Indonesian/Adding vocabulary with word association
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Here are some effective mnemonic (memory) techniques to help you remember vocabulary. They take some work, but you'll be rewarded with a fast-growing vocabulary.
There are some easy words and some hard words; there are some images which will stick in your head and help you remember, and others that seem ridiculous or just don't work for you. Take what works, and create your own images to help you remember words you come across.
Remember that repetition also helps - keep a list and review it at increasing intervals until you've got the words memorized.
Any kind of word association can help you in the early stages of remembering a word. The most effective associations are ones that are vivid, emotional, funny and/or shocking.
Note: this section is under construction, and formatting decisions haven't been finalised. Feel free to add your suggestions. If you don't understand the table formatting, just try your best; otherwise, add your suggestion below the table.
Note 2: * just for interest and education, where there is an actual connection in the history of the words, the word is marked with an asterix, *. The connection with English is often via Sanskrit (Hindi words that entered English, like pundit) or Dutch (tea), or Chinese (ketchup).
|tea* (via Dutch)||teh|
|ketchup*||kecap (soy sauce)|
See also the #Words spelled the same as English - there's a bunch of "free" vocabulary!
|white||putih||The putih cat is white.|
|seven||tujuh||Everyone sings "Happy birthday tujuh!" on your seventh birthday|
|sweet||manis||Having moneys is sweet.|
|(government) minister||menteri||Mandarin* (think of the government official, like in China)|
|hat/cap||topi||your hat goes on top|
|factory||pabrik||fabric, fabricate (* via the Dutch?)|
|cinema||bioskop||(sounds like bio-scope - something for watching life)|
|late||telat (informal)||too late* (from Dutch)|
|exhaust (on a vehicle)||knalpot (or kenalpot)||gnarled pot|
Sometimes there is no exact association that comes to mind. If you're keen to use the technique, you might find an association that's rather distant or twisted, but close enough to help. (Though it might be just that thinking it over and trying to find an association helps you memorize the word, at least as much as the obscure association.)
If you find an easier image, Feel free to add it and move the entry to a table, above.:
Less obvious associations
|black||hitam||The black man did nothing wrong, but the policeman hit 'im.|
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Similar words to English
Note: This section needs to be arranged in sections - perhaps topics and word types will be more useful than "Words spelt the same as English" and "Nearly the same." It is suggested, however, that "Less common words" be kept separate, as an advanced vocabulary list.
Words spelled the same as English
Remember, just because it's spelt the same, doesn't mean it's pronounced in exactly the same way. Indonesians pronounce things far more phonetically (pronouncing each letter in the standard way with few exceptions). If you use English pronunciation, people may or may not understand you, so it's far better to follow the rules of Indonesian pronunciation, according to how the word is spelt.
Note also that although the words may look like English, they still follow Indonesian rules of pronunciation word order (blue radio = radio biru) and construction (e.g. to carry on a dialogue = berdialog).
- organ (as in internal organ)
- hanger (= clothes hanger)
- AC (ah-seh) (air-conditioning)
- WC (weh-seh) (water closet)
- toilet (but WC is the most common term)
- CD, DVD (pr sidi, dividi - i.e. like the English but with short i sounds rather than ee sounds)
Less common words
- regional (rare, but it's understood. Remember to pronounce phonetically, with a hard g.)
There are several abbreviations which are not pronounced in standard Indonesian form, but rather mimic English pronunciation:
- TV (pronounced as tivi, i.e. almost the same as English)
- DVD (dividi)
- CD (sidi)
- GPS (jipies)
Nearly the same
- dosis (dose)
- musik (music)
- es (ice)
- es krim (ice cream)
- piyama (pajama)
- sama (same)
- nama (name)
- kartu (card)
- buku (book)
- bir (beer)
- truk (truck)
- bis (or more rarely, bus)
- taksi (taxi)
- telepon (telephone)
- nasional (national)
- internasional (international)
- dosin/lusin (dozen)
- aktif (active)
- dwi- (di-, i.e. prefix meaning two)
- solusi (solution - to a problem)
- migrasi (migration(
- kasus (e.g. police or legal case)
- menit (minute)
- nomor (number)
- paspor (passport)
- kode pos (post code)
- gelas (glass)
- kampanye (campaign)
- transparan (transparent)
- fail (meaning file, pr file; also berkas)
- introspeksi diri (to be introspective; self-examination)
- manajemen (management)
- direksi (direction, actually direksi is referring to director in a company)
- strategis (strategic)
- riil (real)
- aktual (actual)
- faktual (factual)
- fakta (fact)
- steril (sterile)
- dramatik (dramatic)
- dramatis (dramatic)
- stabil (stable)
- kultur (culture; more commonly //budaya//)
- kultural (cultural)
- tatu (tatoo - in either sense: a picture on the skin or a military music event)
- sponsor (advertisement; more commonly iklan)
- kios (kiosk)
- brosir (brochure)
- coklat (chocolate; also means brown)
- apel (apple)
- pir (pear)
- mangga (mango)
- manggis (mangosteen)
- sop (soup)
Note, major musical terms in English, such as jazz and rock, are widely recognized.
These words need to be confirmed before being added above - are these words commonly used in Indonesian?
The same word with slightly different meanings
- Mister (term of address for white male, unofficial but very common)
- Blacksweet (pr. blekswit, in imitation of English) - dark and attractive, used of an attractive dark-skinned woman. (The Indonesian term is hitam manis, but the literal translation "black sweet" is widely known.)
- tempo (time period)
Scientific & academic terms
Note, major scientific & academic terms are often very similar to English, including fields of study such as biology, geology. planet names (apart from bumi = earth). Remember that the pronunciation follows Indonesian rules - don't relax and think you know the word, and read the word as if it were English!
- hortikultura (horticulture)
Less common words (advanced vocab)
- sensus (census)
- kudeta (coup d'etat)
- ambivalen (ambivalent)
- anarki (anarchy)
- arsitektur (architecture)
- stasiun (station, as in train station)
- stroberi (strawberry)
- akta (act, as in written legal document)
Many technical and philosophical words are also the same, or are formed in predictable ways. E.g. -ization becomes -isasi, so globalization becomes globalisasi.
- guru (teacher)
- mobil (car i.e. automobile)
- gubernur (governor c.f. gubernatorial)
- apotek (pharmacy, c.f. apothecary; farmasi is also used)
- archive (arsip)
- bishop (uskup)
- biru (blue)
Guide to guessing
Try in your usual pronunciation of the English word, with an Indonesian accent as best you can, and see if it's recognized (then take note how //they// pronounce it). If that doesn't work, try pronouncing the word if read with Indonesian pronunciation rules.
Why do so many words sound the same?
Just for your interest:
You may be wondering why many words sound similar in Indonesian and English. Most or all of these words have come to Indonesian as loan-words from other languages, especially European languages, and most especially Dutch. (See Loan words in Indonesian on Wikipedia) Realising the connection might sometimes makes it easier to remember the words.
Words that appear to have similar origins (lacking confirmation - please supply references if possible)
Sanskrit and Hindi: Sanskrit is an Indo-European language and shares a common origin with Latin and most other European languages. There is an additional influence from Hindi on English due to the British colonization of India. E.g. The English word pundit derives from the Hindi word for a priest (and Sanskrit before that) and probably has a common origin with pendeta. (reference needed)
Menteri (government minister) derives from Sanskrit, and the Malay word menteri is in turn the origin of the Portuguese word "Mandarim" (aquele que manda = he who rules)
- Kata serapan dalam Bahasa Indonesia - loanwords in Indonesian from various languages (Indonesian Wikipedia).
- How to learn a language - a Wikibooks module for use when learning any language.
- Loan words in Indonesian in Wikipedia. Many of the European loan words (and some others) are similar to English.