Passive voice with prefix ter-
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The prefix ter- forms passive verbs that are either a) stative, b) accidental, or c) abilitative. It is also used to form the superlative (terbaruyang paling baru, the newest). Here we will not discuss the superlative, but focus on the verb forming prefix ter-.

a) stative verbs

These verbs refer to a state of affairs. As there is no action involved there cannot be an actor.

Kecepatan terbatas.
Speed is limited. | Limited speed.

In this sentence emphasis is not on who or what limits the speed. This contrasts with:

Kecepatan dibatasi.
Speed was limited.

where the act was done deliberately or intentionally.

b) accidental verbs

The prefix -ter often expresses that an action occurs unintentionally. The accidental quality of these words is sometimes an additional quality as most accidental verbs are also stative and as such there is no focus on the actor. Often only the context determines whether a ter- verb is solely stative or also accidental.

Rumah itu terbakar.
The house burnt down.

This sentence can simply refer to the fact that the house burnt down (stative), but it can also imply that the fire was caused by an accident or by a natural cause such as struck by a lightening. As there is no emphasis on the actor arson can be ruled out.

This contrasts sharply with di- verbs where the action is usually performed intentionally:

Rumah itu dibakar.
The house was set ablaze.

c) abilitative verbs

Abilitative ter- verbs differ from stative ter- verbs in that they can have an actor. It is more common to encounter abilitative verbs in the negative, either with tidak, or, preferably, with tak. Also, while stative and accidental ter- verbs loose suffixes -kan and -i, abilitative ter- verbs don’t.

Sherlock Holmes: Misteri yang tak terpecahkan.
Unsolvable mystery. (Indonesian title of A Slight Trick of the Mind.)

Here, terpecahkan is based on memecahkan (to solve). Suffix -kan is retained.

Abilitative ter- verbs are more frequently found in formal Indonesian. In informal speech, a di- verb preceded by bisa or dapat (can) is very frequently used, and tidak is favoured over tak.

Misteri yang tidak dapat dipecahkan.
Unsolvable mystery.

In many cases the context decides wether a ter- verb is stative, accidental or abilitative. In the first sentence below terbawa is abilitative, in the second it is accidental. Note that in both cases the actor is indicated by oleh. With the di- passive oleh (by) is always optional. With abilitative ter- verbs oleh is always required when the actor is included.

Apa paket-paket itu terbawa oleh kamu sendiri ?
Were you able to carry those parcels by yourself

Maaf, paket Anda terbawa oleh saya.
Sorry , I took your parcels by mistake.

From bhāṣā to bahasa
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The word bahasa is derived from Sanskrit bhāṣā and it has the same meaning as language, Sprache, taal, langue, la lengua etc.

In most Indian languages the word bhāṣā still has the same meaning. In Hindi, हिन्दी भाषा (Hindi bhāṣā) means ‘Hindi language’, but in English we typically simply call it ‘Hindi’, just as we call bahasa Indonesia ‘Indonesian’.

From the first milenium onwards, Southeast Asia underwent a strong Indian influence. Today, about 5% of all Indonesian words are of Sanskrit origin, and a few more are from Tamil and other Indian languages.

One of the words that were imported into Southeast Asian languages was the word bhāṣā. In some languages the word was pronounced and then also written as bhasabasa, or phasa. In the Malay language (Indonesian and Malaysian), it became bahasa.

If you want to say ‘Dutch’, and you refer to the language, in Indonesian it must be preceded by bahasa: So Dutch is bahasa Belanda, Italian is bahasa Italia etc.

Many regional languages have there own word for ‘language’. The Batak language, for instance, is called hata Batak, the language of the Karo in North Sumatra is called cakap Karo. But there are also many languages that use the word bahasa or its variant basa:

Bahasa Melayu (Malay, widely spoken on Sumatra, Kalimantan, and the Malay peninsula)
Basa Jawa (Javanese, spoken in Central and East Java)
Basa Sunda (Sundanese, spoken in West Jawa)
Basa Bali (Balinese)
Bahasa Betawi (Jakarta Malay, also known as Omong Betawi)
Bahasa Papua (Papuan Malay, spoken along the coast of Indonesian-Papua)
Bahasa Manado (Manado Malay, spoken in North Sulawesi)
Bahasa Ciacia
 (Cia-Cia language, Sulawesi)

It is also used in other Southeast Asian countries:

Bahasa Sūg (Tausug, spoken in Sulu, Philippines)
Bahasa Malaysia (Malaysian)
Phiesa Khmae  (Khmer or Cambodian)
Phasa Lao (Lao or Laotian)
Phasa Thai  (Thai)
Myanma bhasa (Burmese)

Have you ever heard someone asking: “How do you say that in Bahasa?” A proper reply to this question would be “What bahasa?” And did you notice that they wrote bahasa with a capital B as if it was the name of the language. No, it’s not, and that’s why bahasa is never capitalised:

Many Uses of ‘bahasa’

Saya kira Anda tahu bahasa Jepang.
I thought you knew Japanese.

Mengapa bahasa Inggris sulit untuk dipelajari?
Why is English hard to learn?

Kamu tahu berapa bahasa?
How many languages do you speak?

Penutur bahasa Indonesia sudah mencapai 300 juta.
There are already 300 million speakers of Indonesian.

Di Indonesia ada dua bahasa isyarat.
There are two sign languages in Indonesian.

Anto pintar sekali. Dia tahu banyak bahasa komputer.
Anto is very smart. He knows many computer languages.

Dewi, bahasa ibunya bahasa Jawa.
Dewi’s mother tongue is Javanese.

Di Indonesia ada banyak ragam bahasa seperti bahasa pers dan bahasa percakapan.
In Indonesia, there are many varieties of language such as media language and conversational language.

Aku nggak suka kalau orang pakai bahasa gado-gado.
I don’t like it when people use mixed language.

Gado-gado is a salad made with a mix of various vegetables. In Malaysia, mixing languages such as English and

Malaysian is known as bahasa rojak. Rojak, in Indonesian called rujak, is a sweet and spicy salad made with unripe fruits.

Bahasa Tarzan

And then, there is, of course bahasa Tarzan:

Waktu di Mesir, terpaksa saya memakai bahasa Tarzan karena tidak tahu bahasa Arab.
When I was in Egypt, I had to resort to Tarzan language because I didn’t know Arabic.

“Bahasa Tarzan” is a colloquial term used to describe a simplified or broken form of language, often used when someone is unable to speak a particular language fluently. It refers to a basic or rudimentary form of communication, akin to how the fictional character Tarzan communicates in simplified terms in movies and books. It implies a lack of proficiency in the language being spoken.

Remember what George Quinn, the original author of The Indonesian Way said about using the word bahasa:

“In 1928 the Indonesian nationalist movement chose Malay as the future nation’s national language. Its name was changed to bahasa Indonesia, literally: the language (bahasa) of Indonesia. In English we call the language Indonesian: it is not correct to call it simply Bahasa.”

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dodolDodol is a sweet, toffee-like treat made from sticky rice flour (tepung ketan), coconut milk (santan), and palm sugar (gula merah) derived from the sap of the Arenga pinnata sugar palm known as aren or enau.

Dodol is sometimes enhanced with durian flavor. This rich and sweet snack is highly popular in Indonesia, where it originated. Historically, dodol has been enjoyed for over a thousand years, as evidenced by its mention in the Masahar inscription from East Java dating back to 930 CE.

Nowadays, dodol is closely associated with the city of Garut in West Java, which serves as a major production hub for dodol, known and sold as Dodol Garut.

The term dodol is occasionally used in a slightly derogatory manner due to its phonetic similarity to tolol (stupid, dumb). However, it is not considered as rude and impolite, as words such as bodoh, bego, goblok, dungu, tolol, and other words that have largely the same meaning.

Despite its negative connotations, there are certain circumstances in which dodol can be used relatively safely. For instance, when discussing a third person, one might ask, “Lho, kok bisa dodol begitu?” (How can he be so foolish?).

Additionally, in the presence of children, it is possible to playfully tease by asking, “Mana yang dodol garut tadi?” (who was that dodol garut guy again?). By adding Garut to dodol, the term is further distanced from tolol, making it clear that the intention is lighthearted.

Furthermore, in response to a friend’s question of “kenapa?” (why?), one might humorously reply, “Pura-pura dodol, ya?” (Pretending to be clueless, huh?).

So enjoy your newly-learned word, but be careful in applying it!

Is Indonesian Difficult to Learn?
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For a native speaker of English, learning Indonesian is harder than learning any Romance of Germanic language. This is because English is a Germanic language which has borrowed about half of its vocabulary from Romance languages, mainly French.

But is Indonesian more difficult to learn than a Slavonic language such as Russian or Polish? I don’t think so. And it is definitely easier to learn than Arabic, Turkish, Hindi, Chinese, or Vietnamese.

Of course, when you are a speaker of a related language, such as Filipino, Malay, Malagasy, or any Polynesian language, then Indonesian is very easy to learn. This is because all these languages belong to the same family of Austronesian languages.

Consider this scenario: if you’re a native Turkish, Chinese, or Finnish speaker with no foreign language proficiency, which language is easier to learn: English or Indonesian? The unequivocal answer: Indonesian.

Simple Phonology and Orthography and no Tenses

Indonesian is much easier to learn than English, French, Hindi, or Thai. In fact, it ranks among the least challenging languages to acquire. What makes it so accessible is its straightforward pronunciation, devoid of tones or intricate phonology. While Indonesian grammar isn’t necessarily “simple,’ it’s certainly less convoluted than English grammar. English orthography is a nightmare for every learner (even for native speakers!), whereas Indonesian orthography is very straightforward as there is an almost perfect correspondence between phonemes (sounds of the language) and graphemes (letters of the alphabet).

Unless Arabic, or many Asian languages, Indonesian does not have a complicated script to learn. It uses the Roman (Latin) alphabet —the same script I am using in writing this text. The Roman alphabet was introduced by the Dutch in the 19th century and replaced a number of other alphabets that previously were used to write Malay, as the Indonesian language was then known. It was in 1928 when Malay was renamed as Indonesian and declared to become the language of a future independent Indonesia.

What makes Indonesian easy to learn is, aside from its phonological and orthographic simplicity, is its absence of verb conjugation (run, runs, running, ran), noun declension (house, houses), and articles (like der, die, das in German). Additionally, it lacks tense markers (I eat, ate, have eaten, will eat), relying instead on temporal indicators such as akan (future), sudah (past), and sedang (in progress).

Complex Morphology

On the other hand, Indonesian has a very complex morphology with prefixes, suffixes, circumfixes and infixes. From the root word tunjuk (point), several nominal and verbal forms can be formed, including menunjuk (to point), menunjuki (to provide guidance), menunjukkan (to show, point out), mempertunjukkan (to show, demonstrate, display), pertunjukan (a show, performance), petunjuk (instruction, clue, hint), penunjuk (a guide, indicator), penunjukan (appointing, assigning, nominating), ditunjuk (selected, appointed), ditunjukkan (shown, demonstrated), and telunjuk (index finger).

Indonesian also has two forms of passive voice, one with the prefix di-, and the other without any prefix:

Uang itu sudah diambil.
The money has been taken.

Uang itu sudah saya ambil.
The money has been taken by me.

While the latter construction may sound awkward in English, where active voice (I took the money) predominates, it’s commonplace in Indonesian, where passive constructions abound.

Despite these apparent linguistic complexities, the average Indonesian learner can engage in conversation with native speakers after four semesters of study, three hours per week—much faster than learners of Thai, Vietnamese, or Hindi.

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