Bahasa Indonesian


If you are a long time reader of our blogs or have travelled this part of the world yourself then you may be familiar with some Bahasa, the local official language of Indonesia as well as Singapore and Malaysia. As languages go it is relatively straight forward – no gender, no tenses or articles. Plurals are often achieved by saying the noun twice like fish fish or sheep sheep!

Understanding the names of features of the coast and sea helps with navigation in these parts too;

  • Tajong – point or cape or headland
  • Selat – strait or channel between two islands
  • Jalan – a road or street
  • Palau – island
  • Gilli – small island (I think)
  • Kota – town
  • Kampung – village (actually the origin of the English ‘compound’)
  • Laut – sea
  • Besar – large/big; how many ‘Pulau Besar’ are there around the coasts of SE Asia?
  • Kecil – small
  • Air – water/liquid
  • Labuan – anchorage
  • Bukit – hill
  • Telus – bay
A view from the beach at Kupang
A view from the beach at Kupang

Having said all that Indonesia is a tribal island nation much like French Polynesia spread over thousands of miles; the local dialect apparently may be as far from official Bahasa Indonesia as English from Gaelic! Whether Temptress’ crew can make themselves understood we’ve yet to find out but at least we have a little familiarity with the official version from our time in Singapore (Malaysia road trip , March 2015).