"You" in professional and casual Indonesian!

The 'Language' that we study in Duolingo is far different from our daily-life usage! This is our "Professional" language, the one we use in schools and exams.

Our "Talking" language consists of mostly slang, especially with friends.

Example: "You"

In the professional terms, it is: "Engkau" it is used when talking to elders or people you respect. Less professional is "Kamu" but it isn't rude.

Now, if you are talking to friends, you can use "Lu"

DON'T SAY SLANG TO PEOPLE YOU RESPECT! Don't say "Lu" to your mother or anyone else, because if us Indonesians say that to our mothers, we get slapped or lectured. (I'm kidding, it's just a lecture.)

This is just a fun fact and a learning thing for those who want to speak to your friends, have a good day!! ^_^

May 9, 2019


Hello, We Indonesians say "you" in many ways. There are:

  1. Kamu (Formal/Non-formal) used to say you to your friends, your colleague, your teacher, etc.

  2. Anda (Formal) used to say you to stranger in same age, don't say it to someone older than you.

  3. Kau (Non-formal) its an abreviation from word "engkau". Used to say you to your friends, don't say it to someone older than you.

  4. Lu (Very non-formal) and only used in Jakarta Region (our capital).

May 12, 2019

Addition: because of the spread of Jakarta-based media, young people from all over the country also tend to use "lu"/"lo" every once in a while, mostly to seem cool.

Source: personal experience, including my cousins from Gorontalo.

May 13, 2019

Yes, I live in Sumatra island, but using "lu" or "gue" outside Jakarta in my personal experience is considered "rude" by most people.

May 14, 2019

Indeed it is. It's more commonly found in chatspeak than in real life outside of Jakarta.

May 14, 2019

Engkau is not a profesionnal term. I don't think I've ever heard anyone address other people with engkau. It's usually used more in songs or poetry. It's also usually used when you're praying to God.

May 13, 2019

Fun fact. Just when you think you have learned something new and useful, a netive will whisper into your ear "we actually use this slang word for that, no one uses that word anymore"

Best of luck in your learnings!!

May 14, 2019

Yes the course is very different than casual language, the vocab is small too.

Indonesian is a weird language as it was invented very recently. It pulled words from all over the place and set some consistent rules for their use and spelling. The spelling is quite good compared to english which is frankenstein. The rules are not good as they are complicated in how they change words. The choice of words not great either.

Like all languages Indonesian has evolved in use. This has led to a simplification in use and change in words used. Which overall is good. But it changes so fast that the official language taught is now quite different.

Amongst locals they have not the best schooling but are taught the official Indonesian. They usually learn some town version of Indonesia, and some regional or more local language and maybe some paternal language. On top they may learn words as used in media or tv or the internet. There is a strong urge across the nations people to also know English...

Given that there exists so many languages in use across Indonesia and you will often find Indonesian not in common use in many places, I have to wonder why a language was made up in the first place and just not another adopted? English for example would have lead to a vastly different nation than the one today, with better education and economic outcomes.

Given the purge of "colonialism" and guess rise of pride I can see the desire to go your own way. But is that best and in practice is Indonesia a well used language across Indonesia? I don't think it is.

May 10, 2019

Why a language was made up in the first place? Because it's not made up. Malay has been in use by people of Nusantara since a long time ago for trade. There are 3 types of languages Indonesians know in the Dutch period: Their native language, Malay, and Dutch (if they're educated). Since Malaya was colonialized by the British, and the Indonesian archipelago was colonialized by the Dutch, the usage of loanwords creates "different versions of Malay", the Malay language used in Malaya (now Malaysia), and the Indonesian language used in Indonesia. The Indonesian language is Malay, with loanwords from Chinese, Arabic, Dutch, and Javanese. It is not made up. It has been there since a long time, until someone in the 1920s decide to give it a name.

There are more than 3000 native languages in Indonesia. Acehnese, Minangkabau, Javanese, Sundanese, and one of the biggest challenge of the Indonesian government is to unite them. That is why Indonesian was used to unite the archipelago. Search for the map of Indonesia - that is the size of Europe. I'm not kidding. Indonesia is united by three things, the Indonesian language, the Sang Saka Merah Putih flag, and the concept of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in diversity). If English was adopted instead there would be no Indonesia.

Indonesian is not rarely used. There are many Javanese who moved to other regions in the transmigration program applied a few years before. The people of Minangkabau are literally everywhere, because their matrilineal custom cause many Minangkabau men to make a living outside of Western Sumatera, in Indonesian "merantau". In my dream university, Universitas Indonesia, it is said that people from Sabang to Merauke study there. That's where Indonesian is used. It is used for people from various province and culture to communicate with each other. Indonesia is not homogenous, because not everyone you meet know Javanese. That is why a standardized language is used.

The official language is not "useless" just because people use slangs. The media use it, televisions, radios, newspapers. The education system use it. They use official Indonesian. This is the language you use to talk to people from Sabang to Merauke. And people understand it. As an Indonesian, I don't know every slangs used in Indonesia. Slangs are mostly used in a limited sphere, not everyone knows it. That is why standardized Indonesian is useful.

Is Indonesian a well used language across Indonesia? Yes. It is. It served it's purpose for people from various culture to communicate to each other. It served it's purpose to spread information from Sabang to Merauke. It served it's purpose to unite the archipelago.

If you think that "why a language was made up in the first place and just not another adopted", I am sorry to say that Duolingo is not the place for you.

May 18, 2019
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