Speak It Right!

Friday, May 23, 2008

We Indonesians do not speak English as our mother tongue (although some people do). We mostly speak our local language; for example, we speak Javanese because we are Javanese. As Indonesians, we are also able to speak our national language, Bahasa Indonesia. However, English is a foreign language in our country. Many of us do not acquire English at birth, therefore we often make errors and mistakes learning it. But don’t worry, American or British kids make them too. Language acquisition is a process, and it takes time. So when you make mistake, don’t consider it a terrible thing.

I have seen people making mistakes when speaking English. I do make mistakes too sometimes as a learner. The interesting thing is that we usually make similar mistakes when speaking English. There are many studies proving this. Here are some common mistakes I have noticed:

Thanks before

You are supposed to say “thanks in advance”. Indonesians tend to say “thanks before” because there is an Indonesian language interference. We usually say “terima kasih sebelumnya” right? And we just translate it directly to terima kasih ‘thanks’ and sebelumnya ‘before’. But native speakers don’t say it that way. As I said above, they say it “thanks in advance”. So if you write its abbreviation when you send an SMS you should use TIA (thanks in advance) instead of thanks b4 (before).

No hurt feeling, no heart feeling, etc.

Sometimes you say one of these when you've said something you think is rude and would like to apologize just in case the other person feels offended. Those phrases are incorrect. Native speakers might know what you mean when you utter those phrases, but it's not written correctly. You should change ‘hurt’ and ‘heart’ to ‘hard’, and add ‘s’ to ‘feeling’. So you have to say “no hard feelings”.

Its mean, it’s mean, its happen, etc.

These are common mistakes made when the speakers intend to say “it means, or it happens”. A kind of a slip of the tongue? It could be. In addition, the present tense marker -s attached to a verb is not an easy feature to acquire. It is easier for an English learner to say or notice the -ing sound (as in ‘meaning’) rather than -s sound (as in means), because -ing sound is a salient feature in English. It sounds obvious, and you can hear it clearly. So, let’s say you want to explain something, then you have to say “it means”. If you say “it’s mean,” then you mean something is cruel (mean is an adjective synonymous to cruel).

[Note: Actually you would say "that's mean" or "that was mean" not "it's mean". If you say "its mean" an English speaker might think you are talking statistics.]

Now you know how to say the correct English forms. I hope this short passage helps you improve your English. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.


acquire = memperoleh

acquisition = pemerolehan

adjective = kata sifat

feel offended = merasa terhina

mother tongue = bahasa ibu

salient = mencolok

slip of the tongue = keseleo lidah

sound = bunyi

synonymous = bersinonim

*from the 2nd edition of e-loen


puput said...

oh yes yes, you go home heart-heart yes << contone wong indonesia sing rak sinau grammar tp rumongso iso ngomong boso enggris. lha po boso inggris ki njuk indoensia di inggris ke poo?? wuuuu..

*njenggung sirah dewe*

Anonymous said...

agak njlimet sich penjelasane...but thanks in advance

fernando said...

Thank you so much. It helps me much to improve my English.
Good job...

smartilicious said...

ya ya...its absolutely help me so much to understand english even better...
i didnt know that 'thx b4' is incorrect form...
well done, bro!!

ninaz said...

how to put? (lho dadi bs inggris...padahal maksude "piye to put"?

njilmet yah? mungkinkarena penjelasan dari segi linguistiknya yang bikin njelimet?

you're welcome...and thanks


permataharahap said...

Great job. You should develop this list to include more common mistakes in English particular to Indonesian speakers.

ninaz said...

thanks..yea you're right..i notice some more mistakes but i haven't written them down yet :)

thanks for the suggestion..