The Bear and Bahasa Indonesia

So… finally! The bear had a chance to visit Indonesia 🙂 Selamat datang di Indonesia, Beruang! [Welcome to Indonesia, Bear!]

picture is taken from here

Before coming, the only phrase he knows is selamat malam [good evening/night]. After spending a week in Indonesia, Bali and Banyuwangi to be exact, he almost becomes a native speaker of Indonesian language!

…kidding :p. But at least he knows some more words now, hehe.

Selamat pagi, siang, sore, malam

After knowing selamat malam [good evening/night], the next step would be to learn the greetings for other parts of the day: selamat pagi [good morning], selamat siang [good afternoon], selamat sore [good afternoon/evening]. Oh, and also the other selamat like selamat makan [enjoy your meal/buon appetito/guten Appetit] and selamat tidur [good night].


Yep, I taught him how to say ‘thanks’ like a native :p. Once, he said that to a street vendor after buying a bottle of water and biscuits, and the guy corrected him that it should be terima kasih [thank you], the more formal way :D.

Satu… dua… tiga…

On our ferry ride from Gilimanuk to Ketapang, he decided to learn numbers, and learned very quickly! Using a very unique donkey bridge 🙂

satu [1], dua [2], tiga [3], empat [4], lima [5]
“I saw two tigers as, hmmm, a pet in Lima.”
‘Saw two’ sounds like satu, and two is ‘due’ in Italian, which is very similar with dua.

enam [6], tujuh [7], delapan [8], sembilan [9], sepuluh [10]
“A number with two juice of the panda in Simba’s land wearing a silk pullover.”
This one is absurd, haha 😀 but as long as it helps, why not. ‘A num(ber)’ sounds like enam, ‘two jui(ce)’ sounds like tujuh, ‘of the panda’ is ‘de la pan(da)’ in French, ‘Simba’s land’ and sembilan sounds similar, and… ‘si(lk) pullo(ver)’ for sepuluh.

Not a very straightforward donkey bridge, with connections to Italian and French here and there, but it works! He recited the numbers to a taxi driver once, to show off, and the taxi driver was super excited, hahaha.

Then… I taught him how to combine the numbers with belas [teens, that tiga belas would be thirteen], puluh [tens], ratus [hundred], ribu [thousand] and juta [million], because it’s needed for understanding prices (In Indonesia the lowest banknote is one thousand and the highest is one hundred thousand, yeah… so many zeros :D). But I think he’s not there yet :p.

Om swastiastu and suksma

At first, in Bali, he greeted people and said thanks in Indonesian language as I taught him: selamat pagi, siang, sore, malam and makasih. When we were riding our bikes around a village (Kalisada, north of Bali), people would greet, “Hello, mister!” and he replied with “Selamat siang!“, garnering surprised responses from people, “Bisa Bahasa Indonesia?? [Can (speak) Indonesian language??]

But then, both of us learned how to say greetings and thank you in the local language, Balinese. And people’s responses were even warmer. He said that it was a very nice feeling, when buying something in the supermarket, and saying suksma [thank you] to the cashier, then getting a wide and friendly smile as a reply along with suksma mewali [you’re welcome].

When travelling in Indonesia, knowing Indonesian language is good, but knowing the local language will give a greater impact (especially in bargaining prices) :).

Babi guling, ayam guling, bebek guling, kucing guling, beruang guling…

Babi guling [suckling pig] is one of the famous dishes in Bali. He didn’t get a chance to try it, but he really likes the phrase, the sound of it. Sounds funny he said. Especially after he saw guling [bolster, a sausage-like pillow to be hugged when sleeping] for the first time in one of the hotels :D.

And then, since he knows the words for some other animals: ayam [chicken], bebek [duck], kucing [cat], beruang [bear], he starts combining them with guling. I told him many times that there exists only babi guling [suckling pig] and kambing guling [grilled goat] as dishes in Indonesia. But yeah, he doesn’t care -.-.

Now, he even uses the phrases to express something rolling, as in kucing guling [rolling cat] and beruang guling [rolling bear] (even though these are grammatically incorrect! :p), after I told him that guling is also related to the verb roll, berguling.


That’s it for now. But that is enough to make me proud actually :). He’s determined to learn more so that he could surprise my parents later, just as I’m determined to learn German :D. So, let’s see… It is not a fair competition though, since Indonesian language is much simpler than German!

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