Indo-Lesson 1: Let’s ride the busway [sic]

Hi everyone, it’s Toshihiko here and today I’m experimenting on giving lessons on the Indonesian language. Starting from today onwards, I’ll be giving Bahasa Indonesia lessons specifically written for foreigners, expats, and other Indonesian learners both inside and outside the country on a weekly basis every Monday.



Let's begin the lesson.


Firstly, let’s take a look at this little confabulation:

“Kita ke sana naik apa nih?”

(What transport are we gonna take there?)

“Naik busway lah! Masa’ mau naik bajay..”

(Of course we ride the Busway [sic]! How can we take bajaj..?)

Menaiki, according to my Indonesian-English dictionary, can be defined as:

  1. climb on to sth, e.g. Anak itu menaiki pohon (The child climbed trees)
  2. ride sth, e.g. Mobil yang dinaikinya (The car that he rode)

It is a common habit for Indonesians to strap off all the affixes to make a word colloquial.

Thus, the precise English counterpart for “I’m brushing my teeth” would be “Aku lagi gosok gigi”, notAku sedang menggosok gigi”.

I’ll discuss the interchangeability of the words sedang and lagi at some other time.

In the meanwhile, I’ll focus on the usage of the word “Busway”.

For some of us who frequent Jakarta or live in Jakarta, we are often amused when Indonesians say that they are going to “naik Busway”, which literally means “riding a Busway”.

What does the word “Busway” should specifically refer to?

The red lane, of course.

For those of you who don’t know which red lane I’m talking about, it is the special lane painted on the street which gives privilege only for the Transjakarta bus to ride through.

Sooner or later, we know that the “Busway” they’re talking about is the air-conditioned Transjakarta bus service whose interconnectivity resembles the metro system in our respective countries.

We all know that the proper phrase should be “naik Transjakarta”, notnaik Busway”.

But not a single Indonesian seems to be aware that they’re misusing the term.

Well, I’m an exception, lols.

Everytime I heard any of my relatives or friends say that they “naik Busway”, there is always this annoyed feeling in me. But after a while, I learned to accept the term as it is: an Indonesian slang that has gone unchecked.

So instead of asking Indonesians to fit in their English-derived Indonesian to meet our English standard, the more correct approach should be us who fit in our Indonesian to meet their standards.

That's all for today, folks.


I’ve traversed thru Blog-Indonesia and Technorati networks to find any blogs that focus on giving Indonesian lessons to no avail. However, there’s the possibility that I wasn’t careful enough in looking for it, so please give me the link if you find any, OK? I’d like to contact the blogger(s) so we can cross-refer our lessons and improvise our lessons together.

For some of you Malay speakers, I know very well how confusing it is to find the exact Indonesian equivalent for the Malay term that you have in mind due to the close affinity between the two languages. I also have some command in Malay language, so don’t hesitate in asking me any inquiries about Indonesian or Malay language that you may have.

One thing to be noted though, I no longer accept any e-mails from anyone I don’t know in my Gmail account due to the increasing number of spam mails I’ve been receiving lately. So unless you are an old school friend (such as BòóN) or a fellow blogger whom I’m acquainted by name (like Jakartass and Diny), don’t ever bother sending me e-mails because I’ve filtered all e-mails from people I don’t know as junk mails.

I have switched on the anonymous-commenting option so that you could send in questions you may have about Indonesian language. Any suggestions or feedbacks on how to improve the lessons in terms of format or the likes would gladly be taken into consideration.

javajive  – (29 October 2007 at 09:04)  

This is awesome work you've done here. I think all of us could use either a refresher or a more solid foundation for our Bahasa Indonesia. I look forward to future lessons!

Jakartass  – (29 October 2007 at 10:23)  

JJ is right. We all need to be told when we're saying it wrong, even though it won't actually change anything we say.

You see, aku 'naik' semua kendara'an ~ sepeda, bis (bus?), taksi, mikrolet, bemo, bajaj dll.

厚山 利彦 (Toshihiko Atsuyama)  – (31 October 2007 at 06:50)  

"Bis" is the correct EYD (Ejaan Yang Disempurnakan ~ formal Indonesian), not "Bus" as most Indonesians usually say.

Perhaps u guys have any suggestion on what I should discuss in my next Indo-Lesson?

Preetam Rai  – (31 October 2007 at 12:27)  

I think there was someone who was doing a Bahasa podcast but is not doing it anymore. How about doing one.

厚山 利彦 (Toshihiko Atsuyama)  – (1 November 2007 at 09:38)  

Preetam: It's kinda troublesome to do podcast.. especially since I don't have an internet connection at home. I use internet from net cafes..

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