Book reviews: Indonesian Slang and Making Out in Indonesian

Indonesian Slang: Colloquial Indonesian at Work
Christopher Torchia and Lely Djuhari

Making Out in Indonesian (revised edition)
Peter Constantine

Both books published by Tuttle Publishing

~Lapor ayam hilang, kambing pun hilang.
Report the loss of a chicken, and you will end up losing a goat as well.

A couple of books on learning the Indonesian language recently came into my possession: Indonesian Slang: Colloquial Indonesian at Work – which is the far more meaty of the two – and its much slimmer companion, the rather humorously entitled Making out in Indonesian.

Most foreigners who make an effort to learn Indonesian become fluent pretty quick. It’s not a difficult language to learn - especially if you “immerse yourself” in Indonesian society, perhaps by living with an Indonesian family - or God forbid with your Indonesian boyfriend or girlfriend (a practice rather caustically known as kumpul kebo or “buffalo gathering” in Indonesia - as pointed out in the book Indonesian Slang).

Neither book is really suitable for beginners, however; rather they will appeal more to those who have already got a few years of living in Indonesia under their belt.

The colloquial expressions in Indonesian Slang are divided into fifteen chapters with titles such as Body Language, Money and Politics, Family Affairs, Hanging Out, Wisdom, and, my favorite, Faith and Fortune: did you know that orang ketiga setan (the third is Satan) for example?

For each colloquial expression, the authors also provide some background information to add some context. Some of these insights are quite illuminating and I was pretty surprised to learn, for instance, that there are such things as gereja gereja liar (wild churches), tante girang (happy aunties?!) and ingus gajah (elephant’s snot). The expression bule gila (crazy white man) I was more familiar with, having been called by the term on numerous occasions.

Making out in Indonesian, by comparison, is a much more risqué book which will appeal to players, delinquents and other unsavory types – i.e. most of this blog’s readership if my Google stats are anything to go by.

Whilst some of the expressions in the book can be used to try to pick up women, there is always a good chance she doesn’t have a clue what you are saying, responding with the much used phrase “apa sih?” (what the hell are you talking about?). Yet even when this happens, you have at least managed to break the ice. And that’s half the battle – especially since most girls these days can speak at least a modicum of English anyway.

On a cautionary note, great care should be exercised in using some of the more rumbustious phrases and expressions in this book since, incorrectly used or in the wrong circumstances, they could very easily lead to the next third world war breaking out in your hotel room. Dasar perek! (total slut!), goblok lu! (you twat) and pantat lu gede (you have a fat arse) are unlikely to be well received.

So play it safe and say something nice. But not too nice.

Because if she says aku mau jadi istrimu (I want to be your wife) you know it’s time to run!


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