7 Reasons why it’s difficult to listen to an Indonesian speaker

Have you been learning Indonesian? Do you find it hard to listen to an Indonesian speaker?

If yes, do not worry! It’s not your own problem. It’s something that all Indonesian learners are having difficulties with. But why?

Reason No. 1: Modification of Prefixes and Suffixes

In conversation, Indonesian people tend to modify the words that they use by reducing or eliminating some prefixes/suffixes that were supposed to be there. There are also some prefixes and suffixes that do not exist in Indonesian formal writing that are used in conversation only.

Reason No. 2: Minimum Level of Aspiration

Many words in Indonesian require minimum level of aspiration, making pronunciation of Indonesian words effortless. Because of the lack of the effort, some Indonesian speakers even end up missing some syllables when saying some words, making it hard to identify the word that they are saying (unless if you are already used to it).

Reason No. 3: Quick Transition Between One Word to Another

Because it’s very easy to pronounce the words, Indonesian people can jump from one word to another word in their sentences very easily and quickly.

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Reason No. 4: The Language is too Flexible

The Indonesian language itself is very flexible. For instance, adverbs such as ‘tadi’ can be located at the beginning of a sentence, before the verb or at the end of the sentence. Hence, it’s hard to get the meaning of the whole sentence straight away when it’s spoken.

Reason No. 5: Addition of Particles

There are also some particles in the Indonesian conversation such as ‘dong’, ‘nih’, ‘kan’ etc that implies additional meaning in the sentence being said.

Reason No. 6: Pronouns Stay the Same when Used to Indicate Possession

Pronouns stay the same when used to indicate possession. This means that the word ‘saya’ can be repeated many times in a sentence and each with different function and meaning.

Reason No. 7: No Verb Tenses

Last but not least, there are no verb tenses in Indonesian. Indonesian speakers will usually incorporate adverbs of time in their sentences instead of changing their verbs to match with the time. This can be rather confusing at times and Indonesian speakers can even comprehend sentences that does not incorporate time at all (a normal phenomenon in Asian languages).

Tell us what you think!

In the next posts I will discuss ways to improve your listening skills in Indonesian. Keep checking this blog or subscribe to our newsletter by filling the form on the right hand side of this page to receive updates on our FREE Indonesian language and culture resources (sent fortnightly)!

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7 Reasons why it’s difficult to listen to an Indonesian speaker

2 thoughts on “7 Reasons why it’s difficult to listen to an Indonesian speaker

    • 21/02/2016 at 8:22 am

      Yes, Indonesian like me and friends, are using Friendster a lot than Facebook and MySpace. Thus my caumps network blocks Friendster, then I use anonymous surf like (ID) just to visit Friendster.


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