Alphabet in Indonesian

Abbreviations are often used in Indonesian. There are literally thousands of commonly used acronyms and abbreviations, and they pop up in profusion in every domain of life.

It is important to be able to recognise and use the most frequent ones, and it is equally important to pronounce them correctly. Homework is known as PR, pronounced “pe er”, mobile phone is known as HP, pronounced “ha pe” and a first aid kit is known in Indonesian as P3K pronounced “pe tiga ka”, where the 3 indicates that the letter P occurs three times. P3K is the abbreviation of Pertolongan Pertama Pada Kecelakaan (first aid in an accident).

In all languages that use the Roman, also called the Latin, alphabet, each letter of the language has its own name. These “names” usually mimic the way the letter is pronounced, but in English the name of a letter is not always related to its pronunciation. The letter W is called “double u” because it is a novel letter composed of a reduplicated U (which historically was written V).

In Indonesian, if you spell the letters of the alphabet, their “names” always correctly reproduce the sound the letter.

Your name may be unfamiliar to the Indonesian people you meet and you may have to spell it out letter by letter. Also, as you study the Indonesian language you will often encounter difficult personal names or place names, not to mention ordinary items of vocabulary. You will need to ask about the spelling of these words and recognise this spelling when it is spoken to you.


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