Although there are also more 250 native languages spoken throughout the archipelago, Indonesia’s national language is Bahasa Indonesia, a form of Bahasa Malay. Because it’s written in Roman script, has no tones and uses a fairly straightforward grammar, it’s relatively easy to learn.

Pronunciation

a as in a cross between father and cup

e sometimes as in along; or as in pay; or as in get; or sometimes omitted (selamat pronounced “slamat”)

i either as in boutique; or as in pit

o either as in hot; or as in cold

u as in boot

ai as in fine

au as in how

c as in cheap

g always hard as in girl

k hard, as in English, except at the end of the word, when you should stop just short of pronouncing it.

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