LEARN INDONESIAN PRONUNCIATION

To learn Indonesian pronunciation is fairly easy, as it is a phonetic language, with each single letter representing one sound. With a couple of exceptions the sounds are the same every time and require equal emphasis. Generally, the second-to-last syllable in a word is stressed, and in sentences, stress is on the most important word.

Vowels

a like the ‘u’ in ’hut’ or ‘up’

apa kabar?
’apa ka-barrr?’
how are you?

e a short sound, like the ‘e’ in ‘earn’, when it is unstressed, in which case it is hardly pronounced at all, or like the ‘e’ in ‘café’ when it is stressed. A stressede at the end of a word is a little longer, but the stress can also fall on other syllables.

meja
’may-ja’
table

i like the ‘i’ in ‘unique’. The length of the sound doesn’t alter

selamat tidur
‘sla-mat tee-durrr’
good night

o similar to the ‘o’ sound in either ‘hot’ or ‘cold’

orang
‘o-rang’
person

u is in the ‘oo’ in ‘too’, only shorter

dua
‘doo-a’
two

Diphthongs

There are also three vowel combinations; al, au and ua. The first two sounds are true diphthongs; the ua is a combination of sounds

al sounds like ‘i’ in ‘like’

kabar baik
‘ka-bar baii’
fine thanks

au sounds like a drawn out ‘ow’ like ‘cow’

mau
‘as in Chairman ‘Mao’
want

ua begins with the sound of ‘oo as in ‘too’ and ends with the ‘ah’ sound in’hut’, with a glide, like a slight ‘w’ sound

uang
‘oo-ang’
money

Consonants

The pronunciation of consonants is very straightforward. Each is pronounced consistently, and most sound like English

b as in the ‘b’ in ‘better’ at the beginning or middle of a word and as in the ‘b’ in ‘rub’ (almost a ‘p’ sound) at the end of a word

bagi
‘ba-gee’
for

p as in the ‘p’ in ‘lip’

putih
‘pu-tea’
white

c ‘ch’ as in ‘cheese’

cabe
‘cha-be’
chilli

g always pronounced hard, as in the ‘g’ in ‘garden’

gigi
‘gig-ee’
teeth

ng always prounced as the ‘ng’ in ‘sing’

sayang
‘say-ang’
love

j pronounced as ‘dj’. It’s the sound you hear at the beginning of ‘join’

tujuh
‘tud-juh’
seven

r pronounced very clearly and distinctly. It is always slightly trilled

tidur
‘ti-durrr’
sleep

h is always pronounced. It is stressed a little more strongly than in English.

mahal
‘mah-hal’
expensive

k pronounced the same as the English ‘k’, unless it appears at the end of a word, when you should soften it, stopping just short of actually saying the ’k’

tidak
‘ti-daa’
no


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