Vowel

There are 5(five) letters that represent vowels in Indonesian, but there are 8(eight) distinct sounds associated with them. The difficulty for a beginner is knowing which sound applies to vowels that have more than one sound associated with them.

a i u
/a/ is always pronounced like the English /a/ in ‘far’; ‘car’; ‘jar’ /i/ is always pronounced like the English /ee/ in ‘bee’; ‘teeth’ /u/ is always pronounced like the English /oo/ in ‘tooth’; ‘book’
Example: Example: Example:
saya – I ini – this buku – book
apa – what sini – here guru – teacher
kaya – rich gila – crazy suhu – temperature
makan – eat kami – we malu – shy
tanam – plant indah – beautiful pintu – door

Vowel /e/ has two different sounds.

Letter(Grapheme) and sound(phoneme) are 2(two) different things. The following examples show different ways to pronounce the letter /e/ for different words in  Indonesian language.

  1. Saya lebih senang mobil sédan ketimbang pickup.
  2. Mendengar berita yang menyedihkan itu ia menangis tersedu-sedan.
  3. Nénék datang nanti sore.
e é
A weak one like the English /e/ in ‘children’; ‘her’; ‘per’ It is pronounced like the English /e/ in ‘pen’; ‘bet’
Example: Example:
emas – gold énak – delicious
beras – rice kakék – grandfather
dekat – near soré – afternoon
pergi – go béla – defend
sekarang – now sétan – ghost

Vowel /o/ has two different sounds also.

o o
The first one is like the English /o/ in ‘cold’; ‘bold’ The second one is pronounced like the English /o/ in ‘hot’; ‘shot’
Example: Example:
toko – shop tonton – watch
orang – person sombong – arogan
obat – medicine roti – bread
kado – gift tolong – help
perangko – stamp bohong – lie

A combination of /a/ and /i/ becomes a two-vowel sound and the diphthongs

Unfortunately there is no way of knowing whether the combination of this two vowels becomes a diphthong or just a two-vowel sound. You will know it by practice and memorizing.

Two- Vowel Sound Diphthongs
/a/ and /i/ is pronounced individually Diphtong /ai/ is pronounced like the English ‘my’; ‘tie’
Example Example
air – water pantai – beach
main – play bagaimana – how
lain – other selesai – finish
baik – well damai – peace
kain – cloth capai – reach

A combination of /a/ and /u/ becomes a two-vowel sound and the diphthongs

Two- Vowel Sound Diphthongs
/a/ and /u/ is pronounced individually Diphtong /au/ is pronounced like the English ‘cow’; ‘how’
Example Example
haus – thirsty harimau – tiger
daun – leaf engkau – you
mau – want kerbau – buffalo
laut – ocean pulau – island
bau – smell danau – lake

A combination of /i/ and /a/; /i/ and /u/; /i/ and /o/; /u/ and /a/; /u/ and /i/ becomes a two-vowel sound.

/i/ and /a/ /i/ and /u/ /i/ and /o/ /u/ and /a/ /u/ and /i/
dia – he/she tiup – blow biola – violin suami – husband bui – jail
biar – let cium – kiss kios – kiosk kuat – strong kuil – temple
liar – wild siul – whistle pionir – pioneer buah – fruit puing – debris
tiang – pole liur – saliva tua – old buih – foam
siang – noon hiu – shark dua – two

BahasaKita © 2017 All Rights Reserved

A Wieke Gur Production