Some people say the Indonesian language is easy to learn, yet hard to master. There’s some truth to that, but it doesn’t take lessen the fact that many considered it an easy language to learn.
Some might argue that no language is easier or harder than others. Whether a language is easy to learn or not actually depends on your mother tongue. You’ll more likely find a language easy to learn if it has the same origin as your native language. For instance, Germans will find Dutch easier to learn, French will find Spanish similar to their language, and so on.
Now let’s look at the facts. Based on the list of the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), it will approximately take 36 weeks for English learners to learn Indonesian as it has linguistic and/or cultural differences from English.
However, what makes some people say Indonesian is easy to learn is because it doesn’t have complex logograms like the Chinese language, nor does it have specific tenses like in English. You probably have heard stories of foreigners being able to have basic conversations with the locals after living there for only a month or so.
There are some reasons why it’s easy to get to the basics of the Indonesian language. Here’s why:
No New Alphabets
Indonesian doesn’t have specific scripts like Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Thailand, or Russian. It has the same alphabet system based on the Latin script. It’s also a phonetic language. That means that the words are spelled as they sound, so you won’t find words like “though” and “tough” in Bahasa Indonesia.
Not a Tonal Language
Unlike the Chinese language, Bahasa Indonesia is not a tonal language. Words with different tones might have different connotations but they don’t have different meanings. Bahasa Indonesia is a pretty straightforward language so it is quite easy to understand.
The Indonesian language has a lot of related languages, such as Malaysia, Dutch, Arabic, Sanskrit, and English. For example, reaction in Indonesian is reaksi, click – klik, issue – isu. So if you already speak some of these languages, it will be easier for you to remember some of the words.
Bahasa Indonesia word order is almost the same as in English. Here’s the Indonesian language simple sentence structure:
Subject + Predicate* + Object + adverb
*Predicate is the equivalent of verbs
I read books every day
Saya membaca buku setiap hari
Based on the structure, Indonesian language pretty much has the same word order compared to English.
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No Verb Tenses
That means that verbs don’t change form based on the tenses. They use extra words instead to show when an activity takes place. For example:
I am eating = Saya sedang makan.
I will eat at 1 pm = Saya akan makan jam 1 siang.
I have already eaten my lunch = Saya sudah makan siang.
Affixes are Everything
The language will be much easier to understand if you have learned about affixes. An additional prefixes or suffixes can change a word’s meaning. Here are some examples:
The basic word: lihat – see (verb)
Me- is used in an active voice
Melihat = to see
Di- is used in passive voice
Dilihat = to be seen
Ter- resulting in a verb that is done unintentionally or accidentally
Terlihat = to be seen accidentally/unexpectedly
Grammatical Error is Not a Crime
Bahasa Indonesia has no complex grammatical rules. As mentioned above, it doesn’t have verb tenses. It also doesn’t have verb conjugations, no complex plural forms, and no genders. The equivalent of him/her is just one word – “dia”. To change a singular word to plural, you just need to repeat the words or add an extra word. For example:
English: child / children
Indonesian: anak / anak-anak
English: person / people
Indonesian: orang / banyak orang; orang-orang
Even when you don’t follow its grammatical rules, you can still express your thoughts as long as the keywords are there. Buying foods, asking for directions, or even just say hi to the locals will be easy because the locals will still understand you even when you make mistakes.
To sum up, is Bahasa Indonesia a difficult language? Not necessarily. So if you’re looking for an easy language to learn, it can be your choice. You can learn and brush up your Indonesian language skills at Cakap’s Indonesian Course. So next time you land your feet on the beautiful archipelago, you won’t need a dictionary. Start now!