***CLICK ON THE WORD TO HEAR IT PRONOUNCED***
Guide to Pronunciation of Indonesian
You will need to LISTEN (to your teacher and to the audio for Keren!) to really pronounce Indonesian correctly, but the following guide will give you a rough idea how to sound words out. Unlike English, Indonesian is relatively consistent in matching sounds to spellings, but there are some exceptions to this, and there are several sounds that are tricky for English- speakers.
a like a in father datang, nama e like u in but OR* selamat, senang e between the e in let and the a in late es, sore i like ee in feet pagi, siang o between the aw in saw and the oe in toe kopi, orang u like oo in boot buku, duduk** ai like ie in tie baik, sampai*** au like ow in how mau, saudara****
*NOTE: There is no rule to know which way to pronounce e in a particular word without hearing it first; your teacher will give you the correct pronunciation as you go along.
**the u in the second syllable of duduk sounds more like the oo in book)
***the ai in sampai is often pronounced ay as in day, especially in Java
****the au in saudara is often pronounced oe as in toe)
In other cases where two vowels are not separated by a consonant, just put the two vowel sounds together: siapa = si apa, etc. When a vowel is repeated, put a glottal stop (= the catch in your throat when you say "uh-oh!") between the vowels: maaf = ma-af.
I. Consonants pronounced very much as in English:
b as in bed bahasa, mobil d as in dad duduk, saudara f as in feel foto, maaf g as in good guru, pagi NEVER as in giant l as in lap lagi, selamat m as in man malam, selamat n as in nap Natal, tahun ALSO SEE ng, ny, below s as in see siang, kelas NEVER as in boys w as in well wayang, kawan NEVER as in where y as in yell yang, Yogyakarta
II. Consonants pronounced somewhat differently than in English:
*k, p, and t DO NOT have the puff of air they have in such English words as kill, put, and tap.
**NOTE: When k comes at the END of a word, the sound is cut off sharply (like the glottal stop mentioned above): baik, becak
**NOTE: ng alone does NOT have the "hard" g, as in finger, which is always written as ngg in Indonesian: tinggal, penggaris
Both ng and ny can be found at the BEGINNINGS of words: ngopi, Nyonya
III. Consonants presenting special problems:
c like the t y in get your feet off the table!, close to the c in cello or the ch in chat, NEVER like the c in cat cinta, becak h as in house, but it can also appear at the ENDS of words: hari, bahasa, sekolah r like the tt in butter or gotta. It is usually a tap of the tongue behind the teeth, though it sometimes is more of a trill (like the rr in Spanish arriba, especially at the ends of words rumah, saudara, kabar
The letters q, v, x, z are very rare in Indonesian, and are mostly found in words borrowed from English, Dutch or Arabic.
Here is how you pronounce the alphabet in Indonesian: