Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Fira: Halo! Nama saya Fira.
Gina: And I’m Gina! Welcome back to IndonesianPod101.com! This is Pronunciation Lesson 5, Common Indonesian Pronunciation Mistakes. In this lesson, we’ll be going over the top five pronunciation mistakes in Indonesian.

Lesson focus

Fira: Yes, and it’s important that you, our listeners, are familiar with them, so that you can minimize them when you speak.
Gina: Definitely! What’s our first one?
Fira: Tip number one is remember to trill your "-R's!"
Gina: Remember that in Indonesian, the letter "-R" is not pronounced the same way as in English.
Fira: Yeah, that’s right – you don’t want to end up sticking out like a sore thumb.
Gina: And one of the ways that people can detect a foreign accent over the phone, is by the way you pronounce this particular sound.
Fira: For example, if you want some rice, you ask for "beras." "Beras." With a trilled "-r." If you ask for "brass" with an English-like "-r," who knows what you’ll get?
Gina: (Laughter) Ok, so what’s our next pronunciation tip? 
Fira: Tip number 2 is - don’t aspirate!
Gina: Right – in the first lesson of this pronunciation series, we said that the letters "-c," "-k," "-p," and "-t" were pronounced slightly differently to their corresponding sounds in English. And this is because of aspiration. When you read these characters in Indonesian, we recommend you grab a piece a paper, and hold it loosely about four inches from your mouth.
Fira: Then, you should get a list of things to read that has plenty of "-k's," "-p's," "-t's," and "-c's."
Gina: Yes and you can see the breath moving the piece of paper! That’s a good tip! So what’s the next one?
Fira: Tip number 3 - Don’t forget your glottal stop!
Gina: There are two cases where you need to make a glottal stop in Indonesian.
Fira: The first one is when you have a "-k" at the end of the word. For example, the word "anak" which means [child]. [A-nak]. "Anak." You can hear the glottal stop at the end.
Gina: And the second case is...?
Fira: Wherever you have two identical vowels right next to each other, you have to make a glottal stop.
Gina: Can you give us an example?
Fira: For example, the word "saat," which means "moment." [Sa-at]. "Saat." It has the glottal stop. Another good one is the word for "sorry" (ma-af.) "Maaf." [Ma-af]. "Maaf."
Gina: Okay, what’s the next tip?
Fira: Tip number 4 - learn to be comfortable with your velar nasal consonant now!
Gina: Remember that Indonesian has many sounds that are similar to English, so there aren’t too many challenging sounds – except for one – the velar nasal spelled "-n-g.”
Fira: Don’t you have this in English, though? Like in the word "sing?"
Gina: Yes, we do – but notice that "-ng" is always in the middle or at the end of words in English. It’s never at the beginning of the word. In Indonesian, there are a number of words that have this particular sound at the beginning!
Fira: Yeah, for example, the informal way of saying "understand" is "ngerti." [Nger-ti]. "Ngerti." It’s not an "-n." sound. And it’s not an "-n" plus "-g" sound – it’s the sound at the end of "sing" put at the beginning.
Gina: Can you give us another example?
Fira: The informal way to say "to send" is "ngirim." "Ngi-rim." "Ngirim."
Gina: You might notice the consonant at the beginning of the word. Listen carefully listeners, because I’m about to give you a pronunciation tip that is sure to help you! Imagine the word "sing" – and immediately lop off the "-s" and "-i", so that you get the final consonant in isolation – "-ng." What’s next, fira?
Fira: At that point, once you feel comfortable, you can put various vowels after the "-ng". And then practice pronouncing those syllables, like /ng-a/, /ng-i/, /ng-u/, /ng-e, /ng-o/, and so on.
Gina: That’s a pretty good strategy, Fira!
Fira: If you keep at this, velar nasals won’t scare you anymore!
Gina: Okay, now what’s the last tip we have for everyone?
Fira: Tip number 5 -watch out for similar-sounding words!
Gina: This could happen in any language, but Indonesian has a smaller number of sounds than English, let’s say. This means that there are many words that sound really similar - and the difference is only one syllable, or something like that. And when you’re starting out and still have a small vocabulary, it becomes even easier to mix words up. What are some more infamous examples?
Fira: One example is "pak" and "bak."
Gina: They sound really similar…so what do they mean?
Fira: "Pak" with a "-p" means "father" – what you would call most middle-aged men or fathers. Sort of like "mister," but much more personal. "Bak" with a "-b" means a "water basin."
Gina: Yeah! You have to be careful with this one. You wouldn’t want to try and call a nice gentleman a water basin!
Fira: (laughs) Yeah, that would be very awkward!
Gina: How about another example?
Fira: Here’s a triple bonanza! "Boleh," "bola," and "bule!"
Gina: Wow, what do those mean?
Fira: "Boleh" means "may," or "go ahead," as we learned in an earlier lesson. "Bola" means "ball." Now, the third word is one you want to be a little careful about, because some people could be offended by it. But it's important to know because you may hear it in Indonesia. It’s "Bule," a casual slang term for a "white person" that is often used to describe foreigners in general.
Gina: So be careful not to get those mixed up! All right, well those are our top 5 tips for avoiding pronunciation mistakes in Indonesian!
Fira: Remember to keep practicing, listeners!
Gina: We can’t stress this enough. Listening and repeating is the quickest way to get these sounds down.


Gina: Alright listeners, that’s all for this lesson, and for this series.
Fira: As always, to see more explanations and examples from this lesson, please check out the lesson notes!
Gina: We hope you enjoyed this series and found it useful, and we’ll see you in another series. Thanks for listening, bye!
Fira: Sampai jumpa.