Vowel Changes

Changing ‘u’ to ‘o’

In colloquial Indonesian or daily conversation there are several words with letter ‘u’ on the second syllable that is replaced and pronounced to ‘o’.

Formal Colloquial Meaning Formal Colloquial Meaning
belum belom not yet ketuk ketok to knock
kaus kaki kaos kaki socks kendur kendor weak, loose, flabby
keruk kerok scrape off mabuk mabok drunk
saus saos sauce, gravy separuh separo half
supir sopir driver stasiun stasion station, terminal
surga sorga heaven taruh taro put down
telur telor egg tegur tegor to greet, to warn, to admonish

Changing ‘i’ to ‘é’

In daily conversation or colloquial Indonesian there are several words with letter ‘i’ on the second or third syllable that is replaced by ‘é’ and it is pronounced like ‘e’ as in ‘egg’.

Formal Informal Meaning
kemarin kemarén yesterday
naik naék climb, go up, ascend
baik baék kind, nice

Changing ‘a’ to ‘e’

There are lots of words with letter ‘a’ on the second syllable that are replaced by ‘e’ and pronounced like the ‘e’ in the word ‘her’ in colloquial Indonesian. However, it is not possible to predict which words with final ‘a’ in formal Indonesian will become ‘e’ in colloquial Indonesian.

Formal Colloquial Meaning Formal Colloquial Meaning
antar anter escort, accompany, see off asam asem sour, acid
bekal bekel stock, supplies, provisions benar bener right, true
bosan bosen bored dalam dalem inside/deep
dapat dapet can, get, able datang dateng come
dengar denger hear, listen dekat deket near by, close by
diam diem hush, silent, quiet gemas gemes put out – can be of passion
hangat anget warm ingat inget remember
injak injek to step on isap isep to suck
kencang kenceng fast, stiff, tight, tense kental kentel thick liquid, dense
kesal kesel peevish, irk lapar laper hungry
lemas lemes limp, weak, flexible lipat lipet to fold
malas males lazy macam macem kind, sort, type
mantap mantep firm, steady pantas pantes acceptable, reasonable, proper, ethical
pedas pedes hot, spicy pegal pegel stiff, muscle pain
peras peres squeeze pijat pijet massage
pinjam pinjem to borrow pintar pinter clever
putar puter turn, to wind rapat rapet tight, close, dense
sambal sambel chilli paste sambar samber swoop down and seize, strike, attack, steal, rob
santan santen milk squeezed from coconut sebal sebel resentful
selamat selamet safe, congratulation, greetings sempat sempet opportunity, have sufficient time
simpan simpen to keep safe, to put away, to safe tajam tajem sharp
tangkap tangkep catch tekan teken to give pressure, to sign
teman temen friend, mate, pal tenggelam tenggelem drowned
tikar tiker floormat tukar tuker change/exchange

For more information or articles about colloquial, colloquial Indonesian, colloquial Jakartan Indonesian by Dr. Timothy Hassall from ANU, Canberra, Australia, click here.

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