15 Basic Greetings in 3 Different Languages You May Want to Know When Visiting Borneo (English/Bahasa Malaysia/ Indonesia)

Are you having some trouble with the local language when you travel to Borneo? Or when you asked for certain direction, some will just walk pass by you as if you do not exist at all? Are feeling too shy and left out for not being able to mix around with the locals because you find it hard to express in their language?

Do not worry. Here are some important tips for you to break that language barrier when visiting Borneo. You must first know that in Borneo Island especially in Sabah and Sarawak, the official language is Bahasa Melayu (Malay Language). If this is your first time coming down to Sabah and Sarawak, here are some 15 basic greetings for you to learn and you can master it in a very short period of time. 

Indonesia’s Bahasa Indonesia is not far from the Malaysian language. It has its own respective slang and pronunciation as well. Technically different states in Malaysia have different slang of the Bahasa Melayu if you listen to it carefully. However just 15 basic greetings are more than enough for you to get around town.

       1) Good morning/Good Afternoon/Good Evening/Good Night 

Bahasa Malaysia: Selamat pagi / Selamat Tengah Hari / Selamat Petang/ Selamat Malam

Indonesia: Selamat Pagi / Selamat Siang / Selamat Sore / Selamat Tidur

2) How are you today?

 Bahasa Malaysia: Apa khabar saudara ? / saudari hari ini?

 Bahasa Indonesia: Apa kabar Pak / Ibu hari ini?

 In Bahasa Melayu languages, the terms for Saudara and Saudari is expressed to show politeness and softness to someone new that you do not know off or whom you just met in Malaysia. Saudara usually refers to men or a boy and Saudari usually refers to a girl or a lady. In Indonesia, the term for Pak (for men) and Ibu (ladies) is the same meaning except that is is in different slang.

 If you know the person’s name, then the term Saudara or Saudari will usually follow up with their name. For an example: Apa khabar saudara/Pak Kevin? / Apa khabar saudari/Bu Liyanna?

 If you refer to more than one people, how are you all today? Then the correct term is “Apa khabar / kabar kalian semua ?”


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 3) How do I go there? / How do I get there?

Bahasa Malaysia: Macam mana saya nak pergi ke sana? 

Bahasa Indonesia: Bagaimana saya sampai di sana?

4) Excuse me, can you please kindly show me the way?

 Bahasa Malaysia: Maafkan saya, bolehkah saudara / saudari sila tunjuk jalan?

 Bahasa Indonesia: Permisi, dapatkah anda tolong ramah tunjukkan saya jalan?

 5) Have you eaten?

 Bahasa Malaysia: Sudahkah saudara / saudari makan?

 Bahasa Indonesia: Apakah anda makan?

If it involves time it will be different. For an example:

Have you taken / eaten your breakfast / lunch / tea / dinner / supper?

 Bahasa Malaysia: Sudahkah saudara / saudari makan sarapan / tengah hari / minum petang / makan malam ?

 In Bahasa Indonesia, the terms and word structure is about the same except for its intonation. Bahasa Indonesia’s Malay tone that is like  music intonation that goes up and down.

 6) I would like to rent a car please?

 Bahasa Malaysia: Saya nak sewa kereta?

 Bahasa Indonesia: Saya ingin menyewa sebuah mobil?

 7) How much is this?

 Bahasa Malaysia: Berapakah harganya?

 Bahasa Indonesia: Ini harganya brapa ya?

 8) What is your name please?

 Bahasa Malaysia: Siapakah nama saudara / saudari?

 Bahasa Indonesia: Siapakah nama Pak / Bu?

 9) Where are we going today?

Bahasa Malaysia: Kita nak pergi ke mana hari ini? 

Bahasa Indonesia: Kita mau gi mana hari ni?

10) My name is …. 

Bahasa Malaysia: Nama saya ialah….

Bahasa Indonesia: Nama saya ialah …. 

11) What is your plan for today?

Bahasa Malaysia: Apakah rancangan saudara / saudari hari ini? 

Bahasa Indonesia: Apa rancangan Pak / Bu hari ni ya?

12) What are you / we going to do today? 

Bahasa Malaysia: Apa yang saudara / saudari / kami akan buat hari ini?

Bahasa Indonesia: Pak / Bu / Kalian semua mau bikin apa hari ini? 

13) How long is the journey?

Bahasa Malaysia: Perjalanan ini berapa lama? 

Bahasa Indonesia: Brapa jauhkah perjalanan ini?

14) What time is it now? 

Bahasa Malaysia: Pukul berapa jam sekarang?

Bahasa Indonesia: Sekarang ini jam brapa ya? 

15) Goodbye

Bahasa Malaysia: Selamat tinggal 

Bahasa Indonesia: Slamat tinggal

There you have it, all 15 basic greetings both in Bahasa Malaysia and Indonesia language.  Most of the Bahasa Malaysia language used by our Indonesian neighbour is not far apart. Except that you need to listen carefully to its slang, intonation, and terms as it can be different. Even if you use Malaysian Bahasa Malaysia in Indonesia, it is still understandable as the meaning is still the same meaning.

Most of the wordings for Bahasa Malaysia and Indonesia are rather similar except for some of the wording intonation of the Indonesian language.

So, are you ready to pack and go around in Borneo now? Keep this simple guide close by as it will come in handy.


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