Comparison of Standard Malay and Indonesian

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The Indonesian and Standard Malay forms of the Malay language are generally mutually intelligible, but differ in spelling, pronunciation, and vocabulary. The differences can range from those mutually unintelligible with one another to those having a closer familial resemblance. The regionalized and localized varieties of Malay can become a catalyst for intercultural conflict, especially in higher education.[1]


To non-native speakers both varieties may seem identical, but to native speakers, the differences are noticeable through diction and accent. These differences often lead to incomprehension when used in formal conversation or written communication.[citation needed] They also affect broadcasting business in relation to foreign language subtitling, for example DVD movies or cable TV subscriptions. In order to reach a wider audience, sometimes both Indonesian and Malay subtitles are displayed in a movie with other language subtitles. Another example is Malaysian TV providing Malay subtitling on Indonesian sinetrons (TV drama) aired in Malaysia.[2]

The Malay language in Indonesia and Malaysia also differs in recognition and general perception by the people and government of the two countries. Ignorance of these subtleties may result in misconceptions.

The term "Malay" (Bahasa Melayu) in Indonesia and Malaysia invites different perceptions. To Malaysians, the Malay language is generally the national language of Malaysia, Bahasa Malaysia being the name for the Malaysian standardized form of Malay. Between 1986 and 2007, the term Bahasa Melayu was used instead of Bahasa Malaysia, until the latter was reinstated, in order to instil a sense of belonging among Malaysians of all races, rather than just Malays.[3] Therefore, there is no clear distinction between the use of the term Malay (Bahasa Melayu) and the national language of Malaysia (Bahasa Malaysia). In Brunei, where Malay is also an official language, the language is known as Bahasa Melayu and in English as "Malay".[4]

In Indonesia, however, there is a clear distinction between "Malay" (Bahasa Melayu) and the "Indonesian" (Bahasa Indonesia). Indonesian is the national language which serves as the unifying language of Indonesia. The term "Malay" is reserved for the language indigenous to the Malay people. Thus, "Malay" is considered a regional language in Indonesia, enjoying the same status as Javanese, Bataknese, Sundanese, Buginese, Balinese and others. Moreover, to some Indonesians, the term "Malay" is more often associated with Malaysia and the Malaysian national language.

In Malaysia, the terms "Indonesian Malay" and "Malaysian Malay" are sometimes used for Indonesian and Malay as spoken in Malaysia. In Indonesia, "Indonesian Malay" refers to the Malay spoken by the Malay people in Indonesia, that is, to Malay as a regional language in Sumatra, though it[clarification needed] is rarely used. Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Melayu are used interchangeably in reference to Malay in Malaysia.


Before the 20th century, Malay was written in a modified form of the Arabic alphabet known as Jawi. During the 20th century, Malay written with Roman letters, known as Rumi, almost completely replaced Jawi in everyday life. The romanisations originally used in Malaya (now part of Malaysia) and the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) reflected their positions as British and Dutch possessions respectively. In Malaya, the romanisation of Malay, devised by Richard Wilkinson[5] was influenced by English, whereas in the Dutch East Indies, the system devised by C A Van Ophuijsen was influenced by Dutch.[6]

As a result, in Indonesia, the vowel in the English word 'moon' was formerly represented oe, as in Dutch, although the official spelling of this sound was changed to u in 1947.

Similarly, until 1972, the initial consonant of the English 'chin' was represented in Malaysia as ch, whereas in Indonesia, it continued to follow Dutch and used tj. Hence the word for 'grandchild' used to be written as chuchu in Malaysia and tjoetjoe in Indonesia, until a unified spelling system was introduced in 1972 (known in Indonesia as Ejaan Yang Disempurnakan or the 'Perfected Spelling') which removed most differences between the two varieties: Malay ch and Indonesian tj became c: hence cucu.

Indonesia abandoned the spelling dj (for the consonant at the beginning of the word 'Jakarta') to conform to the j already in use in Malaysia, while the old Indonesian j for the semivowel at the beginning of the English 'young', was replaced with y as in Malaysia. Likewise, the velar fricative which occurs in many Arabic loanwords, which used to be written 'ch' in Indonesian, became kh in both languages.

However, oe was retained in some proper names, such as the name of the first President, Sukarno (written as Soekarno), and his successor Suharto, (written as Soeharto). The ch and dj letter combinations are still encountered in names such as Achmad and Djojo (pronounced as Akhmad and Joyo respectively), although the post-1972 spelling is now favoured.

Although the representations of speech sounds are now largely identical in the Indonesian and Malay standards, a number of minor spelling differences remain, usually for historical reasons. For instance, the word for 'money' is written as wang in Malaysia, but uang in Indonesia, the word for 'try' is written as cuba in Malaysia, but coba in Indonesia, the word for 'because' is written as kerana in Malaysia, but karena in Indonesia, while the word for 'cake' is written as kuih in Malaysia, but kue in Indonesia.

One notable difference in punctuation between the two languages is the use of different decimal marks; Indonesian, influenced by Dutch, uses the decimal comma,[7] whereas Malay, influenced by English, uses the decimal point.[8]


Pronunciation also tends to be very different, with East Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia pronouncing words in a form called Bahasa Baku,[citation needed] where the words are pronounced as spelt and enunciation tends to be clipped, staccato and faster than on the Malay Peninsula, which is spoken at a more languorous pace. Many vowels are pronounced (and were formerly spelt) differently in Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, and Sumatra: tujuh is pronounced (and was spelt) tujoh, pilih as pileh, etc., and many final a's tend to be pronounced as schwas; [e] and [o] are also allophones of /i/ and /u/ in closed final syllables in peninsular Malaysian, Singaporean, and Sumatran varieties of Malay.

Speakers of Malay in Peninsular Malaysia tend to speak at a more flowing pace, while words that end with the letter "a" often come out as a schwa (/ə/). Indonesian speakers speak in clipped staccato tones, their "r"s are more markedly trilled (rolled r), and all words are pronounced exactly as they are spelled.


Vocabulary differences[edit]

Indonesian differs from Standard Malay in the quantity of loanwords from Javanese, Dutch, and other languages. For example, the word for 'post office' in Malaysia is "pejabat pos" (in Indonesia this means 'post officer'), whereas in Indonesia it is "kantor pos", from the Dutch word for office, kantoor. There are also some Portuguese influences: in Indonesia, Christmas is known as "Natal", whereas Malaysia uses "Krismas", derived from English (or in some cases also "Natal", due to Indonesian influence). Pronunciation of some loanwords in Standard Malay follows English, while some in Indonesian follows Dutch, for example Malay "televisyen" (from English: television) and Indonesian "televisi" (from Dutch: televisie), the "-syen" and "-si" also prevail in some other words. There are also instances where the Malay version derives from English pronunciation while the Indonesian version takes its cue from Latin. The Latin preference of the (older) Indonesian intellectuals in these instances may be ascribed to the influence of their classical-oriented education when Gymnasium schools were established during the Dutch colonial period : compare Malay kualiti, kuantiti, majoriti, minoriti and universiti with Indonesian kualitas, kuantitas, mayoritas, minoritas and universitas.

Some words which are spelt the same in both languages may even carry entirely different meanings in the other language, potentially leading to humorous or embarrassing situations: while baja means "steel" in Indonesian, in Malay it means "fertiliser". Also, whereas the Indonesian word butuh means "require" or "need", in Malaysia it is a vulgar slang term equivalent to "cunt/cock". Conversely, where the word "banci" seems innocuous enough in Malaysia ("census"), in Indonesia it is a derogatory term for "transvestite".

The relatively large share of Islamic (Arabic or Persian) loan words shared by Malay and Indonesian often poses no difficulty in comprehension and usage, although some forms may have developed a (slightly) different meaning or have become obsolete either in Malay or in Indonesian, e.g. khidmat, wakil (see below).

Vocabulary comparison[edit]

English Malay Indonesian
abolition pemansuhan penghapusan, abolisi
abortion pengguguran aborsi, pengguguran (kandungan)
abroad luar negara luar negeri
accessibility kebolehcapaian, ketercapaian keterjangkauan, ketercapaian, aksesibilitas
account (bank, bills) akaun rekening from Dutch – only used in the bank, akun used in all term of account excluding bank account
accountability kebertanggungjawapan, akauntabliti akuntabilitas, pertanggungjawaban
accountant akauntan akuntan
accounting perakaunan akuntansi
accurate tepat tepat, akurat influenced by Dutch accuraat
administration pentadbiran administrasi
after selepas, setelah sesudah, setelah (also used in Malay to indicate consecutive actions)
afternoon petang sore (02 pm to 04 pm) – petang (04 pm to 06 pm)
agent ejen, agen agen
air force tentera udara tentara angkatan udara
airport lapangan terbang ('airfield' in Indonesian) bandar udara (bandara)
Algeria Algeria Aljazair from Arabic al-Jazā'ir
alliance perikatan, persekutuan, pakatan aliansi influenced by Dutch alliantie, persekutuan
alloy pancalogam, aloi aloi, logam campuran
apartment pangsapuri, rumah pangsa, rumah kondo (only for 'condominium') apartemen influenced by Dutch appartement, rumah susun (rusun)apartment for poor family, kondominium
application (software) perisian penggunaan, aplikasi aplikasi
architecture seni bina arsitektur influenced by Dutch architectuur
archive arkib arsip from Dutch archief
area kawasan area, kawasan
armed forces tentera angkatan bersenjata, tentara
army tentera darat tentara angkatan darat
assembly majlis, perhimpunan (from the root verb 'himpun' meaning 'to gather/assemble') majelis
assets aset harta, aset, aktiva from Dutch activa
association persatuan asosiasi from Dutch associatie, persatuan, perkumpulan
assumption andaian, anggapan asumsi, anggapan
astronaut angkasawan astronot
Athens Athens Athena influenced by Dutch Athene or from native Greek Athina
athletics (sport) olahraga ('sport' in Indonesian) atletik
auction lelong from Portuguese leilão lelang also from leilão
August Ogos Agustus from Dutch augustus
auntie makcik (also used in Riau Malay dialect in Indonesia), emak saudara, ibu saudara bibi, tante from Dutch
autobiography autobiografi autobiografi – otobiografi is a substandard spelling
automatic automatik (formerly otomatik) otomatis derived from Dutch pronunciation of automatisch
autonomy autonomi otonomi
awkward janggal; kekok (of gesture) aneh, janggal; canggung, kikuk (of gesture)
backpack beg sandang literally "sling bag" ransel from Dutch
bag beg tas from Dutch
baseband jalur asas baseband, pita dasar
basin (wash basin/sink) besen wastafel from Dutch
basketball bola keranjang bola basket
because kerana, sebab karena, sebab
bed katil matras influenced by Dutch matras, tempat tidur, ranjang, kasur
Belgium Belgium Belgia influenced by Dutch België
Belgrade Belgrade Beograd
belt (of a seat) tali keledar sabuk
bicycle basikal sepeda influenced by French velocipede
bill (legislation) rang undang-undang rancangan undang-undang, legislasi
billboard pelekat, tempelan baliho, papan iklan, papan reklame from Dutch reclame (advertisement)
billion seribu juta, bilion miliar from Dutch miljard
binary perduaan biner from Dutch binaire
bishop biskop, bisyop uskup
board (company) lembaga dewan
bonnet, hood (of a car) bonet, bumbung, hud kap from Dutch
boot, trunk (of a car) but bagasi
Britain Britain Britania influenced by Dutch Brittannië, Inggris more commonly used
Brussels Brussels Brussel influenced by Dutch
Bucharest Bucharest Bukarest
bucket; pail baldi ember from Dutch emmer
bus bas bus, bis substandard, influenced by Dutch pronunciation
bus station stesen bas terminal bus
bus stop perhentian bas pemberhentian bus, halte bus from Dutch bushalte
business perniagaan, bisnes bisnis (less commonly used: perniagaan)
Cairo Kaherah from Arabic Al-Qahirah Kairo
Cambodia Kemboja Kamboja
Cameroon Cameroon Kamerun
campaign kempen kampanye from Dutch campagne (a French loanword)
can (to be able) boleh, dapat dapat, bisa
cancer kanser, barah kanker from Dutch
capacitor pemuat, kapasitor kondensator, kapasitor
capital city ibu negara ibu kota
car kereta
(means carriage in Indonesian, commonly used as a shorthand for kereta api, which means train. Malay followed English derivation of car which was a contraction of horseless carriage)
mobil from Dutch/mid-English automobile
card kad kartu from Dutch kaart
career kerjaya, karier karier
Caribbean Caribbean Karibia
carrot lobak merah wortel from Dutch
case kes kasus, hal
cash wang tunai uang tunai, kas
cashier juruwang kasir from Dutch kassier, juru uang
cavalry pasukan berkuda kavaleri, pasukan berkuda
cement simen semen
censor tapisan (means "filter" in Indonesian) sensor
census banci sensus, cacah
centipede lipan kelabang, lipan
central pusat pusat, sentral, tengah
chaos (theory) teori kekacauan teori chaos
chilli cili, lada ('pepper' in Indonesian), cabai (used in the northern states of Malaysia) cabai, cabe, lombok besar
China China Tionghoa (Chinese people),
Tiongkok archaic official, China,
Cina still in common use but discouraged due to possible racist connotations,
Christmas Krismas, Natal Natal from Portuguese
cinema panggung wayang bergambar (more popularly abbreviated as pawagam), panggung wayang bioskop from Dutch bioscoop, sinema
circuit litar sirkuit
city bandar, bandaraya big city, kota kota
civil awam, sivil sipil
claim tuntutan klaim
clarification penjernihan (to make something, e.g. water, clear in Indonesian) klarifikasi, penjelasan
clause (legal) fasal ayat, klausul
club (association) kelab klub, perkumpulan infrequent
coach (carriage) koc gerbong
coat kot jas from Dutch jas
cockroach lipas lipas, kecoa from the Chinese Min Nan ka chuah
college kolej, maktab kampus, kolese, kolegium
Cologne Cologne Köln, Koeln
Colombia Colombia Kolombia
comment ulasan, komen komentar from Dutch commentaar
commission suruhanjaya komisi
commissioner pesuruhjaya komisaris from Dutch commissaris,
committee jawatankuasa komite
commonwealth komanwel persemakmuran
Comoros Comoros Komoro
company syarikat perusahaan, firma, maskapai from Dutch maatschappij – almost exclusively used to refer to airline companies, i.e. maskapai penerbangan
compiler penyusun penyusun, kompilator
complaint aduan aduan, keluhan, komplain
conclusion kesimpulan; konklusi (rare) kesimpulan, konklusi
condensation pemeluwapan, pengembunan, pencecairan kondensasi, pengembunan
conference persidangan konferensifrom Dutch conferentie, sidang
confirmation pengesahan konfirmasi, pengesahan of a document, kepastian of a decision
conflict pertikaian konflik, pertentangan, pertikaian
Congo Congo Kongo
conservation (movement) pemuliharaan; konservasi (rare) konservasi, pelestarian (of animals and plants)
constitution of a country perlembagaan undang-undang dasar influenced by Dutch grondwet ("basic law"), konstitusi from Dutch constitutie
construction pembinaan (commonly used: pembangunan (of building), pembinaan (of moral)), konstruksi
consumption perbelanjaan konsumsi, pemakaian, penggunaan
contamination pencemaran pencemaran, kontaminasi
continuous selanjar berkesinambungan, berlanjut, kontinu
conversion penukaran (mean exchange in Indonesia) konversi, perubahan
corporation perbadanan korporasi
corruption rasuah; korupsi (rare) korupsi, rasuah (non-standard)
Costa Rica Costa Rica Kosta Rika
counter kaunter loket from Dutch, konter/kaunter non-standard
country negara negara, negeri in Malaysia, negeri usually refers to a state within a federation
court mahkamah pengadilan, mahkamah only refers to the institution
cracker keropok kerupuk
criminal jenayah ahli pidana, penjahat, kriminal
Croatia Croatia Kroasia
crucial genting krusial, penting, genting
Cuba Cuba Kuba
cupboard almari from Portuguese armário lemari also from armário
current (adjective, of time) semasa saat ini, kini, terkini, aktual from Dutch actueel
current affairs hal ehwal semasa aktualitas, peristiwa terkini
curtain langsir, tirai tirai, gorden from Dutch gordijn
customs (authority) kastam pabean refers to the administrative institution, bea dan cukai (bea-cukai) lit. tariff-and-tax, duty
cute comel imut, menggemaskan, lucu
Cyprus Cyprus Siprus
Czech Republic Republik Czech Republik Ceko, Ceko, (Republik) Ceska substandard
dandruff kelemumur ketombe
December Disember Desember influenced by Dutch december
decimal perpuluhan desimal
decree dekri surat keputusan, dekrit from Dutch decreet
degree (of temperature) darjah derajat
delicious, tasty lazat, sedap, enak lezat, enak, sedap
democratic demokratik demokratis from Dutch demokratisch
note: "democratic republic" (in country names) translates as republik demokratik, such as in Republik Demokratik Kongo (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
department jabatan('occupation' in Indonesian) departemen, jurusan (for department in university)
departure pelepasan keberangkatan, kepergian
depression (psychological) kemurungan depresi
deputy timbalan wakil, deputi
design reka bentuk desain, rancangan
detail terperinci detil, rinci
dialect loghat dialek, logat
detection pengesanan pelacakan, deteksi
different – difference beza, berbeza – perbezaan beda, berbeda – perbedaan
diocese kawasan uskup, keuskupan keuskupan
director pengarah direktur from Dutch (and French) directeur,
sutradara (of a film) from Sanskrit (through Javanese)
discount diskaun, rebat, potongan harga diskon, rabat, potongan harga, korting from Dutch, less frequent
discussion perbincangan, diskusi pembicaraan, diskusi
disinfectant penyahjangkit disinfektan, obat pemusnah, sucihama
domestic dalam negara dalam negeri, domestik
driver pemandu sopir from French chauffeur through Dutch, pengemudi formal
driver's license (U.S.)/
driving licence (UK)
lesen memandu surat izin mengemudi (SIM)
drugs (illegal) dadah colloquial use in Indonesia means "goodbye". narkoba an acronym for NARKotika dan OBat-obatan terlArang (narcotics and illegal drugs),
NAPZA less frequent – an acronym for NArkotika, Psikotropika dan Zat-zat Adiktif (narcotics, psychotropics, and addictive chemical substances)
Dutch East Indies Hindia Timur Belanda Hindia-Belanda
duty (economics) duti, cukai bea, cukai
e-mail e-mel surel standard, shortened of surat elektronik (electronic mail), email rarely used in everyday spelling, often used on online spelling (e.g. website-based registration or social account)
Easter Easter, Paskah strictly used for Jewish Passover Paskah from Portuguese Pascoa
Ecuador Ecuador Ekuador
editor penyunting editor, penyunting, redaktur from French rédacteur through Dutch – refers to editors of mass media, esp. newspapers, magazines, etc.
editorial (board) kakitangan editorial redaksi from Dutch redactie
effectiveness keberkesanan keampuhan, keefektifan, efektivitas from Dutch effectiviteit
efficiency kecekapan efisiensi, kedayagunaan, kemangkusan
Eid ul-Fitr Hari Raya Aidilfitri Hari Raya Idulfitri – Idul Fitri substandard spelling, but common, Lebaran colloquial – from Javanese
eight lapan used as colloquial abbreviation in Indonesian delapan used in Malaysia before the spelling reform
elasticity (economy) keanjalan bingkas, elastisitas
electricity tenaga elektrik lit. electric energy listrik, kelistrikan, setrum from Dutch stroom
embargo (political) sekatan boikot, embargo
emergency kecemasan used for anxiety or "too anxious" (condition) in Indonesian. darurat from Arabic – also used in Malaysia to express a state of emergency
emperor maharaja kaisar from Dutch keizer, maharaja from Sanskrit
empire empayar kekaisaran, imperium
enamel enamel email from Dutch emaille
energy tenaga energi, tenaga
engine enjin mesin also translates as machine in English
England negeri Inggeris Inggris
eraser getah pemadam penghapus
erosion hakisan pengikisan, erosi
escalator tangga gerak eskalator, tangga berjalan
estimation jangkaan, anggaran perkiraan, dugaan, estimasi
Europe Eropah Eropa, Europa
evacuation pemindahan pengungsian, evakuasi
evaluation penilaian penilaian, evaluasi
excess lebihan kelebihan, berlebihan, ekses
excretion perkumuhan ekskresi, pembuangan kotoran
execution (death sentence) hukuman mati eksekusi, penghukuman mati
exhaust (pipe) ekzos knalpot from Dutch, in which it also means "muffler"
exploration penjelajahan, eksplorasi eksplorasi, penjelajahan
export eksport ekspor
expose pendedahan paparan, ekspos
extinct pupus padam (of flame or light), punah (of species), pupus (loss of hope)
faculty fakulti fakultas, fakulteit (obsolete, from Dutch)
facility kemudahan, fasiliti kemudahan, fasilitas
faction (politics) puak fraksi from Dutch fractie
factory kilang ('refinery' in Indonesian) pabrik from Dutch fabriek
federal persekutuan federal
federation persekutuan (related to "alliance" in Indonesian) federasi from Dutch federatie, serikat
fermentation fermentasi, peragian fermentasi, peragian, penapaian
financial kewangan keuangan, finansial from Dutch financieel
Finland Finland Finlandia
firefighter squad bomba pemadam kebakaran lit. fire extinguisher, branwir from Dutch brandweer (fire defense)
flash drive pemacu kilat flash drive, penggerak kilat
floor, level (storey) tingkat may be used in Indonesian to express the number of storeys/levels a building has, e.g. a 5-storey building = gedung bertingkat 5, or to emphasize British floor numbering, e.g. tingkat satu means first floor (UK), second floor (US) in both languages, aras (used to emphasize American floor numbering, e.g. aras dua = tingkat satu lantai also refers to floor as ground surface in both languages, emphasizes American floor numbering, tingkat emphasizes British floor numbering, e.g. lantai dua = tingkat satu
football bola sepak sepakbola
form (document) borang formulir from Dutch formulier, borang
free (of charge) percuma in Indonesian means "worthless" gratis from Dutch, cuma-cuma, cecuma
fungus kulat, fungus fungi (commonly has got misconception as: jamur)
furniture perabot rumah, perkakas rumah mebel from Dutch meubelen, furnitur, perabot rumah tangga
fusion pelakuran fusi, penggabungan, peleburan
gangster samseng geng, preman from Dutch vrijman (lit. free-man), gangster from English
garage garaj garasi influenced by Dutch pronunciation
garrison garrison garnisun from Dutch garnizoen
gear gear roda gigi influenced by Dutch tandwiel, literally "tooth wheel"
gearbox kotak gear persneling from Dutch versnelling, girboks, transmisi
general (military) jeneral jenderal from Dutch generaal
ginger halia jahe
Global Positioning System Sistem Kedudukan Sejagat Sistem Pemosisian Global
goal keeper penjaga gol/penjaga gawang kiper, penjaga gawang
golf club (stick) kayu golf stik golf, pemukul golf, tongkat golf
government kerajaan
derived from raja (king) – used in Malaysia and Brunei – in Indonesian means "kingdom"
derived from perintah (order/instruction) – also used in Singapore, which, like Singapore, is a republic
governor gabenor, Yang di-Pertua Negeri (in Malaysian states) gubernur from Dutch gouverneur
gradation pemeringkatan gradasi, pemberian tingkat
graduate siswazah, sarjana lulusan, sarjana
grandfather datuk kakek
Greece Greece of recent use, Yunani Yunani from Arabic Yūnān يُونَان
gross financial kasar bruto from Dutch
group sekumpulan, kumpulan kelompok, grup from Dutch pronunciation of groep
guarantee jaminan jaminan, garansi from Dutch pronunciation of garantie
hammer tukul palu, martil from Portugue martelo
head office ibu pejabat "ibu" also means "mother" or "ma'am" in both languages. kantor pusat "kantor" – from Dutch kantoor (office)
headscarf, hijab tudung kerudung, jilbab though these words have different meaning
healthy sihat sehat
herb herba jamu often understood as traditional potion made from rhizomes, also means "guest" ("tamu") and "treat the guest" ("menjamu").
hexadecimal perenambelasan heksadesimal
hospital hospital rumah sakit influenced by Dutch ziekenhuis ("house of the sick") – This term is still used in Brunei, but in Malaysia, "hospital" has replaced the term completely since the 1960s.
Hungary Hungary Hungaria, Hongaria substandard, influenced by Dutch Hongarije
hybrid (biology) kacukan blasteran, hibrida
I saya, aku saya, aku, gue/gua (slang, informal; from Chinese dialects "ua")
ice ais es
ice cream ais krim es krim
Iceland Iceland Islandia
image citra, imej (of reputation), gambar (pictorial image) citra (of reputation), gambar (pictorial image)
immigration imigresen imigrasi from Dutch immigratie
import import impor
impotence mati pucuk, impotensi, lemah syahwat impotensi from Dutch impotentie, lemah syahwat colloquial
impotent kemandulan impotensi, kemandulan
incineration penunuan pembakaran, insinerasi
Indian Ocean Lautan Hindi Samudra Hindia
inductor peraruh, induktor (rare) induktor
information maklumat informasi, from Dutch informatie, maklumat, penerangan
injection suntikan suntikan, injeksi
ink dakwat from Arabic tinta from Dutch tinte
installment (payment) ansuran angsuran, cicilan
instant segera (means "soon" in Indonesia) seketika, instan
insurance insurans asuransi from Dutch assurantie
intelligence (spying) risikan (means 'secret investigation' in Indonesia) intelijen
international antarabangsa internasional, antarnegara, (sometimes used: mancanegara from Javanese meaning: foreign land)
internet café kafe internet, kafe cyber warnet an acronym for "WARung interNET" (internet shop/café)
intervention campur tangan, intervensi campur tangan, intervensi
introspection kaji diri, introspeksi (rare) introspeksi, mawas diri
invasion penyerangan, penjajahan, invasi invasi, penaklukan
investment pelaburan investasi, penanaman modal
Iraq Iraq Irak
Ireland Ireland Irlandia
irrigation pengairan irigasi, pengairan
Italy Itali Italia from Italian
Japan Jepun from Chinese dialect Jepang, Jepun (archaic)
Jordan (country) Jordan Yordania from Dutch Jordanië
journalist wartawan wartawan, jurnalis
July Julai Juli from Dutch juli
June Jun Juni from Dutch juni
ketchup kicap saus tomat from French sauce tomate
lane lorong (mean alley in Indonesian) lajur
lawyer peguam advokat from Dutch advocaat, pengacara (means 'master of ceremony' in Malay.)
Lebanon Lubnan from Arabic Lebanon, Libanon influenced by Dutch
legislative perundangan, legislatif legislatif
liabilitity liabiliti kewajiban
licence lesen izin,
lisensi from Dutch licentie
lift, elevator lif lift
liquidity (economy) kecairan likuiditas
Lisbon Lisbon Lisboa from Portuguese, Lisabon influenced by Dutch Lissabon
list senarai daftar
local tempatan lokal, setempat
Luxembourg Luxembourg Luksemburg influenced by Dutch/German Luxemburg
Macau Macau Makau
Macedonia, Republic of Republik Macedonia Republik Makedonia
magistrate majistret hakim from Arabic حَكِم – used in Malaysian to refer to judges, magistrat less common
Maldives Maldives Maladewa
male lelaki, laki-laki, jantan (for animals, depending on the context, it can mean masculine or used as a derogatory term on men) laki-laki, pria, lelaki, jantan (on animals, used on men to describe masculinity)
malfunction kerosakan, malfungsi, pincang tugas kerusakan, malafungsi
malpractice penyelewengan (mean "misappropriation" in Indonesian) malapraktik
management pengurusan manajemen
manager pengurus manajer
manufacturing pengilangan manufaktur
March (month) Mac Maret influenced by Dutch maart
mass jisim massa, kelembaman (inertia)
mathematics matematik, ilmu hisab matematika, ilmu hitung, ilmu hisab only used in islamic text book
matter jirim materi
mattress tilam kasur, matras
mean (verb) bererti berarti
mediation pengantaraan penengah, mediasi
medicine ubat obat
memory card kad ingatan/kad memori kartu memori
mental arithmetic congak aritmetika cepat, mencongak
Mexico Mexico Meksiko
mile batu (mean "stone" in Indonesian) mil
military tentera, ketenteraan, militari kemiliteran (militer from French militaire through Dutch militair), ketentaraan
minibus bas mini bis mini, minibus
minute minit menit
mobile phone, cellphone telefon bimbit telepon selular (ponsel), telepon genggam, handphone (HP) (colloquial)
Monaco Monaco Monako
Monday Isnin Senin
money wang, duit uang, duit (colloquial)
Morocco Maghribi from Arabic Maroko
mortgage gadai janji hipotek from Dutch hypotheek, gadai
Moscow Moscow Moskwa, Moskow
motorcycle motosikal sepeda motor lit. "motorized bicycle" – influenced by Dutch motorfiets, motor (informal)
Mozambique Mozambique Mozambik
Mrs. Puan Ibu, Nyonya (Ny.)
music muzik musik
naked bogel, telanjang telanjang, bugil (colloquial)
natural semulajadi alami, natural
navigation pandu arah, navigasi navigasi
navy tentera laut angkatan laut
negotiation perundingan perundingan, negosiasi
network rangkaian (means series in Indonesian) jaringan
New Zealand New Zealand Selandia Baru
newspaper surat khabar coined from two Arabic words: ṣūrat – صورة / صورت (form, appearance) and khabar خبر (news) surat kabar (more formal – lit. news letter), koran (from French courant through Dutch, become Krant in modern Dutch, but Koerant in Afrikaans)
Nicosia Nicosia Nikosia
nil nil nol from Dutch nul
noisy bising, kecoh in Indonesian means "disturb" or "distract", memekak berisik, ribut, ramai, bising
noon tengah hari siang
Norway Norway Norwegia
number nombor angka, nomor – nomer substandard spelling from Dutch/German nummer
nurse jururawat perawat, suster from Dutch zuster
ocean lautan samudra, lautan
Oceania Oceania Oseania
octal perlapanan oktal
office pejabat kantor (from Dutch kantoor)
officer pegawai, kaki tangan (a negative connotation usually means accomplice in criminal activity in Indonesian) pejabat
official (adj.) rasmi (from Arabo-Persian rasmi رَسمِي) resmi (also from rasmi)
Olympic Olimpik Olimpiade
opposition pembangkang oposisi, pembangkang (in mean of "defiance")
option pilihan, opsyen (rare) pilihan, opsi
orange (colour) jingga, oren jingga, oranye (from Dutch oranje)
orange (fruit) oren, limau jeruk, limau
order order, perintah orde (from Dutch), perintah
organization pertubuhan, organisasi organisasi
oscillation ayunan osilasi, ayunan
oven ketuhar oven
Pacific Ocean Lautan Pasifik, Lautan Teduh Samudra Pasifik, Lautan Pasifik
Palestine Palestin Palestina
papaya (buah) betik (buah) pepaya
Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea Papua Guinea Baru, Papua Nugini
parallel selari paralel
parliament parlimen parlemen (from Franco-Dutch parlement)
party (political) parti partai (from Dutch partij)
passport pasport paspor
patient pesakit pasien
patrol ronda patroli (for police and military) (from Dutch patrolie), ronda (for civilian)
pavement, sidewalk jalan pinggir, jalur jalan untuk pejalan kaki, laluan jalan kaki, kaki lima pinggir jalan, trotoar (from Franco-Dutch trottoir)
penis zakar from Arabic ذَكَر "male"- this word is extremely vulgar in Indonesian, "buah zakar" means testicles, batang lelaki, konek (slang) alat kelamin laki-laki, kemaluan lelaki, burung (vulgar), titit (children's slang like "pee-pee"), kontol (slang, extremely vulgar)
percent peratus persen, perseratus
perfume haruman, minyak wangi parfum from Dutch, minyak wangi
periodic berkala periodik, berkala
Persia Parsi Persia
pharmacy farmasi apotek (from Dutch apotheek), farmasi (usually for medicine manufacturers)
photograph gambar, foto fotografi (photograph), foto (literally means photo)
physics fizik fisika
pickpocket noun penyeluk saku copet (contraction of colong dompet- wallet thief), pencopet
pipe paip pipa
pirate (maritime) lanun bajak laut, perompak (perompak in Malay, means "robber")
platform (train) platform peron from Dutch perron
Poland Poland Polandia
police polis (mean "insurance policy" (polis asuransi) in Indonesian) polisi from Dutch politie
pollution pencemaran pencemaran, polusi
portion sebahagian porsi, sebagian (a portion of...)
post code poskod kode pos
potential keupayaan potensial, daya berkemampuan
Prague Prague Praha (also used in Malay)
prayer (Islam) solat, sembahyang salat, shalat, sholat (from Arabic, 'sh' is usually pronounced as 's'), sembahyang
prayer room (Islam) surau surau, musala, mushollah (from Arabic, 'sh' is usually pronounced as 's')
precipitation (meteorology) kerpasan curah hujan, presipitasi
prediction ramalan prediksi, ramalan, prakiraan (not perkiraan estimation)
pregnant mengandung, hamil (formal, from Arabic حَامِل), berbadan dua lit. "two bodied", bunting for animals mengandung, hamil, berbadan dua, bunting (informal)
premature pramatang prematur, dini
preposition kata sendi naman preposisi, kata depan
press media massa, surat khabar (see above) pers (from Dutch), media massa
Private Limited Company Sendirian Berhad
abbreviated as Sdn Bhd (suffix), "sendirian" alone means "alone"
Perseroan Terbatas
abbreviated as PT(prefix)
privatization penswastaan privatisasi, swastanisasi, penswastaan
producer produsen pengeluar, produsen, penghasil
product keluaran produk (from English and Dutch product), hasil, keluaran more specific term for outcome
programming (computer) pemrograman pemrograman, pengaturcaraan
property harta properti
propulsion perejangan propulsi, pendorong, penggerak
prostitute pelacur, perempuan sundal (vulgar) pelacur, Wanita Tuna Susila (WTS) (Sanskrit, pronounced 'way-tay-es', i.e. "moral-less women"), Pekerja Seks Komersial (PSK) (formal, pronounced 'pay-es-ka' (commercial sex workers)), perek (slang)
prostitution pelacuran prostitusi, pelacuran
province wilayah (used in Indonesian to mean 'area'), daerah (used in Indonesian to mean 'area') provinsi (from Dutch provincie)
publication penerbitan penerbitan, publikasi, terbitan
pulse denyut denyut, pulsa
push, to (door) tolak (used less primarily in Indonesian to mean 'subtract', it also means 'to refuse/reject', also common meaning in Malay when used in arithmetics) dorong (means "to push" in Malay, but often used to mean "to support")
queue (line) barisan (mean line "formation" in Indonesian) antre
rabbit arnab (from Arabic) kelinci
Random-Access Memory (RAM) Ingatan Capaian Rawak Memori Akses Acak
rape rogol perkosa
raspberry rasberi frambus, frambosen (from Dutch framboos)
ratio nisbah rasio, nisbah, perbandingan
Read-Only Memory (ROM) Ingatan Baca Sahaja Memori Hanya Baca
real estate hartanah realestat,
properti tanah
receipt resit, penerimaan kuitansi, kwitansi (from Dutch kwitantie), bon from Dutch, struk
recession (economy) kemelesetan resesi, kelesuan (ekonomi)
reclamation tebus guna reklamasi
recruitment pergerakan, pengambilan rekrutmen, perekrutan
refraction pembiasan pembiasan, refraksi
refrigerator peti sejuk lit. cool box (rarely used in Indonesian) lemari es, lemari pendingin, kulkas (from Dutch koelkast)
religion agama, ugama (widely used before the 80s) agama, religi
renovation pengubahsuaian renovasi, pembaharuan
reproduction pembiakan reproduksi,
pembiakan (also mean breeding)
research kajian(mean research or investigation result in Indonesian) penelitian, riset
responsibility tanggungjawab tanggung jawab, pertanggungjawaban, responsibilitas
resistor perintang resistor, hambatan
restaurant kedai makan lit. "eating shop", restoran rumah makan lit. "eating house", warung makan lit. "eating café", restoran
retailing peruncitan ritel, eceran
ring (mathematics) gelanggang ring, gelanggang
rob rompak (Indonesian for "to commit piracy") rampok, rampas
Rome Rom Roma
room bilik (usually used to mean "compartment" in Indonesian) kamar (from Dutch kamer), ruang (Javanese, for storage areas etc.)
roundabout (traffic) bulatan
e.g. Bulatan DBP in Kuala Lumpur
pusing keliling (in Brunei)
e.g. Bundaran HI in Jakarta
routing penghalaan routing
royal diraja kerajaan (in Malaysia and Brunei means "kingdom" or "government")
rubber getah may also mean gum or sap or resin in both languages, also figure of speech for "cause of bad deed" karet
rumour khabar angin, desas-desus rumor, desas-desus, kabar angin, kabar burung
salty masin asin
Sanskrit Sanskrit Sanskerta
sauce sos saus
school (Islamic) sekolah pondok madrasah, pesantren, pondok pesantren
science sains ilmu (from Arabic 'ilm), sains
Scotland Scotland Skotlandia
secret rahsia rahasia
secretary setiausaha Indonesian lit. "loyal to work" sekretaris (from Dutch secretaris)
section seksyen, bahagian seksi (from Dutch sectie)
sensor penderia, pengesan, sensor sensor, pendeteksi
server (computing) pelayan peladen
session sesyen, sesi sesi (from Dutch sessie)
sewer saluran najis "najis" means dirty in both languages, saluran kumbahan selokan, parit (means 'ditch' in Malay), got, saluran air/pembuangan
sexagesimal perenampuluhan seksagesimal
shampoo syampu (from Anglo-Indian / Hindustani chāmpo, the imperative form of (Hindi) चाँप्ना chāmpnā 'to smear, knead the muscles, massage') sampo
share berkongsi berbagi
shirt baju (also in Indonesian but more generally refers to clothes) kaos, kemeja (from Portuguese camisa)
shoe kasut generalized term for any footwear in Indonesian, but usually related to sandals or ancient shoes., sepatu sepatu (understood but less frequently used in Malaysia, from Portuguese sapatu)
shop kedai (Means eateries stall in Indonesia) toko
shopping mall pusat beli-belah mal
site laman, tapak (mean foundation (building) or footprint in Indonesia) situs, laman
Slovakia Slovakia Slowakia
snow salji (from Arabic thalj) salju (also from thalj)
sodomy liwat (from Arabic) sodomi, liwat (only used in Islamic text book)
solar solar, suria (from Sanskrit 'surya') surya
solution penyelesaian; solusi (rare) solusi, pemecahan, penyelesaian
sour masam asam,
masam (obsolete, usually used in connotative expression: bermuka masam: sour faced (unsatisfied/unhappy expression))
soya beans kacang soya (kacang) kedelai
Spain Sepanyol Spanyol
speak/talk berbicara, bercakap (means 'to chat' in Indonesian), bersembang, berborak berbicara, ngomong (Javanese ngoko, colloquial)
specialist perubatan, pakar spesialis (in case of specialist doctor), pakar
spoon sudu sendok
sport sukan olahraga (means "athletics" Malay, from Sanskrit, lit. "to train the body")
spouse pasangan suami-isteri, kelamin colloquial, in Indonesian means "sex" or "gender" pasangan (suami-istri), suami-istri (husband-wife)
stability kestabilan stabilitas, kestabilan
stadium stadium stadion, stadiun from Dutch
staff kakitangan (phrase "kaki tangan" mean subordinate with negative image in Indonesian) staff,
personil from Dutch personeel
stamp setem perangko
standard piawai, standard standar
state (within a federation) negeri negara bagian
station stesen stasiun (formerly spelled "setasiun")
steering wheel roda stereng roda setir from Dutch stuur
stop (verb) berhenti berhenti, henti, stop
strawberry strawberi stroberi, arbei from Dutch aardbei
stupid bodoh, bengap, tolol, bangang, bongok (slang) bodoh, dungu, tolol, goblok (slang), very demeaning in Malay, geblek (slang), bego (slang)
sublimation (phase transition) pemejalwapan sublimasi, penyubliman
Sunday Ahad Minggu from Portuguese Domingo which means Lord's Day, Ahad (only used in Islamic calendar)
sunglasses cermin mata gelap kacamata riben (from American brand of sunglasses 'Ray-Ban')
supermarket pasar raya supermarket, pasar swalayan
supervision penyeliaan pengawasan, penyeliaan, supervisi
survey tinjauan (mean process or result of observation in Indonesian), kaji selidik survei
suspend (hang) menggantung (it means 'hang' in Indonesian) menangguhkan (also 'adjourn' in Malay)
Sweden Sweden Swedia
Switzerland Switzerland Swiss
Syria Syria Suriah (from Arabic)
table (set of facts or figures) jadual tabel
tank kereta kebal tank
tap water air paip (piped water) air keran (from Dutch Kraan),
air ledeng ("ledeng" also means "plumbing", from Dutch "leiding")
tapioca ubi kayu as in Indonesian, understood as the tuber cassava itself (tepung) tapioka,
tepung singkong
taxi teksi taksi
teacher cikgu, guru guru
teacher (religious, Islam) ustaz, ustad (ultimately from Persian اُستَاذ), ustadzah female ustad, ustadzah
team pasukan used in Indonesian to refer to troops tim
telephone telefon (formerly talipon) telepon
television televisyen, TV televisi (from Dutch televisie) , TV
terrorist pengganas (means rioter" in Indonesian) terroris
terrorism pengganasan terorisme
testicles buah zakar, testis, buah keranjut testis, biji kemaluan, buah zakar (slang, vulgar), kanjut (slang, vulgar)
Thailand Negara Thai, Siam, Thailand Thailand, Siam, Muangthai used in old scripts
The Hague The Hague Den Haag (from Dutch)
ticket tiket tiket, karcis (from Dutch kaartje)
time masa,
waktu from Arabic al-Wak'tu,
masa (can be used for 'at a specific long period of time' in Indonesian)
tire (US)/tyre (UK) tayar ban (from Dutch [auto]band)
tofu tauhu tahu
toilet bilik air, tandas toilet, kamar kecil, WC (pronounced 'we-se') for watercloset
tornado puting beliung beliung, angin puyuh, tornado puting
toothpaste ubat gigi pasta gigi, odol
towel tuala (from Portuguese toalha) handuk (from Dutch handdoek)
traffic jam kesesakan lalulintas, jam (slang) kemacetan
traffic light lampu isyarat lampu lalu-lintas
train kereta api, tren kereta api, kereta
transport, transportation pengangkutan transportasi, pengangkutan, perhubungan (in case of Ministry of Transportation)
transsexual pondan, bapok (slang), transseksual transseksual, waria (polite), bencong, banci
tree pokok in Indonesian means "principal" or "core" or "staple", in Sundanese poko means authentic, e.g. authentic cuisine, pohon pohon
try cuba coba
turkey (bird) ayam belanda (ayam) kalkun (from Dutch kalkoen)
turn pusing (means 'to spin' in Indonesian, commonly used to mean dizzy as a short form of kepala pusing), belok belok, putar
ugly hodoh, teruk, buruk jelek, buruk
Ukraine Ukraine Ukraina
uncle pakcik paman, oom or om (derived from Dutch, pronounced and sometimes spelt as oom)
union kesatuan (in Indonesian means "unitary") persatuan, uni, serikat
United Arab Emirates Emiriah Arab Bersatu Uni Emirat Arab
United Kingdom United Kingdom Inggris Raya
United Nations Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu Perserikatan Bangsa-Bangsa
United States of America (USA) also the United States (US) Amerika Syarikat Amerika Serikat (AS)
university universiti universitas,
universiteit (obsolete, from Dutch)
until sehingga (mean thus in Indonesian),
vagina faraj (from Arabic, in Indonesian means "vulva"), pepek/pepet (slang) alat kelamin wanita, liang peranakan, vagina, farji, memek (slang, vulgar), pepek (slang, vulgar)
variable (mathematics) pemboleh ubah variabel
Vatican City Vatican City (Kota) Vatikan
Venice Venice Venesia (influenced by Dutch Venetië )
verb kata kerja kata kerja (influenced by Dutch werkwoord, literally "work word"),
verification pengesahan (mean "validation" in Indonesian) verifikasi
very sangat, amat, sekali sangat, amat, sekali, banget (from Javanese ngoko)
vice (deputy) naib wakil
victim mangsa in Indonesian means "prey" korban
Vienna Vienna Wina (influenced by Dutch Wenen)
violet (colour) lembayung violet, ungu, lembayung (rarely used)
virgin (anak) dara, (anak) gadis, perawan perawan (formal), gadis, (anak) dara
viscosity kelikatan viskositas,
visit lawatan, pelancongan wisata, kunjungan, pelancongan
volleyball bola tampar bola voli
volume (math) isi padu volume, ruang, isi
voucher baucer voucher
want mahu mau, ingin
warden warden, penjaga penjara sipir penjara (from Dutch cipier)
Warsaw Warsaw Warsawa
website laman web situs web
weekend hujung minggu akhir pekan, akhir minggu
well (water hole) perigi sumur,
perigi (rarely used)
wheelchair kerusi roda kursi roda
when bila, apabila, ketika, bilamana (rarely used) kapan, bilamana, (question word)
bila, ketika
window tingkap, jendela jendela (from Portuguese janela),
tingkap (less common)
windscreen, windshield cermin kereta kaca depan (mobil)
wire dawai,
kawat (e.g. copper wire),
kabel (e.g. electrical wire, cable)
you anda (very formal), awak, kamu, engkau, kau anda (everyday formal), kamu (familiar only), engkau ('kau) (prose), elu/loe (very vulgar Betawi slang, influenced by Chinese dialect leu)
zero sifar nol from Dutch nul
zipper (fastener) zip resleting from Dutch ritssluiting
zone zon daerah, zona
zoo zoo, taman haiwan (kebun binatang was also frequently used in Malaysia before the mid-1960s) kebun binatang (derived from Dutch dierentuin, literally "animal garden"), taman margasatwa (more formal form for zoological park)

False friends[edit]

Besides vocabulary differences, there are also a number of false friends in both languages. As these words are in quite common use in either or both of the languages, misunderstandings can arise.

Word Malay meaning Indonesian meaning
ahli a member (of a group)
(when the word is used by itself) (from Arabo-Persian "ahli" اهلی 'belonging to a group, people, indigenous or sim.'),
expert in a field (from Arabo-Persian "'aqli" عقلی 'belonging to the intellect or mind, intellectual')
expert in a field
akta (from Latino-Dutch acta) act (= law) act (= written legal document)
awak you (casual) me / I (only used in some regions in Sumatra Island),
crew (of transportation)
baja fertilizer
Malay: besi waja
banci census effeminate, transvestite homosexual (negative connotation)
bandar city port
bapa father (male parent) specific to 'Father' (God) in religious context (Christianity)
our Father which art in Heaven = Bapa kami yang di surga
Father in Indonesian is bapak (with an additional 'k' letter')
belanja to treat, giving something for free to shop (note: also carries this meaning in Malay, though in a context more akin to "spend".)
berbagi to give to share (something)
berbual to chat to tell a lie
bercinta in (the essence of) love make love, have sexual intercourse
beredar From the root word "edar" which can means; to oscillate (planets only), to leave, or to distribute distributed
biji seed seed, testicles ("balls", offensive)
bila when if, when (older version, almost obsolete)
bina to build to develop
bisa venom can/able (same as "boleh" in Malay), venom
bontot/buntut buttock tail ('ekor' as commonly used in Malay)
budak kid slave
butoh/butuh male genitals, an offensive reference need
cadangan suggestion, opinion, proposal (example: peti cadangan = suggestion box) reserve, spare (example: ban cadangan = spare tire)
comel cute, pretty (to call) someone who can not keep a secret (example: mulutnya comel= her mouth can't keep a secret)
daripada A preposition that carries 5 meanings; 1. from (to explain the origin of something) 2.than (to do comparison) 3.from (to protect from, to avoid from ) 4. from (to state the sender of something) 5. from (to state the differences) than (comparison)(example: Kamus ini lebih baik daripada yang itu= This dictionary is better than that one)
doktor doctor (paramedic); doctorate (educational title) doctorate (educational title)
In Indonesian, the equivalent for paramedic doctor is dokter
duduk to sit, a place to live on (only used informally) to sit
email electronic mail (recently changed to "emel") enamel
gampang bastard
from 'anak gampang' lit. easy child
easy (non-negative meaning)
getah rubber, plant sap plant sap
hemat moral excellence frugal, pennywise, save money or something e.g. electricity, gas or water usage
jabatan department position
jawatan position department
jemput invite, pick up pick up
jeruk pickles/preserved fruits or vegetables orange (fruit)
jimat frugal, pennywise, save money or something e.g. electricity amulet (the Malay equivalent is azimat)
kacak handsome ber-kacak pinggang (stands with hands on your hips)
The Malay equivalent is bercekak-pinggang, a phrase to mean that a person is being bossy
kadar rate content, level
kakak elder sister elder sibling (either elder brother or sister)
kakitangan employee subordinate (with negative meaning)
kapan or kafan: Muslim burial shroud (kain kafan/kapan) when (kapan mau pulang?= when do you want to go home?)
karya work of art (karyawan=artists) work (karyawan= workers)
kerajaan government
(historical association, most Malay states were governed by monarchs, from Raja = King, now refers to any kind of government)
keranjang 'bola keranjang' = basketball (no other use than for basketball) basket
kereta car vehicle, carriage, cart (kereta api = train, kereta kuda = horse carriage/cart, kereta gantung = cable car)
kesal regret annoyed
khidmat service fully concentrate
koneksi 'konek' = dick (slang/vulgar) ( sambungan = connection in Malay) connection
konfeksi A soft solid made by incorporating a medicinal substance or substances with sugar, sirup, or honey clothing industry, any fancy or luxurious women's clothes
(Dutch: confectie. A non-standard spelling sometimes used is: "konveksi")
lucu funny funny, cute (slang)
mangsa victim prey for animal
mengacau to disturb, to stir Indonesian: mengaduk to disturb
operasi mathematic operational symbol, tactical operation mathematic operational symbol, police operation, operation/surgery (as in Dutch)
pajak to mortgage, pawn tax
paket packet packet, package (normally used for promotion purposes, as in Dutch)
pantas speedily appropriate, 'no wonder'
pantat buttock (Sabahan Malay meaning), vagina/pussy (slang/vulgar) buttock
pelan plan
(associated with architectural work, site map etc. only)
slow (perlahan in Malay)
penyelenggaraan maintenance to organize, organizing
pejabat office high-rank officer/officials
(those who hold office, Malay (pegawai))
pembangkang opposition rebel (noun), insurgent
pemerintah ruler government
pengajian studies mass recitation of Qur'an
penganjur organizer promotor
percuma free of charge
percuma can also mean free of charge in Indonesian, but its usage has become obsolete, replaced by cuma-cuma/gratis (taken from Dutch: gratis=free)
useless, not needed
piawai standard; correct
bahasa piawai = standard language
expert; skillful (on something)
pijat bugs
(software bugs i.e. Year 2000 bug and also commonly referring to the bed bugs)
Javanese pijet
pohon tree, to plea or to beg (from basic word: "mohon") tree
pokok tree essential, basic, main kebutuhan pokok = essential necessities
polis police (insurance) policy (as in Dutch)
polisi policy police (as in Dutch)
punggung buttock back
pupuk to nurture fertilizer (also means 'to nurture' in the metaphorical sense of the word)
pusing to go around a place, circular in motion, to spin/rotate
Indonesian: putar
dizzy, confused, headache
putera prince
Indonesian: Pangeran
rambut hair (for head only) hair
rayuan appeal (neutral) flattery, seduction (emotional or sexual connotation)
tambang fare mine, rope (as tali tambang)
tandas toilet to explain, to finish
sederhana medium, normal simple, easy
senang easy happy, relax
seronok good, enjoyable impolite, pornography-related gambar seronok = porn picture
sulit confidential, difficult difficult
wakil representative vice (for example, 'vice chancellor' and 'vice president'), representative

The influence of English[edit]

One of the most important aspect in differences between Indonesian and Malay is the degree of influence from English. Apart from being heavily influenced by the Dutch language, Indonesian language also adopted a significant number of English loan words in its vocabulary, although English didn't play significant role on the Indonesian language and in fact most of these vocabulary are of Dutch origin (note that Dutch and English shared similar Germanic origin). There have been many changes in Indonesian language as a result of its historical development. Words have been freely borrowed from English and only partly assimilated, in many cases, to the Indonesian patterns of structure.[9] By the late 1970s, English words pouring into the language, leading one commentator, writing in 1977, to refer to the "trend towards Indo-Saxonisation".[10] A great many borrowings from English sometimes fulfill no communicative need, expressing concepts adequately covered by existing words. Among the examples are: akurat instead of tepat (accurate), aliansi in the place of sekutu (alliance), eksis rather than ada (exist), kandidat as well as calon (candidate), konklusi instead of kesimpulan (conclusion) kontaminasi in the place of pencemaran (contamination), opini rather than pendapat (opinion) and opsi in the place of pilihan (option). Contrary to their Indonesian countrepart, Malaysian Malay has shown a remarkable resilience, despite being the former colony of British empire.[11]

Some in Indonesia view this trend of excessive borrowings as "language dynamism", while some Malay[clarification needed] linguists called it mass "language pollution",[12] and lack of creativity in creating new terms.

These days a widespread use of English in the Indonesian and Malay twittersphere can be observed. Basolectal and mesolectal English usage couched within Malay, and other local language are common. Twitter has, as an example, become extremely widely used by all sections of society and the next twenty years should see a lot of language-rub from which we could expect to see more Anglicisims move into acrolectical or printed Indonesian and Malay.[citation needed]


The original text in Indonesian:

[13] Apabila peraturan pakta stabilitas Eropa dihormati sampai ke detailnya, rasio utang publik dibanding produk domestik bruto pada hari krisis akan berada di posisi 10 persentase poin kurang dalam zona euro, katanya.

The same text rendered in Malay:

Apabila peraturan pakatan kestabilan Eropah dihormati secara terperinci, nisbah hutang awam berbanding keluaran dalam negara kasar pada zaman krisis akan berada di kedudukan 10 mata peratusan kurang dalam zon euro, kata beliau.

English translation:

If the European stability pact rules had been respected in detail, the ratio of public debt to gross domestic product on the days of crisis would have been at the position 10 percentage points less in the eurozone, he said.

Convergence of vocabulary[edit]

The rift of evolution between the two languages is based more on political nuance and the history of their formation than on cultural reasons. As a result, views regarding each other's languages differ among Malaysians and Indonesians. In Malaysia, the national language is Malay; in Indonesia, it is Indonesian. Malaysians tend to assert that Malay and Indonesian are merely different varieties of the same language, while Indonesians tend to treat them as separate – albeit related – languages. The result of this attitude is that the Indonesians feel little need to synchronize their language with Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei, whereas the Malaysians are keener to coordinate the evolution of the language with the Indonesians.[14] However, both parties have realized that communication benefits from mutually comprehensible and intelligible languages, which motivated efforts to synchronize the languages' development. The effort to synchronize both languages' evolution to increase their mutual intelligibility has been embarked by imposing standard rules of language. This process is headed by Pusat Bahasa[15] on the Indonesian side and Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka as its Malaysian counterpart.


The following texts are excerpts from the official translations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Malay and Indonesian, along with the original declaration in English.

  • Malaysian text sample:[16]
Maka dengan ini,
Perhimpunan Agung mengisytiharkan
PERISYTIHARAN SEJAGAT HAK ASASI MANUSIA ini sebagai suatu ukuran bersama terhadap pencapaian oleh seluruh umat manusia dan kesemua negara dengan tujuan supaya setiap individu dan setiap badan masyarakat, dengan senantiasa mengingati Perisytiharan ini, hendaklah berazam melalui pengajaran dan pendidikan bagi memajukan sanjungan terhadap seluruh hak-hak dan kebebasan ini dan secara langkah-langkah berperingkat-peringkat, di bidang negara dan antarabangsa, bagi menjaminkan pengkitirafan dan pematuhan sejagatnya yang berkesan, kedua-duanya di antara negara-negara anggota masing-masing dan rakyat wilayah-wilayah di bawah bidangkuasa mereka.
Perkara 1.
Semua manusia dilahirkan bebas dan samarata dari segi kemuliaan dan hak-hak. Mereka mempunyai pemikiran dan perasaan hati dan hendaklah bertindak di antara satu sama lain dengan semangat persaudaraan.
  • Indonesian text sample:[17]
Majelis Umum memproklamasikan
PERNYATAAN UMUM TENTANG HAK ASASI MANUSIA sebagai satu standar umum keberhasilan untuk semua bangsa dan negara, dengan tujuan agar setiap orang dan setiap badan dalam masyarakat dengan senantiasa mengingat Pernyataan ini, akan berusaha dengan jalan mengajar dan mendidik untuk menggalakkan penghargaan terhadap hak-hak dan kebebasan-kebebasan tersebut, dan dengan jalan tindakan-tindakan progresif yang bersifat nasional maupun internasional, menjamin pengakuan dan penghormatannya secara universal dan efektif, baik oleh bangsa-bangsa dari negara anggota sendiri maupun oleh bangsa-bangsa dari daerah-daerah yang berada di bawah kekuasaan hukum mereka.
Pasal 1
Semua orang dilahirkan merdeka dan mempunyai martabat dan hak yang sama. Mereka dikaruniai akal dan hati nurani dan hendaknya bergaul sesama lain dalam semangat persaudaraan.
  • The original English version of the text:[18]
Now, therefore,
the General Assembly proclaims
this UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.
Article 1
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.


  1. ^ Hafriza Burhanudeen, Nor Zakiah Abdul Hamid, Norsimah Mat Awal & Mohd Azlan Mis. "The Reality of Bahasa Melayu and Bahasa Indonesia in Academia" (PDF). Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor, Malaysia. The International Journal of Language Society and Culture. Retrieved 9 July 2012.  line feed character in |author= at position 70 (help)
  2. ^ Fairy Mahzan. "The Wonderful World of Subtitling". Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  3. ^ Bahasa Melayu becomes Bahasa Malaysia again, Lim Kit Siang, 6 June 2007
  4. ^ Perambahan: A unique feature of Brunei Malay, Brunei Times, 4 August 2010
  5. ^ Spelling and Society: The Culture and Politics of Orthography Around the World, Mark Sebba, Cambridge University Press, 2007
  6. ^ The Indonesian Language: Its History and Role in Modern Society, James N. Sneddon, UNSW Press, 2003
  7. ^ Istri Djoko Disebut Beli Rumah Rp 7,1 Miliar, Kompas, 14 June 2013
  8. ^ 58 IBO berpotensi jana RM1.9b, Utusan Melayu, 6 June 2013
  9. ^ Roderick Ross Macdonald (1976). Indonesian reference grammar. Georgetown, USA: Georgetown University Press. p. 2. ISBN 9780878401635. 
  10. ^ James Sneddon (2003). The Indonesian Language: Its History and Role in Modern Society. University of New South Wales Press. p. 174. ISBN 978-0868405988. 
  11. ^ Seong Chee Tham (1991). A Study of the Evolution of the Malay Language: Social Change and Cognitive Development. Singapore: Singapore University Press. p. 14. ISBN 978-9971691363. 
  12. ^ "Bahasa Melayu dan Bahasa Indonesia" (PDF). Berita Harian. 19 March 2008. Retrieved 2011-02-09. 
  13. ^ Antara News – Draghi: Krisis Zona Euro Berisiko "Sistemik"
  14. ^ Who is Malay?, July 2005
  15. ^ due to several reorganization in current cabinet, the Indonesian Language Regulator is Badan Pengembangan dan Pembinaan Bahasa, Kementerian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan, Republik Indonesia
  16. ^ From
  17. ^ From
  18. ^ From

External links[edit]