Indonesians Love Abbreviations

Many will tell you that the Indonesian language is not a difficult -one to learn, and that may be true, if this particular language was not intertwined with many of the other 700+ languages of Indonesia.

For the student of the Indonesian language, you also have to learn a considerable amount of the local language, or you will never be able to comprehend fully what is going on around you.

Another challenge with language learning in Indonesia is the amount of abbreviations they use. Students often see a word, use it regularly, and never know it’s an abbreviation. The real meaning of what they are saying is hidden to them. Take the below abbreviations that bypassed us for over 1 1/2 years.

We had thought that the word “beradat” had a reference to one that was faithful and loyal to their “adat,” or cultural norms. The real meaning, however, is a little different. The word “beradat” is often used by the government to describe the people in a given community, in an effort to remind them of the standards they want to maintain for their village or city.

“Beradat” can be translated as follows:
BerBersih, which means “clean”
A–Aman, which means “safe”
DaDamai, which means “peaceful”
TTertib, which means neat; disciplinary; polite; courteous

Another phrase that caused us confusion was the words Indonesians use for “airport.” Indonesians use the two words “Bandar Udara” or the abbreviation “bandara” to refer to an airport.
Bandar–Harbor, port

These are just two examples that can easily illustrate the confusion language learners experience. As with any language, it takes years to learn the real meanings of many phrases and expressions. Studying from books is important, but until you talk at length with people, make a lot of mistakes, and ask a lot of questions, you will never become fluent in the language.