Loh, Mah, Yah and Yuk


Meaning and Application : The word ‘loh’ derives from Javanese ‘lho’. Before a statement it is an expression of surprise at what has been said. Occurring after a word it is emphasizes the word and asserts that it is true, it implies the meaning of ” .. you know”.
Synonym: Many times it’s written ‘lho’ in Indonesian publications.

Lho! kenapa belum dikerjain?
Tinggal di Indonesia ternyata enak lho.
Besok ada rapat jam 9 pagi. Jangan lupa lho!
Gue seneng lho tinggal di Bandung.
Gue nggak mau lho kalo disuruh nyanyi.
What? Why haven’t you done this?
It’s good to live in Indonesia(you know).
There is a 9 AM meeting tomorrow, (make sure that) you don’t forget!
Ah! I love living in Bandung.
I want you to know that I will decline if anybody ask me to sing.


Meaning: The word ‘mah’ derives from Sundanese. It is not frequently used. It acts to mildly stress or emphasize a word or statement.
Synonym: sih

Gue sih/mah nggak mau kalo disuruh nyanyi.
Kalo dipikir pikir mah/sih harganya murah sebenernya.
I will decline if anybody ask me to sing.
Come to think of it the price is actually cheap.


Meaning and Application: Literally it means ‘yes’. It is used as a discourse marker in a number of positions and has a considerable range of meanings:

  1. It can follow a statement, turning it into a question and acting as a tag, meaning ‘isn’t it?; do you?; is that so?’;
  2. It is used in combination with a question word as a stalling device;
  3. It can be used as an intimacy device when information is given;
  4. It can be used with apologies, acting as a softener and indicating a hope that the listener will consent;
  5. In imperative it acts as softener so that the order isn’t felt to be a strong command.

Synonym: ya

Semua orang suka nasi goreng ya?
Dia udah punya cewek, ya?
Makanan ini enak yah?
Lagi makan ya?(asking the person who is actually eating)
Nyokap-bokap gue tuh …hmm … gimana yah?
Maaf ya ..
Tolong bawain tas saya ya ..
Everybody loves fried rice, don’t they?
He’s got a girlfriend, do you think?
This food is delicious, isn’t it?
Are eating?
This parents of mine are … hmm .. how would I describe them?
Sorry, eh
Take my bag please ..


Meaning: come on, let’s go
Synonym: ayo, mari(in formal Indonesian)
Application: It urges the listener to do something together with the speaker.

Makan yuk!
Let’s eat!
Come on!

*) Reference: Colloquial Jakartan Indonesian by James Neil Sneddon, 2006

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