Contributed and posted by ‘The Indonesian Way’, a textbook for the Indonesian language by George Quinn and Uli Kozok.
Tidak Enak & Kurang Enak
Modesty is an important virtue in Indonesia. Indonesians tend to avoid making blunt negative statements such as Makanan ini tidak enak “I don’t like this food.” It is much better to use ‘Makanan ini kurang enak’ which literally means “This food is less delicious.”
In some contexts the word ‘mau’ (want) can sound very emphatic. So the answer “Mau” in the example above sounds a bit like the English “You bet!” “Tidak mau” (I don’t want it) sounds quite blunt and could be translated something like “No way!” So to soften the bluntness of “Tidak mau” you should preface it with “Maaf” (Sorry) or perhaps even answer “Maaf, tidak bisa” (Sorry, I can’t).
Pedas & Panas
There are only a few spices that are considered hot in Indonesia: pepper, ginger, and chilli. The word pedas refers mainly to the hotness of chilli and should not be mixed up with panas which is hot because the temperature is high.