Featured article photo: Padar, Indonesia by Rashel Ochoa (Unsplash License)
1. Indonesian Uses the Latin Alphabet
Many Asian languages like Japanese or Mandarin Chinese use non-Latin scripts, and learners often have to start off by memorizing those characters first before learning new vocabulary and grammar.
This wouldn't be the case with Indonesian, as it uses the same 26 Latin alphabets like the ones in English.
The Latin alphabet was said to be introduced and popularized in Indonesia by the Dutch 🇳🇱, although some sources claim that it was the Portuguese 🇵🇹 who first introduced the alphabet in certain parts of Indonesia.
In any case, the fact that Indonesian uses the same writing system as English definitely puts English speakers ahead of the game when it comes to learning Indonesian. Moreover, there are no diacritics used in Indonesian either, so you do not need to download an Indonesian-specific keyboard to type in Indonesian!
2. Indonesian Contains Many Loanwords from Dutch and English
Indonesia used to be a part of the Dutch Colonial Empire for over three centuries from the 1600s to the 1900s and as a result, there are many Dutch loanwords in Indonesian. It is estimated that there are over 3,000 of such loanwords.
Dutch is also often said to be the closest language to English. They both belong to the West Germanic branch of the Indo-European language family, and as such, the two languages share similarities in terms of vocabulary.
The modern globalized world has also led to numerous English words being loaned into Indonesian.
Considering all of these, English speakers may find that there are a lot of Indonesian words that resemble those in English.
Here are some examples of similarities between Dutch, Indonesian, and English vocabulary:
Fascinated yet? And here's a fun fact: All but three of the months in Indonesian are spelled the same exact way in Dutch!
- Read Also: Months of the Year in Indonesian
3. There Are No Verb Conjugations
Unlike English, Indonesian is simple in the fact that you do not have to conjugate verbs in different tenses!
For example, in English, the past tense conjugations of verbs like "lose", "find", "eat", "drink" are "lost", "found", "ate", "drank".
In Indonesian, you do not have to conjugate verbs based on the time, let alone needing to memorize them (because they don't exist).
All you have to do is, through the use of words, specify the manner and/or the time when something happens. For example:
- Dia tidur → He sleeps
- Dia sedang tidur → He is sleeping
- Dia akan tidur → He will sleep
- Dia sudah tidur → He has slept
- Dia tidur kemarin → He slept yesterday
Notice how the word tidur 'sleep' stays the same, regardless of whenever the action is done. The only thing that changes the meaning in each sentence is a single word that modifies the meaning of the verb.