one-way ferry fare to Indonesia, I could travel one-way by Air Asia to Bangkok. And that is four times the distance compared to the travel that I make to reach Indonesia.

13 Comments on “Oddities & Peculiarities”

  1. Teng says:

    confrontation = konfrontasi

    globalization = globalisasi

    infection = infeksi

    They are actually from the dutch words: Confrontatie, globalisatie and infectie

  2. Dragonwall says:

    So that means Indonesian language is actually Dutch like handook as to handuk? Or Filipino payung is to umbrella and susi as to keys?

  3. dewaratugedeanom says:

    At traffic lights junctions, when red is displayed, it is ignored when the motorist makes a left turn.

    That is because there is a written sign underneath : ‘belok kiri jalan terus’
    meaning that you can always turn left, also when it’s red.
    However be careful if you don’t look like an Indonesian. Policemen might suppose you don’t understand and try to fine you anyway.

  4. Teng says:

    So that means Indonesian language is actually Dutch like handook as to handuk?

    I wouldn’t go that far 😉

    But its true there are many Dutch words in Indonesian language:

    Handuk, spanduk, asbak, knalpot, rem, bekleding, wastafel, kantor, verboden and many more.

    The Dutch language has also adopted Indonesian words though: Klamboe, pisang, toko, pienter (from pinter) branie (from berani), senang. Too bad some of these words aren’t used as often as they used to be, however you can still find them in the Dutch dictionary

  5. Aluang Anak Bayang says:

    We export the word ‘amok’.

    Amok – A male who has shown no previous sign of anger or any inclination to violence will acquire a weapon and, in a sudden frenzy, will attempt to kill or seriously injure anyone he encounters. Amok episodes of this kind normally end with the attacker being killed by bystanders, or committing suicide.

  6. cheerstospears says:

    Bahasa Indonesia is similar to Rujak. Various fruits mashed together to release the juice. Add local flavor (chilli, salt, and tamarind) and you’ll end up with a plate of hyper flavor.

    Garfo (garpu) from Portugues, Trotoir (trotoar) French then snagged by Dutch, Bandera (Bendera) Spanish/Portuguese. In fact 9 out 10 ten Indonesian words were adopted from foreign languages.

  7. tomaculum says:

    Bahasa Indonesia is even a “living” and “learning” language like many of languages spoken in this world (I don’t know the situation in the ghost or alien worlds …. 🙂 ).
    There were and there will be exchanges between them.
    Or how would you translate follw. words:
    “democracy” = “kekuasaan rakyat”
    “computer” = “mesin untuk menghitung”
    “rap” = “nyanyi cepet” (rap is an abbreviation of “rapid” = fast)
    “ball point” =”alat tulis titik bola”
    “libero” (dalam sepak bola) = “pemain bebas”
    “antibiotikum” = “obat untuk melawan hidup”

    Some other in Bhs. Indonesia adapted words: bangku, dosa, Allah, botol, bangkrut, sirup, istri, agama, tahu, bola, pinsil, potlot, gitar, buku, kitab, nafsu, syahwat, sop, etc, etc and “korupsi” 🙂 🙂 .

    Do you know that kroncong isn’t a original indonesian music?

  8. iamisaid says:

    Do you know that kroncong isn’t a original indonesian music?

    Hi tomaculum,

    Interesting and it set me look up for more information.

    For whatever it is worth, here is what I gathered.

    Keroncong, a seductive music for fiddle, guitar, ukulele, flute, banjo, bass and cello, owes its origin to the Portuguese who dominated parts of the archipelago from 1512 to 1596. The early Portuguese sailors, who discovered the sea route to the Moluccas, brought their musical instruments and melodies to Indonesia. A small guitar with five strings called the pandeiro became known as keroncong (from its sound “crong”) in Batavia, and much later as the ukulele in Hawaii. The Portuguese introduced three types of music; moresco, prounga and cafrino. Moresco songs are cheerful and developed into keroncong music.

    These formed the first generation of the Toegoe community, members of which spoke Portuguese cristao and inherited Moresco, a type of Portuguese dance music of Moorish origins that entered then Lusitania (former name of Portugal) in the 8th century.

    According to Haryadi Suadi, keroncong music evolved in three distinct stages over 400 years. During the third period, after 1870, moresco melodies became keroncong songs with an even stronger local accent, and turned into urban music.

    Although the instruments and the singing style are clearly descended from European origins, the chord progression takes the Western ear by surprise and provides an unsettling, ethereal flavor to the songs. The langgam jawa, a regional variant, has a more pronounced local character with its use of Javanese gamelan scales. The development and adaptation of keroncong to local culture in the last century, made Indonesia rightfully claim keroncong music as an important element on the Indonesian music scene.

    Mr. Andjar Any, the president of Hamkri (Association of Indonesia Kroncong Artists) Solo branch, categorically says that Kroncong music is purely Indonesian. The 61 year-old artist, a journalist strongly supports his theory. In his profession he has traveled around the world and he did not found any music similar to Kroncong even in Portugal or its ex colony. It is a probability, that our people saw the European played their music with western music instruments hundreds years ago in the old days, the Kroncong had its root in Jakarta with its Kroncong Tugu (Tugu is a village in the coast of Jakarta) & Central Java.

    Since there is a general agreement that Indonesian keroncong music is based on Moresco songs, I went on to find out more about “moresco” and came up with these.

    moresco – a Moorish dance or morris-dance
    morris – a vigorous English dance performed by costumed men

    some dispute the origin of the term “morris”, the most widely accepted theory is that the term was “moorish dance,”

    And not to be mistaken for Moresco which is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Ascoli Piceno in the Italian region Marche, located about 60 km southeast of Ancona and about 30 km northeast of Ascoli Piceno. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of 627 and an area of 6.3 km².

    Now, I am not certain if there is a difference between a moresco song and moresco music. Perhaps not but it would seem to point to the same thing at least by name. Besides, song and dance are like two peas in a pod.

    That being the case, then the Indonesian keroncong music which is based on Moresco songs would have its origins from the Moorish dance – Moorish music?

    But then our good pal, Mr. Andjar Any, would immediately say “RUBBISH” to any other explanation offered that contradicts his own refutation. LOL!

  9. tomaculum says:

    Who the hell is Anjar Any? 🙂
    As I know the some times capricious nationalism of some Indonesian, A. Any would even claim, that R&B or Hip-Hop is originally Indonesian music. 🙂

  10. iamisaid says:

    Who the hell is Anjar Any?

    He is the other president in Indonesia.

    LOL !

    and A Happy New Year to you, tomaculum.

  11. tomaculum says:

    Happy New Year, iamisaid.

  12. dewaratugedeanom says:

    Tomaculum said

    Do you know that kroncong isn’t a original indonesian music?

    Take it for what it’s worth but I was told that ‘keroncong’ is a mixture of Portuguese ‘Fado’ and Dutch ‘smartlap’ with Indonesian words.

Comment on “Oddities & Peculiarities”.

RSS feed

Copyright Indonesia Matters 2006-2023
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Contact