Bahasa Indonesian Lesson Four

Body Language and Conversation

Conservative dressing in Indonesia consists of a collared shirt for men and long pants. Women are expected also to wear pants or skirts that go beyond the knee and tops which cover the shoulder. Shorts and t-shirts are accepted in tourist areas and bikinis on tourits beaches, but otherwise they are best avoided, and certainly must be avoided when visiting an Indonesian home or place of worship. Sarongs, short-pants and t-shirts are normally worn around the home. In Balinese Hindu temples, a sash should be worn around the waist.

Avoid using the left hand and avoid pointing at people with the index finger; indicate location with a wave and people with a nod. 'Thumbs-up' has a sexual connotation and as such probably should be avoided. Do not cross your arms in front of a person or put your hands on your hips; these are considered impolite.

When entering a home footwear should be taken off; slippers and sandals are considered acceptable in most informal occassions. Avoid exposing the sole of your foot to others. Do not touch people on the head, or give them a slap on the back.

When visiting an Indonesian home it is normal to greet the head of the household first then all the adult members with a handshake and a statement of one's name. One can then expect to go through a range of 'small talk' questions which are typical in basic Indonesian conversation and greetings. Complete strangers might initiate these, which often seem personal to English-speakers, but when in reality it is a very elaborate way of saying "hello". When faced with an uncomfortable question, it is best to give a joking and deferred answer rather than an outright negation. This may be particularly important in terms of religion; Indonesia has five state-sanctioned religions; Catholic ("Katolik"), Protestant or Christian ("Protestan" or "Kristen"), Hindu ("Hindu"), Buddhism ("Buda") and Muslim ("Islam") with traditional religions shoehorned into Hinduism. Having 'no religion' is associated with communists which may cause some surprise. Obviously, criticism of religions and religious practises is extremely impolite.

When leaving, give your farewells to all adult members of the house and tell them where you are going. You may be asked to stay longer, eat, drink, bath, spend the night etc. This is not meant to be taken too seriously, and should be declined at least the first time.

Example Small Talk

"Nama bapak/ibu siapa?" (What is your name?)
"Nama saya Lev" (My name is Lev), "Nama saya Erica" (My name is Erica)

"Bapak/Ibu asal mari mana?" (Where do you come from?)
"Kami dari Australi" (We are Australian) "Amerika" (America), "Inggeris" (British), "Belanda" (Dutch), "Jerman" (German), "Selandia Baru" (New Zealander), "Perancis" (French), Tionghoa (Chinese), Muangthai (Thai)

"Umur bapak/ibu berapa (tahun)?" (How old are you literally: Your age is how many (years)?)
"Umur saya empat puluh satu" (I am forty-one) or "Saya sudah tua, mau pension!" (I am old enough, I want my pension!)

"Bapak/Ibu sudah kawin belum?" (Are you married yet?)
"Sudah/Belum" (Already/Not yet)

"Saudara sekalian punya berapa anak? (How many children do you have)
"Kami punya enam anak" (We have six children)
"Enam!?" (Six!?)
"Ya, kucing satu, kelinci dua, dan tikkus tiga" (Yes, one cat, two rabbits, and three rats")

(Nota bene: There are additional classifiers in Bahasa Indonesian; at the moment we can ignore these - one will be understood and can understand quantities without classifiers)

"Bapak/Ibu punya berapa suadara?" (How many brothers and sisters do you have?)
"Saya punya ipar dua" (I have two brothers)

"Bapak/Ibu bekerja apa?" (What is your work?)
"Saya sekretaris" (I am a secretary), "Saya komputer ilmuwan" (I am a computer scientist)
"Ada kartu bisnis?" (Do you have a business card?)
"Ma'af, tidak ada" (Sorry, I don't have one)

"Bakak/Ibu agama apa?" (What religion are you?)
"Agama saya filosofi" (My religion is philosophy), "Saya tidak beragama" (I'm not religious")

Additional Family and Occupation Terms

"Bapak" (Father), "Ibu" (Mother), "Suami" (Husband), "Isteri" (Wife), "Kawin" (Married), "Carai" (divorced), "Keluarga/Famili" (Family), "Saudara" (Brother/Sister), "Adik" (Younger sibling), "Kakak" (Older sibling), "Pacar" (boy/girlfriend), "Teman/Kawan" (Friend), "Anak" (Child), "Anak Perempuan" (Daughter), "Anak laki-laki" (son), "Cucu" (Grandchild), "Orang tua" (parents literally, 'old people'), "Bayi" (baby), "Bibi" (aunt), "Panam" (uncle), "Saudara sepupu" (cousin), "Keponakan" (nephew, niece)

"Ilmuwan/-wati" (scientist m/f), "Karyawan/-wati" (administrator m/f), "Mahasiswa" (university student), "Wartawan/-wati" (journalist m/f), "Manajer" (manager), "Sekretaris" (secretary), "Pengarang" (writer), "Seniman" (artist), "Dosen" (university lecturer), "Guru" (teacher)