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Lesson Transcript

Fira: Hi everyone! I’m Fira.
Gina: And I’m Gina, and welcome back to IndonesianPod101.com! This is All About, Lesson 4, Indonesian Pronunciation Made Easy. In this lesson, we’ll show you how easy it is to start speaking Indonesian.
Gina: We’ll be focusing on pronunciation! Believe it or not, pronunciation is one of the easiest aspects of the Indonesian language. We’ll also give you tips on how to perfect your pronunciation.
Fira: First, we’ll cover the sounds and then we’ll talk about something called “non-aspiration”. Okay! Let’s get started!

Lesson focus

Gina: Indonesian doesn’t have that many sounds compared to other languages. It has only nineteen consonants and five different vowels, and each sound just as they look. Indonesian is made up of syllables, sections of a word which contain at least a vowel. The consonant may precede the vowel, follow the vowel, or both. But don’t worry, you only have one consonant in either position. Let’s hear some examples of Indonesian words.
Fira: Let’s take a look at vowels first. There are five vowels in Indonesian; A, E, I, O, U. We’ll start with A.
Gina: The letter A sounds like the “ah” in “father”. Fira, could you give us an example?
Fira: A-yo. This means “hey” or “come on!”
Gina: The good news is that it only has one pronunciation, so when you see the letter A, you can simply say ah in any case.
Fira: That’s right. It’s the same for other vowels too. The letter I sounds like “ee” in “sweet” or “teeth”, the letter U sounds like “oo” in “book”, and the letter O sounds like “o“ in “cold”
Gina: And how about the letter E? Does it sound like the “e“ in “elephant”?
Fira No. Actually the letter “e“ is a bit trickier because it can be pronounced in two different ways. It’s the only character which has two pronunciations in Indonesian.
Gina: And what are those two ways?
Fira: First, it sounds like “-e”.
Gina: Could you give us an example?
Fira: Sure. enak, e-n-a-k, which means “delicious!”
Gina: Ooh, I like that word.
Fira: And the other way is like “uh”. You’ll find this in words like senang, s-e-n-a-n-g, which means “happy”.
Gina: How can our listeners know when to pronounce it as e and when to pronounce it as uh?
Fira: It depends on the stress. For example, the word ‘Sore’ ,which has the alphabet ‘e’ at the end, it has the stress on the letter ‘e’, so it sounds like e; otherwise, it’s the uh sound.
Gina: That’s a pretty good strategy. And what about consonants?
Fira: Every character has only one pronunciation. For example, the letter S sounds like “s” in Indonesian too. But there are some consonants that differ from English. Let’s go over those.
Gina: First, lets check the letters P, T, and K. These characters have aspiration in English; “p”, “t”, “k”.
Fira: But in Indonesian, it doesn’t! Indonesian consonants have no aspiration. If you pronounce consonants with air like you would in English, your Indonesian will sound unnatural, so be careful!
Gina: Let’s compare the pronunciation of a word that is used in both Indonesian and English. First, the English pronunciation, “orangutan”. [oh-RANG-oo-tane]. In English, you would say “Oranutan”. But in Indonesian, it would be...
Fira: Orangutan
Gina: Can you hear the difference? The Indonesian “t“ doesn’t have that puff of air. Once more; “Oranutan”
Fira: and Orangutan.
Gina: Okay, now let’s move on to the letter “c“. How do you read it?
Fira: It sounds like the “ch“ sound in English. In Indonesian, the c-h sound will be always written as just “c“. For example, the word “chocolate” is spelled c-o-k-e-l-a-t in Indonesian. It uses only C, and not C-H.
Gina: I see. Any other tricky spelling differences our listeners should look out for?
Fira: Yes. There’s one that’s not so common. There are some words that are spelled with a “kh”. These words were borrowed from Arabic, like the word Khas, meaning “typical”.
Gina: That’s a good one to point out. And nowadays, many people just pronounce k-h as “k” in most cases.
Fira: Right, But there are some words which still have that special sound k-h as in Khawatir, meaning “worry” or “concern”, and akhir, which means “last”. But it’s not that common.


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