Indonesian/Adding vocabulary with word association

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.

Word association edit

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).

Words derived directly (or almost directly) from Indonesian or Malay:
English Indonesian
tea* (via Dutch) teh
sarong* sarung
amok/amuck* amuk
ketchup* kecap (soy sauce)

See also the #Words spelled the same as English - there's a bunch of "free" vocabulary!

A few suggested associations
English Indonesian Suggested association
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?)
priest/minister pendeta pundit*
account rekening reckoning*
cinema bioskop (sounds like bio-scope - something for watching life)
late telat (informal) too late* (from Dutch)
season musim muslim
newspaper koran Quran
Advanced vocabulary
English Indonesian Suggested association
exhaust (on a vehicle) knalpot (or kenalpot) gnarled pot
super powers Adidaya Adidas
intellect, reason budi Buddha
oral, verbal lisan listen
skills ketrampilan trampoline (skills)

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.:

English Indonesian Suggested association
Less obvious associations
black hitam The black man did nothing wrong, but the policeman hit 'im.
add more here

Similar words to English edit

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 edit

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).

Common words:

  • radio
  • organ (as in internal organ)
  • hotel
  • menu
  • gratis
  • normal
  • 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)
  • Domain
  • Internet (There is also "dunia maya" which is less known)

Less common words

  • abnormal
  • alias
  • target
  • formal
  • regional (rare, but it's understood. Remember to pronounce phonetically, with a hard g.)

Modern technology edit

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 edit

  • dosis (dose)
  • dialog
  • 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)
  • drama
  • dramatik (dramatic)
  • dramatis (dramatic)
  • stabil (stable)
  • kultur (culture; more commonly //budaya//)
  • kultural (cultural)

Concrete nouns edit

  • tatu (tatoo - in either sense: a picture on the skin or a military music event)
  • sponsor (advertisement; more commonly iklan)
  • artikel
  • kios (kiosk)
  • brosir (brochure)
  • coklat (chocolate; also means brown)
  • apel (apple)
  • pir (pear)
  • mangga (mango)
  • manggis (mangosteen)
  • sop (soup)
  • gosip
  • pensil
  • lampu

Music edit

  • musik
  • dram
  • band
  • grup
  • pop

Note, major musical terms in English, such as jazz and rock, are widely recognized.

Uncertain edit

These words need to be confirmed before being added above - are these words commonly used in Indonesian?

  • melodrama?

The same word with slightly different meanings edit

  • 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.)

moderately common... edit

  • tempo (time period)

Scientific & academic terms edit

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)
  • planet
  • desimal (decimal)

Less common words (advanced vocab) edit

  • sensus (census)
  • kudeta (coup d'etat)
  • otomotif
  • ambivalent (ambivalent)
  • anarki (anarchy)
  • sinonim
  • antonim
  • arsitektur (architecture)
  • stasiun (station, as in train station)
  • stroberi (strawberry)
  • universitas
  • kampus
  • 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.

Closely related meanings edit

  • guru (teacher)
  • mobil (car i.e. automobile)
  • gubernur (governor c.f. gubernatorial)
  • apotek (pharmacy, c.f. apothecary; farmasi is also used)

Slightly similar edit

  • archive (arsip)
  • bishop (uskup)
  • biru (blue)

Guide to guessing edit

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? edit

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)

For example:

Portuguese: tenda

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)

See also edit