Friday, April 15, 2011

"Baju baju baju. Baju me-eans shirt."

These are the lyrics to a song that my sister, Colleen, composed while waiting in line for Dottie's True Blue Cafe in San Fran. I expressed, "How the heck am I ever going to remember that 'baju' means shirt in Indonesian?" Now, for my time in Indonesia, when someone says "baju," I will remember my sister singing as pizza crusts are tossed at us from a window overhead. 

Bahasa Indonesia is a very logical language so far, which is helpful for my remedial learning needs. The sentence structure is similar to English, but it has Spanish tendencies. Adjectives follow nouns like in Spanish ("green wall" is translated to "wall green") and "r's" are rolled. If you want to make it count, say it twice. "Pisang" means banana, and more than one banana is "pisang-pisang". Merah = red, and to get pink, you say "merah muda", or "young red". Dark red = merah tua, or old red.

I have to constantly stretch associations of words to remember vocab. "Kiri" means left (direction) and "kanan" is right (direction). To remember I think that my friend, Betsy, has a niece named Kira, and her family are Democrats. "Kanan" sort of sounds like Kieran, and our family friend, Kieran, is a Republican. Kiri and kanan! I was also having a tough time differentiating between "kita" and "kami". "Kita" means us, including the person with whom you are speaking, and "kami" means us, but excludes the person with whom you are speaking. This was particularly confusing to me because "kami" sounds like "Commie", and one would think that a Commie's socialist ideals would imply that all are included. So I force myself to think of the practical application of Communism and how the reality seems to create an exclusive group, no matter what the intent. Kami!

We have completed three mornings of language classes so far, and we have made some significant progress. I am now able to ask my host aya (dad) how many rulers he has (which I had to do for homework last evening), and I can now answer the common Indonesian question, "Mau ke mana."

So, pelan-pelan. Slowly, slowly.

To kick off your own bahasa Indonesian language studies, perhaps you should view this:

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