Humor and Bargain

If you want to develop your speaking skills with Indonesian on the street, we have two important tips for you: use humour and bargain!

1.  HUMOUR

A very appealing feature of the Indonesian people is their 'sense of humour.'

Some would say that Indonesians are "social to the extreme." One thing's for sure: it certainly seems that there's no better pastime for many Indonesians than "getting together with friends to talk and laugh the night away."  


Perhaps as a result of this intense social interaction, Indonesians have developed a remarkable sense of humour that's rarely seen in other parts of the world.  Just watch Indonesians conversing in a restaurant or tune into a local television programme; you'll marvel at the highly-developed 'sense of comic timing' that seems to come so naturally to most Indonesians.


If you really want to bond with Indonesians, don't hesitate to introduce humour into all of your conversations.  


If someone asks you how old you are (which is common in Indonesian culture), you might want to say, Umur saya tujuh belas tahun (I'm 17 years old). In every awkward situation, you can relieve tension with the use of a little humour . . . and Indonesians will love you for it.


2.  Bargain, bargain, bargain ! Indonesians love to bargain

Foreign visitors are often reticent to offer a vendor a lower price than he's asking for his product (thinking that it will be insulting to the vendor) . . . but this is entirely incorrect in the Indonesian context.


Vendors usually want you to bargain with them. Vendors typically derive much enjoyment from the bargaining process, and they're generally very disappointed when someone walks away without attempting to bargain down the asking price.


Learn the terms:

Berapa harganya? (How much is the price?) . . . and . . .

Bisa kurang harganya? (Can you lower the price?)


The answer will be either:

Bisa (can) or Tidak bisa (cannot).


If the vendor is NOT willing to lower his asking price, you can just move on.  If he IS willing, it is common practice to start negotiations at about 50% of the asking price.

If the vendor has asked for Rp 300.000, you would simply say, Bisa Rp 150.000? If you're a good bargainer, you should be able to walk away with the item for about 70% of its asking price.


If you truly want to connect with Indonesians when you're out and about, then don't hesitate to bargain. It can be a lot of fun for you and the vendor . . . especially if you introduce humour into the proceedings!

But be sure to learn, Saya hanya lihat-lihat (I'm just looking) . . . in case you're not interested in buying.

Selamat belajar, happy studying.

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