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Lesson Transcript

Fira: Hi everyone. I’m Fira.
Gina: And I’m Gina. Hello and welcome to IndonesianPod101.com. This is All About Lesson 1, Introduction to Indonesia and the Indonesian Language.
Fira: Together, we'll be your guides to everything Indonesian.
Gina: That's right! In this series, we’re here to teach you the ins-and-outs of the fascinating Indonesian language.
Fira: Indonesian is a really interesting language in a lot of ways.
Gina: Yeah, I think the listeners out there who have studied a western or East Asian language, and are studying a language like Indonesian for the first time, will be amazed at just how different it is.
Fira: It’s truly a beautiful language. In this lesson, let’s learn some basic facts about the Indonesian language.

Lesson focus

Gina: So what language family does Indonesian belong to?
Fira: Well, it’s an Austronesian language. Do you know what that means?
Gina: Sure. Austronesian languages are a family of languages spoken in the Malay Peninsula, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Madagascar, and Oceania.
Fira: Right! It makes up one of the largest language families in the world today as there are over twelve hundred languages which are a part of this family. Indonesian is closely related to its geographical neighbors, which include Javanese, Sundanese, and Balinese.
Gina: It’s also related to virtually all of the languages of the Philippines, including Tagalog, as well as being distant linguistic "cousins" to Polynesian languages such as Samoan, Tongan, and Hawaiian!
Fira: It branches out so far across the globe! All the way in Africa, the Austronesian language spoken on the island of Madagascar is called "Malagasy". By the way, did you know that today there are around two hundred million speakers of Indonesian?
Gina: Right! It’s such a big number! But only seventeen million are native speakers, so that means that there are 183 million speakers who have learned Indonesian as a second language. That’s still amazing, wouldn’t you say?
Fira: Yeah, and I think our listeners will find Indonesian quite easy to follow since it’s written in Roman script.
Gina: Yes, but the spelling might throw some people off at first.
Fira: Good point. The Indonesian spelling system went through four different systems before taking its present form.
Gina: And I thought English spelling was hard enough! Imagine having to change spelling four different times.
Fira: Don’t worry, though. The spelling is much more phonetic than in English.
Gina: Well, that’s a relief. We’ll talk about that in another lesson.
Fira: Right, but now let’s talk about pronunciation. Indonesian vowels are really simple! As opposed to English, vowels only have one pronunciation, except with the letter "e", which we’ll get to later.
Gina: Yes. We actually have a series for Indonesian pronunciation where you’ll learn more about this.
[About the Motherland]
Gina: So, how about going over a bit more of Indonesia itself? Indonesia and the Indonesian language have long and complex histories behind them.
Fira: That’s true. Indonesia is one of the most culturally diverse places in the world. There are over three hundred and fifty different ethnic groups, each with its own culture and language, spread out over Indonesia’s seventeen thousand plus islands. That’s a lot of different groups, and a lot of land and water!
Gina: Yeah. The philosophy of "unity through diversity" is really important to Indonesian people. What’s that famous saying, Fira?
Fira That would be Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, which means "There are many, but there is one." This is our national motto.
Gina: What does the name “Indonesia” mean?
Fira: From Greek, "Indo-" means "India" and "-nesia" means "islands", which reflects the centuries of history with Indian traders in this area.
Gina: Right, but isn’t there another name for Indonesia?
Fira: Are you thinking of Nusantara?
Gina: Yeah, that’s the one!
Fira: Nusantara, meaning “archipelago”, is actually a very poetic way of referring to the country. Most people just say “Indonesia”.
Gina: I see. That makes sense since Nusantara comes from Old Javanese. Ok! Let’s talk about why we should learn Indonesian, Fira.
Fira: Sure, I have five reasons. Let’s start from number five; You can communicate with Indonesian people and Indonesian speakers.
Gina: Right. Whether it’s with Indonesian friends, family members, or people you meet when traveling, Indonesian has over two hundred million speakers. That’s a lot of people to converse with!
Fira: And, as we mentioned before, a lot of land in which to converse!
Number four; Indonesian pronunciation is easy! It’s pronounced just the way it looks, so you can start speaking and reading right away.
Gina: Yeah! No more frustrating study sessions with pronunciation guides and audio CDs trying to figure it out!
Number three; Learn culture and history. Indonesia is known for its rich and wide variety of cultural activities, such as gamelan music ensembles, wayang kulit shadow plays, and colorful batik cloth.
Fira: Learning Indonesian will give you great insight into the world of Indonesian culture and history, which will help you better understand the structure of the language and the way of the people, as well.
Gina: Number two; Help keep a language alive. It’s important to realize the significance of learning any language. Aside from increasing communication skills, we preserve and understand culture and history which is essential to understanding our world and, ultimately, ourselves.
Fira: Exactly! And finally...
Gina: The number one reason you should learn Indonesian is…
[drum roll sound effect]
Fira: It’s fun! Traveling to and within Indonesia and communicating with the people is truly a life-changing experience. Indonesia has cultural diversity, a rich and complex history, and vibrant natural beauty to boot. It truly is one of the cultural and natural treasures of the world that everyone should experience at some point in his or her life.
Gina: Listeners, we’ve only just begun talking about Indonesian! We think that you’ll be more amazed with each lesson!
Fira: That’s right. By learning about the Indonesian language, culture, and history, you’ll feel like you’re in a magical place where past meets present.


Gina: Okay everybody. That’s it for this lesson.
Fira: See you next time.
Gina: Bye.