Bahasa Indonesia

Business Indonesian or General Indonesian?

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Business Indonesian is a sophisticated form of Bahasa Indonesia used heavily at work in Indonesia or when initiating and negotiating business with Indonesian-speaking partners anywhere in the world. Like Business English, Business Indonesian isn’t separate from the original Indonesian language; In fact it uses the vocabulary and grammar from General Indonesian, but beginner learners of Bahasa Indonesia will find it challenging to absorb the language of Business Indonesian because the latter deals with ways of expression, tones and register which aren’t frequently used in the general Indonesian vernacular. Hence, beginners in Bahasa Indonesia will encounter difficulties in understanding even ordinary Business Indonesian. 

Using an example to illustrate the above, common verb forms such as “baca” (read), “tulis” (write), “kirim” (send), which are acceptable in general communication, may be considered too informal in the world of business. Often a prefix has to be attached to these words to create more formal and complex verb forms in order to achieve a suitable register for business dealings. How language expressions and vocabulary are delivered – the tone – during business also differs from general interaction. 

Furthermore, Business Indonesian is imbued with cross-cultural nuances that beginners would find fiddly. Although beginner learners also learn formal expressions in general Indonesian, these are often used in tandem with persuasion techniques in Business Indonesian, which only more advanced learners of Bahasa Indonesia are familiar with. These techniques involve the use of euphemisms, rhetorical devices, hedging and others.

Foundation is important.

In view of the above, it will be extremely demanding and even unproductive for beginners without prior knowledge of Bahasa Indonesia to dive headlong into Business Indonesian. It is crucial for these learners to first lay the foundation by embarking on a course in elementary General Indonesian. In this way, they will acquire the fundamentals of the language e.g. grammar, syntax, sentence structure, historical and cultural context which will allow them to transit more effectively and smoothly into Business Indonesian. To illustrate with an analogy, beginner learners of Bahasa Indonesia are like driving students who are just starting off. First, they learn the basic driving skills in the safety of the driving circuit, and only later do they move on to the roads (aka the business world) where they encounter demanding drivers and traffic conditions, negotiating these challenges by using more complex techniques.  

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