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If culture is a house . . . then language is the key to the front door and all the rooms inside.


"SELAMAT PAGI" : "GOOD MORNING" in Indonesian Language. LEARN BASIC BAHASA INDONESIA IN JAKARTA OR ONLINE, with Language Studies Indonesia.

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good morning  in Indonesian language

thank you  in Indonesian language       

hello  in Indonesian language               

Indonesian language name                  

:  selamat pagi

terima kasih


Bahasa Indonesia

Indonesian Homographs

In our last two articles, we covered Indonesian homophones & homonyms. 

Today, we will discuss Indonesian homographs. A Homograph is a word that has more than one meaning, and is pronounced slightly differently in different situations.

An example of an English homograph would be this word : BASS. It can refer to a musical string instrument. In this case the word is pronounced /beis/.

OR It can also refer to a saltwater fish, in which case the word is pronounced /bas/.




If you pronounce this word /ˈap(ə)l/ , you are referring to a kind of fruit. This pronunciation originates from the Dutch language.

On a busy workday, you might tell your colleagues . . .

Saya tidak makan siang, saya akan makan apel saja.”

(I’m not having lunch today, I’m just having an apple.)

OR If you pronounce this word /ˈapɛl/ , you are talking about a romantic date.

For example . . .

Saya ada apel sabtu malam ini dengan Rosa.”

(I have a date with Rosa on Saturday night.)



If you pronounce this word /ˈkɛtʃʌp/, you are referring to soya sauce. Indonesians enjoy “kecap manis” (sweet soya sauce) or “kecap asin” (salty soya sauce).

If your food lacks flavour, you might ask the waiter . . .

Boleh saya minta kecap manis?

(Can I have sweet soya sauce?)

OR if you pronounce this word /ˈkətʃʌp/, you are talking about someone eating with their mouth open, and producing a “smacking” sound.

If your not-too-polite friend is making this smacking sound in a restaurant,

you might want to say to him or her . . .

Makan pelan-pelan saja, kecapmu terdengar sampai ke mana-mana!!!”

(Just eat slowly, your smacking can be heard everywhere!!!)



You may assume that this word has a connection to the colour red (merah) . . .

And you would be correct.

If you pronounce the word /məˈmɛ.rah/, we are speaking of something that reddens - something that turns red. For example :

If I embarrass my friend and he blushes, I might say . . .

Oh maaf, pipimu memerah.”

(Oh sorry, you’re blushing / literally, your cheeks are red.)

If my friend gets a sunburn, I might say . . .

“Hei, kulitmu memerah!

(Hey, you have a sunburn / literally, your skin is red.)

If our friend did not get enough sleep last night, and has bloodshot eyes,

you might say . . .

“Oh, matamu memerah!

(Oh, you have bloodshot eyes / literally, your eyes are red.)

OR if you pronounce this word /məˈmə.rah/, you are talking about squeezing moisture or liquid from something. For example :

If I am wringing out my wet clothes, I might say . . .

Saya sedang memerah baju saya.”

(I am wringing out my clothes.)

If I am milking a cow, I might say . . .

“Saya sedang memerah susu sapi.”

(I am milking a cow.)



If you pronounce this word /tʌˈhu/, you are referring to tofu.

You could say . . .

Saya lebih suka tahu daripada tempe.”

(I like tofu better than tempe.)

OR if you pronounce this word /tʌu/, you are talking about knowing something.

For example . . .

Saya tahu kantor pos di mana.”

(I know where the post office is.)

And if you would like to use “tahu” and “tahu” in the same sentence, you could say . . .

Saya tahu di supermarket mana Anda bisa beli tahu.”

(I know a supermarket where you can buy tofu.)


To end this article on homographs,

let us leave with one of Indonesia’s most famous tongue twisters.

See if you can master this :

“Aku tahu aku suka tahu.”

(I know I like tofu.)

Selamat Belajar!!



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