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  5. How difficult is Indonesian?


How difficult is Indonesian?

I have read that Indonesian is rather easy to learn, the grammar is very simple, there are no plurals, and once you learn a word it has many functions. However I have also read a contradicting view that Indonesian is hard to learn, the only reason that was given is that they speak simplified Indonesian that is essentially all the words shortened (example tidak=tak or something like that)

Your thoughts/experiences are most welcome

November 12, 2018



Indonesian is easy compared to most non west european languages but its still harder than something like Spanish.


Doesn't Spanish have this huge array of verb endings? I think I remember starting to learn it but bailing when I got hit with that.


no, I do not agree. indonesian is extremely easy to learn


It's normal. I can study easily if it's my favorite topic. I need a reason why I shoud learn Indonesian.


The grammar seems simple enough but there are basically zero cognates, and AFAICT words can be used for more than one part of speech.

Oh, and the spelling is almost phonetic. The only thing you need to worry about is if 'e' is pronounced as a schwa or not.


Not true though that there are zero cognates, there are loads of words from Dutch that are quite similar to the English words.


Basically zero; i.e. very few. I don't recall any at all that I've hit in the course, with the possible exception of rumah, but I'm not sure if that's a cognate or just coincidence. Granted, I haven't finished the course yet.


There's a lot of very common but mildly technical words: Informasi, buku*,televisi, komunikasi, jurnalis, novel, gubernur, presiden, komputer, film, media, dokter

*Not sure if buku is a cognate or just a coincidence though


dutch and english are from the same group, rumah is not a cognate. Rumah is house, not room. televisi is television, polisi is police, so there are many words that are alike though.


I'd say formal Indonesian is quite easy to learn for a English native speaker. It has it's quirks (for example, "No plurals" is not quite correct. The concept of pluralisation is quite irregular in Indonesian, but you can often get away without pluralising anything) but is simple to learn enough to get by - due to absence of case, gender etc.

The other perspective is also correct, but in my experience you will pick it up gradually through interacting with people. For example I initially freaked out, thinking I'd never remember all these exceptions, when I learnt that words like "capai" were often shortened in a variety of ways ("cape", "capek"). However on actually hearing my wife use them, it seems like an obvious contraction.

The particles are still mostly beyond me though.


Plural in written language is often like this house=rumah, houses=rumah2 but the main problem is the mixture of Sundanese and bahasa Indonesia, especially in areas like Bandung (West and Middle Java) but there is a difference in when you use cape, capek, capai, lelah (all tired), cause the feeling in all cases is different. tired from work, tired cause your body is not feeling well, etc gives a different result


Oh my god! Really! And you say it's extremely easy to learn? The idea what multiple tiny differences in pronunciation all have different shades of meaning in different parts of the country is withering to me.


you know why it is so easy? cause the indonesian in the street hardly cares about pronountiation. they have no difficulty to understand foreigners using their language. they even have a name for the way (especially english speaking) people pronounce their language "bahasa bisu"


hi there, I think it varies from one person to another. but as rule of thumb, you can overcome if you are truly besotted with.


WS, I lived there for a while. It is relatively simple. In addition to no plurality, there is no conjugation. Good luck with it. From, Cat


Mmm thanks so much for all the replies so to summerize what I heard here, Indonesian is pretty easy to medium based on the fact that plurals are scarce, there are no endings and the grammar is simple. Thanks everyone again.


Indonesian is one of the easier languages to learn...However, if an Indonesian want you to understand they will speak formal Indonesian if they don't want you to understand they will probably swop to what ever is the local language of the island they are on be it Balinese, Javanese, Sasak..... What you find is Indonesian is the common language amongst all the islands. So big cities attract people from all over the archipelago so they converse in Indonesian. No plurals, no tenses no gender of words ...compared yo European languages it is a breeze.


indonesian is extremely easy to learn, I learned it on the streets of Bandung (only risk to mix Sundanese and Indonesian words). Anyone who knows the Dutch language has an advantage since a huge number of words are related to or exact Dutch words. Shortened words are mainly used in the general chat online, people do not say 'tak" in daily life, then they always will say 'tidak' online they also shorten to 'tdk' . The only thing is that partly by the poor the simplified version is being used but in contact with officials, parents, teachers etc the full version is used. Bacca (read in normal day life) Membacca in official language (including the prefix)


Bahasa Indonesia (the standard) is REALLY easy, with the hard parts going to vocabulary not found in Indo-European languages and the slight agglutination to words, but the agglutination isn't that bad as say, Hungarian, it's more to the lines of Esperanto. Indonesian slang (Bahasa Gaul), on the other hand, is where the difficulties you mention come in; as the slang isn't uniform throughout Indonesia as the slang here in the 'states.


according to a government study indonesian is of medium difficulty for native english speakers. however many indonesian people prefer to speak a dialect rather than the formal indonesian that they teach on duolingo, which is what that person probably meant when they say words are shortened.

the study can be found here:https://www.effectivelanguagelearning.com/language-guide/language-difficulty?fbclid=IwAR2CpYyppQkPWTPd_CjcGkBYIcLtHsrnTz3cIAnxmj2T9_5ry5OFoZg-l3I and a article on formal indonesian: http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20180703-why-no-one-speaks-indonesias-language


Really enjoyed that BBC article.


For a Finnish speaker one of the easiest languages to pronounce. I felt the same while studying Spanish and Swahili.


Wow. You learn so much languages =))) If you want to learn Vietnamese, I can help you !


it is easy to pick up and use it to move around Java but it gets harder at an upper-intermediate level and with slang... Indonesians between themselves don't use much formal Indonesian.

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