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Lesson Transcript

Fira: Halo! Nama saya Fira.
Gina: And I’m Gina. Welcome to IndonesianPod101.com! This is Pronunciation, Lesson 1 - The Pronunciation of Consonants in Indonesian. In this series, we’re going to start with the basics of Indonesian pronunciation and slowly work our way up!

Lesson focus

Fira: That’s right, first we’ll talk about what Indonesian sounds are made up of.
Gina: Now, Indonesian doesn’t have that many sounds to begin with, compared to other languages. There are only 19 native consonants and 6 vowels, right?
Fira: That’s right, and Indonesian is made up of syllables.
Gina: There are 4 types of syllables, and they each require at least one vowel. The 1st type of syllable consists of a consonant, followed by a vowel. Can we hear an example word with this type of syllable?
Fira: For example…"toke." It means "gecko lizard."
Gina: So, there are two syllables in this word.
Fira: Right. /To/ and /ke/. Each one is made up of a consonant and a vowel.
Gina: The 2nd kind of syllable consists of a consonant, a vowel, and then a final consonant. Can we hear an example with this type of syllable?
Fira: Sure. "Habis." It means "finished."
Gina: So this one is made up of two syllables as well, but this time, we have a consonant-vowel syllable
Fira: /ha/ - and it’s followed by a consonant-vowel-consonant syllable /bis/.
Gina: The 3rd kind only contains a vowel. Fira, can we have an example with this type?
Fira: Here’s a good one. "Anak." It means "child." In this word, we have the vowel "-a." It’s followed by a consonant-vowel-consonant syllable /nak/.
Gina: Finally, the 4th kind is the vowel plus consonant syllable. Can we hear an example of that?
Fira: Sure. We have "anjing," which means "dog." Here, the first syllable /an/ has a vowel, "-a," and a consonant, "-n." The second syllable is yet another consonant-vowel-consonant syllable, with the consonant "-j," the vowel "-i," and the sound written as two letters, "-ng" [ng].
Gina: This may be written with two letters, but this is a single sound, as we’ll explain later. Okay, now let’s start to look at the individual consonants and how to produce them! And remember, we’re only going over the native consonants right now. We’ll go over sounds that originally came from foreign sources in a later lesson. Okay, Fira, what’s the first one?
Fira: First, we have "-B," which is pronounced much like the "-B" in English. [B]. Imagine the sound B in the word “bay”. The Indonesian “bay” sounds very similar to this.
Gina: What’s next?
Fira: Next we have "-C," like the "-ch" sound like in "cello." Be careful not the confuse this -C with the "-k" sound in "cookie," or the "-s" sound in "circle."
Gina: That’s right – so it’s like "cello." That’s a good one to remember.
Fira: Also, I should point out that sounds like "-C" do not have aspiration in Indonesian.
Gina: Aspiration is a term in linguistics used to describe the puff of air native English speakers have after certain sounds like [ch]. Can you hear the breath? [ch]
Fira: That’s right.
Gina: English has aspiration after certain consonants. Try saying the word "check" aloud. "CHECK." Notice how a puff of air is released after the /ch/? You can try holding a piece of paper loosely in front of your face and say "check." Notice that the paper moves when you pronounce [ch] – this is because of the aspiration or your breath. But in Indonesian, that’s different right?
Fira: That’s right. Indonesian consonants have no aspiration.
Gina: Aspirating consonants like we have in English will sound unnatural when speaking Indonesian, so try not to aspirate or release air after sounds, if you can! It may not always come naturally, but thinking about it will help you get closer to the pronunciation.
Fira: I think that’s a good tip.
Gina: Okay, let’s talk about some more consonants.
Fira: The pronunciation of most Indonesian consonants is the same as consonants in English. For example, D sounds like English D. Think of the word “day” and you’ll get the “D” right.
Gina: But there are some that sound different, right?
Fira: That’s right. we have "-G," which is only pronounced like the hard "-g" in "go" or "golf."
Gina: It is never the "-j" sound like in the word "gelatin." What else is there?
Fira: We have "-R," which is trilled, much like the "-RR" in Spanish.
Gina: If you haven’t tried to trill your "-r's" before, you should make an attempt to do it for Indonesian – it should not sound like the English "-R" at all!
Fira: Try it! [demonstrate trilled RRRR]
Gina: Okay, now let’s move to the consonant combinations. What are they, Fira?
Fira: In Indonesian, you can find two consonants that make one sound. Let’s take a look at them one by one.
Gina: First, Indonesian has something called the "velar nasal." Don’t worry about the linguistic term, but they all fall under this category. It’s like pronouncing [n] for [november] or [m] for [mother] right around the area in the mouth where you pronounce [k] and [g].
Fira: In Indonesian, this is spelled "-ng" and pronounced [ng]. Just like the "-ng" sound at the end of the word "sing."
Gina: Next we have a "palatal nasal." Again, don’t be scared by the term! This is like pronouncing [n] for november and [m] for [mother] or [ng], but this time, the middle part of the tongue touches the central part of your hard palate, which is basically the roof of your mouth! It is called a “palatal nasal” because it’s a nasal sound. Keep practicing. Let’s try it again! [ng]
Fira: [ng] And the sound it makes is pronounced much like [enye] in Spanish or EspaNYa! In Indonesian, this is spelled "-ny." *.
Gina: Do you have an example word that has this consonant?
Fira: Yes. "Nyanyi." [Nya-nyi]. This means "to sing." Do you feel the middle of your tongue touching the roof of your mouth? This is what you should get. Try it - "Nyanyi."
Gina: Now listeners, make sure to check the lesson notes to reinforce what you’ve learned in this lesson.


Fira: Well, that’s all for this lesson.
Gina: Thanks for listening, everyone, and we’ll see you next time.
Fira: Sampai jumpa!