Indonesian 101

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Indonesian is written using the Latin alphabet. It is more phonetically consistent than many languages—the correspondence between sounds and their written forms is generally regular.

One common source of confusion for foreign readers, particularly when reading place names, is the spelling changes in the language that have occurred since Indonesian independence. Commonly-used changes include:

Old spelling New spelling
oe u
tj c
dj j
j y

The first of these changes (oe to u) occurred around the time of independence in 1947; all of the others were a part of an officially-mandated spelling reform in 1972. Some of the old spellings, which were more closely derived from the Dutch language, do survive in proper names; for example, the name of a former president of the Indonesia is still sometimes written Soeharto, and the central Java city of Yogyakarta is sometimes written Jogjakarta, which is how it is pronounced.

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