Common Problems of English to Indonesian Translation


Indonesian, or Bahasa Indonesia, is the official language of Indonesia, a nation of 250 million people. It is an Austronesian language based on the Malay language spoken in the Malay Peninsula, Singapore, and Borneo and remains not only the only official language in Indonesia but the lingua franca of a culturally and geographically diverse nation. There are said to be 652 local languages spoken across the Indonesian archipelago, so Bahasa Indonesia is the only language that enables all these people to able to communicate with each other.

Because Indonesian is so widely spoken by so many people, the need for good Indonesian to English and English to Indonesian translators is immense. Like many language translations, there are specific challenges that must be overcome for effective translation. Some of these common problems of translation of English to Bahasa and vice versa are outlined below.

Problems faced by a language translator when translating from English to Indonesian or Indonesian to English.

Language structure

The fact that Indonesian belongs to the Austronesian language family and English to the Germanic language family means that there are many inconsistencies between the two languages when it comes to a comparison of syntax, vocabulary, and sentence structure. 

One of the more obvious ones is that English often has many different words that convey different meanings whereas, in Indonesian, the context of the phrase is more important. Indonesian is also a language that is constantly growing. It has borrowed words from other languages such as Sanskrit, Arabic, and even Portuguese. English also has many borrowed words from many other languages. These language origins complicate the structure of each language

Sentence structure

There are many differences in sentence structure between Indonesian and English. Indonesian, for example, doesn’t recognize direct and indirect articles like “a” and ‘the”. Indonesian also doesn’t recognize gender in the same way as English. On the other hand, despite the seemingly simpler sentence structure of Indonesian, there are also complexities that are missing in English. For example, in English, there is only one type of “you”. This is not true for other European languages, even Germanic languages like German and Dutch which recognize 2 or more forms of “you,” their use is dependent on the relationship between people and social status. Indonesian takes that one step further and has many more forms of ‘you,” up to 20 according to linguists.

Idiomatic expressions

Idiomatic expressions are often difficult to translate between any language pair. The further apart the 2 languages are culturally, historically, and linguistically, the more challenging they are to understand or equate. This is particularly important for translators whose work consists of translating text that often has a lot of idiomatic expressions such as literary and marketing translation.

Compound words

Both English and Indonesian make use of compound words to create words with different meanings from the component words, but the compound words in Indonesian are rarely the same as in English.

Double or multiple-meaning words

Indonesian typically uses double words as a way of showing plurals, or accentuation of the meaning of a word, while English usually uses a suffix to show plurality. Both languages have words that may have multiple meanings and the translator often has to use the context of the word to know what the specific meaning is of these words.


Bahasa Indonesia is a very significant language in one of the world’s largest nations by population. English to Indonesian and Indonesian to English translation is important to many businesses, individuals, and private and government agencies and organizations. It’s important to always use professional translators who have an in-depth knowledge of the subtleties of both the Indonesian and English languages.

Benefits of Learning Spanish‍

It’s one of the best languages to learn for traveling!

In 2016, there were 437 million people who spoke Spanish around the world. That’s in fact 17 percent of the entire world’s population.  Also, Spanish is the official language or national language of twenty-one countries. In North and South America, 418 million people speak Spanish; in the EU 8% speak Spanish as a 1st language, while 7% say it as their 2nd language. From these facts, there cannot be a better reason to learn Spanish and you will be able to talk about a language that is spoken by some of the most beautiful countries in the world. 

Which countries speak Spanish?

These countries speak Spanish:

Spain (of course!) and:

  • Argentina;
  • Bolivia;
  • Chile;
  • Colombia;
  • Costa Rica;
  • Dominican Republic;
  • El Salvador;
  • Guatemala;
  • Mexico;
  • Nicaragua;
  • Panama;
  • Peru;
  • Puerto Rico;
  • Venezuela;

Advantages of learning Spanish

1. Learning Spanish offers employment opportunities

Because Spanish is one of the 6 official languages of the UN, and the 3rd most spoken language in media learning it offers many job opportunities. Spanish is also an important business language too. According to an article in The Economist, learning Spanish nets an extra $51,000 throughout life.

2. It will maintain a sharp mind

Alzheimer’s Today has revealed that speaking more than 1 language seems to help the brain being affected by the disease‍.

3. You will end up a better person

Learning Spanish doesn’t only boost your ability to concentrate, but it also helps you to better understand cultures that are the same as your own. 

4. An additional world of literature, art, and beauty will be available to you

A major benefit of learning Spanish is that you will be able to watch classic movies, such as Pan’s Labyrinth, in its original language which is much better than using subtitles.‍‍

5. It will not take you too long to learn

The American Council of Teaching Foreign Language (ACTFL), languages are divides languages into 2 classes which are:

Group I: French, Spanish, and Portuguese,

Group IV: Japanese, Arabic, Korean and Chinese.

Languages in Group I such as Spanish, take about 480 hours of learning to gain some level of advanced fluency. Spanish is generally regarded as an easy language to learn.‍

6. More opportunities to fall in love

A well-known benefit of learning Spanish is that you will open up your pool of potential partners because it gives you the chance to meet people you have never had the chance to communicate with before. 

Spanish as a business language

A business wanting to expand overseas will benefit greatly from learning Spanish as the language is spoken in not so many countries around the world. There are new markets for the growth in wealth that is taking place in central and South America so they can be no better time for expanding into these markets and learning Spanish at the same time.

Business travel is easier and more enjoyable

Once you have established business ties abroad the next step is to learn Spanish as this gives you the window of opportunity to communicate effectively with your trading partners in the Spanish-speaking countries you have aimed to target. As soon as you disembark from your plane communication becomes much easier than if you hadn’t bothered to learn Spanish. You can understand all the language you see written around you and communicate with not only your business partners but ordinary people too.

Improve your customer service skills

All businesses require contact with their customers and there is little doubt the best way to go about this is by communicating in the language of your customers. This is just another great reason for learning Spanish today. Your customers will praise you for speaking their language.

New professional connections

Once you have become competent in speaking Spanish doors will open for you and you will quickly get new professional connections.

Hire professional services for any type of language translation including Spanish after you have set up a branch of your business overseas.

What’s the Difference Between Language and Dialect?


Once upon a time, people rarely traveled, or at least never traveled as much as they do today (speaking of pre-Covid times of course!) Communities were separated from other communities for much of the time and over long periods of time the way they spoke to each other, and their language changed slowly. The longer communities were separated from each other, the more their languages evolved into different dialects, and perhaps over longer periods of time, different languages.

What is a language?

People communicate using a common language, which is a specific vocabulary arranged in a structured grammatical sequence. Language can be verbal or converted to text. There are many thousands of different languages used around the world. Some are spoken by hundreds of millions of people as their main native language, and then there are other languages that are only spoken by very few people. Some languages are growing in importance while others are dying or retained with difficulty.

Languages don’t stay the same. They change gradually over long periods of time. A bit like the branches of a tree, different languages may be closely or more remotely related to other languages. Linguists (the experts who study languages) recognize broad families of languages like the Semitic languages or Germanic languages. The fact that some languages are related to others reflects the way people have migrated in the past. As a group of people moves away from one part of the planet to another place altogether, they take their language with them. Over time, the language changes, but may still be similar in many ways to the language of the people they left behind. A good example is the group of Germanic languages: German, Dutch, English, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian. These are distinctly different languages, but there are as many similarities between them as there are differences which reflects the way a common group of people migrated into northwestern Europe from the East many hundreds of years ago. It’s easy to recognize the similarities between Italian and Spanish or Portuguese, to use another example just as it is easy to recognize the huge differences between these Romance languages of Europe and the East Asiatic languages of China and Japan.

What is a dialect?

Dialects are variations of a single language spoken by people who have lived in different regions. Dialects can become so distinctively different that it can be hard to recognize that they are actually the same language. This is especially the case with the way the dialects are spoken. For example, a person brought up in Glasgow, Scotland may be hard to understand by an Australian from Sydney, but they still speak the same language, albeit in different languages. If the Glaswegian writes down what he or she is saying, it would be hardly any different from how the Sydneysider would write down the same thing that was spoken. In other words, the written form of a language tends to be much more uniform, while the colloquial or verbal variations of a language can be quite different although the speakers will still recognize that they are speaking the same language.

The differences between a language and a dialect

So, what is the difference between language and dialect? By definition, dialects of a language belong to the same language. The differences between the two dialects reflect how long the people who speak the same language have been separated from each other and by what significant geographical boundaries. These days, new dialects of the same language are much harder to form because of the amount of traveling that is done and the ubiquity of communication over the radio, TV, films, and the Internet. To give an example of how dialects are harder to form these days, compare the native English used by Australians and the same language used in Great Britain. There are hardly any notable differences between the English used by those who are brought up in Perth and those who were brought up in Brisbane, yet the distance between them is huge. People who are brought up in Perth, Scotland, though, speak with a much more recognizable dialect than anyone brought up in Southampton on the South coast of England.

Translation services used for languages and dialects

Generally, when a chunk of text is translated into another language, dialect tends to be disregarded unless there is a particular advantage in adapting the target language used to take into account a regional dialect. Commercial translation services, especially those used to translate marketing material, certainly do need to take into account different dialects as they are translating material that needs to be understood as widely as possible. This means that both language translation and dialect translation are needed.

When translation takes dialect use and colloquialisms into account, it is usually referred to as localization. Some translators specialize in localization. Translation services for things like manuals and medical journals or instructions are most likely to use the standard language without converting it into a specific dialect.


People use language to communicate and over the tens of thousands of years that humanity has lived on Earth, there have developed many hundreds of different languages. Some languages are very similar to others as they belong to the same family while may be totally different from other languages.

Dialects are different variations of a single language and develop because people have taken a single language and moved to different places. Because of separation, their use of the same language has changed but not enough to call it a different language.

Why Understanding a Culture helps to Unlock a Language

Is it really possible to become fluent in a language without having a basic understanding of its culture? Some people say you can communicate quite accurately without considering the cultural context of the words, phrases, and sentences while others say you are missing out on the truth of a language if you don’t have some understanding of the cultural setting of the language.

Culture and Language are Interwoven

Understanding a language involves understanding its culture and many say language is essentially culture. That goes for language translation as well. Culture language translation is just as important as the bare nuts and bolts of the language by itself.

How a group behaves and interacts is essentially learned and becomes part of the group’s culture.

There is a definition of culture that states it’s the collective programming of a particular mindset which sets out to differentiate one group of people from another.

The basis of a culture isn’t just its artifacts and tools, but it’s how the group members interpret, perceive, and use them. It’s the symbols, values, interpretations, and the group’s perspectives that set one group of people apart from one another in a modernized society. It’s not the material object in human societies. People who share a culture typically interpret symbols and behavior in a similar or the same way.  They will probably share food, values, art, mythology, and etiquette. These have an effect on language because they are the subjects of discussion in a group

Idioms and the Way a Speaker Speaks Showcases a Language and Culture

Understanding culture and its language can be fast-tracked just by learning idioms.

● A common saying such as ‘a a penny saved is a penny earned’ shows how important money is in the English-speaking world. The language itself is portraying the culture in this example.

● A language is usually spoken and the way the words are emitted is sometimes part of the culture, as with Koreans who use the front of their mouth in a very direct way. It seems that when a Korean utters a sentence it resembles the action of throwing a dart and that’s quick and pointed.

● U.S. English is sometimes described as a drawl as the words sit back in the throat and the lips barely come together when engaged in a conversation.

● Spanish comes out in various ways and sometimes it appears spicy and fiery while other times it seems mellow and easy-going.

5 Important Things You Should Know About Māori Translation

Lots of people have heard of Māori often in relation to the rugby team known as the All Blacks. In New Zealand, Māori has a vibrant culture and there is an eagerness to keep the Maori language alive. The haka is a well know welcoming ceremony used throughout New Zealand when events of various types take place. Māori culture has often been included in New Zealand movies like “Whale Rider” and “Boy”.

Apart from the more superficial aspects of Māori and despite strong western influences, the indigenous people of New Zealand still have a firm relationship with their land and are key landowners. In fact, they have words to describe their relationship with the land. They call themselves “tangata whenua”, which when translated by Māori translation services means people of the land.

The Māori language presence shows how the language is used to represent aspects of Māori culture including the words kaitiakitanga and manaakitanga. The former means guardianship and the latter hospitality. The essence of kaitiakitanga is acting as guardians of the land and its natural environment. Climbing Mt. Tarawera, which is sacred to Māori, gives visitors the chance to come close to Māori culture.

There are certain customs that still prevail today, including the hangi, which is an oven used in a hole in the earth on a base of rocks. The area is heated by a fire and the uncooked food which in the early days was wrapped in leaves and buried in the ground in the area where the fire was. Today other materials like wire baskets are used to put the food in.  The hole is filled in while letting the food cook in the residual heat left behind from the fire. Once cooked, the food is uncovered and shared amongst family and friends.

Māori is a National Language in New Zealand

There are 3 national languages in New Zealand, Māori or Te Reo (literally, “the tongue”, English, and sign language. As well as the Māori language thriving through place names it’s also taught in schools even though it is not compulsory to learn it. It can be heard spoken on Māori radio and in Māori immersion schools where the language is emphasized throughout the curriculum and Māori translation services are used to translate Māori into other languages including Māori document translation.  Kiaora the key greeting in Māori is heard in many different contexts and is not just used by Māori but is also translated in a Māori document translation.

Translating Bahasa Indonesia for Official Purposes

Indonesia: A Nation of Islands and Linguistic Diversity

Indonesia is not one single landmass but is made up of 17,508 separate islands, of which just 6,000 are inhabited. It is in the heart of the tropics where not only humans seek out an existence but so do a variety of exotic wild animals that cannot be found anywhere else on Earth.

The Complexity of the Bahasa Indonesia Language

There is one official language but more than 700 other languages spread throughout the country. The Bahasa Indonesia written form has been influenced by Arabic, Latin, and Tamil. But today the government recognizes the Latin script. Indonesian has 8 vowels and more than 18 consonants. From time to time, changes are made to the way the letters are used in Bahasa Indonesia so it is important if any translations of the language take place that these changes are incorporated into the translation.

Translation Needs for Indonesians in Australia

Many Indonesians travel to Australia for various purposes, for business, migration, and study and if they need to get any documents written in Bahasa Indonesia translated into English for government purposes in Australia it will be necessary to hire the services of a professional translator who understands all the intricacies of Bahasa Indonesia in order for the translation to be accurate.

The Importance of NAATI Accredited Translators

You may be setting up a contract between your Indonesian company and an Australian company so you will have to ensure you get a NAATI translator to undertake the work. If you settle for someone who has not been accredited with the reputable NAATI accreditation the translation may be far from perfect and may not put the intended message across in the right way.

Benefits of NAATI Translators in a Changing Language Landscape

A NAATI translator has undergone training and accreditation by passing an exam in his or her pair of languages which gives you a quality guarantee. Bahasa Indonesia is an ever-changing language and by hiring NAATI translation services you will get a competent translator who knows about any changes and will ensure your translated documents matches any new requirements.

The Impact of Accurate Translation on Life in Australia

An accurate translation is essential if you intend to live permanently in Australia or are setting up a business. You won’t regret getting one as it will speed up your entry to Australia.

What Didn’t You Know About Turkish Language Translation?

The Turkish language is not a new language. Turks have crossed over borders dating back to the era of Ottoman rule, making moves into countries nearby such as present day Greece, Bulgaria, Georgia and Syria with their variety of native languages and as far away as Egypt and Sudan, where the Arabic languages had steadfastly maintained their own presence. When a Turk meets a Greek some sort of language translation has to take place just as it does when a Turk meets up with an Arabic speaker.

Continue reading “What Didn’t You Know About Turkish Language Translation?”

Facts Every Translation Client Should Know About

If you are intending on paying for a translator to translate your document, there are a number of things you should know before you take the plunge.

1. A professional translator is not as fast as a machine translator, so if you have a long document you would like translated, expect to see between 2,500 and 5,000 words being translated every day.

Continue reading “Facts Every Translation Client Should Know About”