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Pocket Guide to Netherlands East Indies

Cover image.

A Pocket Guide to
East Indies

For use of Military Personnel only. Not to be republished, in whole or in part, without the consent of the War Department.
[Unlimited distribution authorized.]

Seal of War and Navy departments.


Prepared by

Map of Indian Ocean, Australia, and Netherlands East Indies.
Map of Indian Ocean, Australia, and Netherlands East Indies.
Illustration of an Indonesian sailing vessel.
Illustration of an Indonesian sailing vessel.


ON March 9, 1942, the radio station at Bandung, temporary capital of the Netherlands Indies in the hills of Java and the last Dutch stronghold to fall before the Japanese signed off with these words: "We are now shutting down. Goodbye until better times. Long live the Queen. Since that day, the people of the Indies have been living in a perpetual black-out as far as the free world is concerned. Scattered news of guerilla fighting in the hills and jungles filters out, but little or nothing is known of the fate of the 72,000,000 people who lived on the islands before the Japs came. We know this. The Indonesians are not


living as they want to live. Their daily lives, and perhaps the people themselves, are being changed under the striking force of hunger and brutality.

So this guide to the Indies must picture the people and the country as they were, before Bandung fell, and the radio said: "Goodbye until happier times." You are the means, the military force, by which those times will be restored to the islands of the Indies and the patient, kindly people who live there.

Treasure House Of Asia. Stretching along 3,000 miles of water from Malaya almost to the subcontinent of Australia, the Netherlands East Indies are the treasure house of Asia - home of rich oil deposits, tin, and other strategic materials we, and our enemies, need.

From the beginning of their dream of conquering the land and peoples of Asia, the Japanese recognized the vital importance of the Indies to their so-called New Order in the Far East. One of Japan's leading statesmen, Toshio Shiratori, said bluntly that these islands were "A matter of life and death to Japan economically and strategically." The pattern of conquest, planned by the Japanese war lords, therefore, was thorough.

When a world depression set in in 1929, world markets took less and less of the Indies goods - oil, quinine, kapok,


pepper, rubber, tea, sugar, and tin. The Japanese Government organized an outfit called the "Exploitation and Colonization Company for the South Pacific Islands", flooding the islands with cheap goods, buying as much of as many products as the Dutch would permit in an effort to dominate the island's economy. Japanese naval officers, disguised as fishermen, studied and charted the coastal areas, the harbors, and the narrow passageways through the shallow seas around the islands.

Then, on December 7, when Japan launched her military and naval forces against the United Nations, the real conquest of the Indies began. Coordinating their campaigns on land and sea, the Japanese occupied Wake Island, Guam, and British North Borneo, effectively cutting our lines of communication to the Philippines and protecting their own lines to their mandated island bases. Although not attacked directly, the Dutch government, on December 8 declared war, even despite Japanese assurances that the Indies would not be endangered. This proof of guts and loyalty to the cause of the United Nations should hearten any American soldier assigned to duty in the Indies.

The next Japanese step was the occupation of lightly-held outlying bases in the Indies themselves, the first thrust in that direction being leveled against the British


territory of Sarawak on the island of Borneo. For the first few weeks the enemy left the Dutch conspicuously alone, and the radio blared from Tokyo that the Japanese forces had no designs against the N.E.I. Government and was prepared to cooperate with it. The response of the Dutch was one of the most heartening occurrences in those early days of the war. Before the Japanese had fired one shot in their direction, the Dutch struck with everything they had. It wasn't much, but considering what it lacked in numerical strength, the military effort of this small colonial government is deserving of a deathless page in the annals

Illustration of two men with blow darts.
Illustration of two men with blow darts.


of human courage. You may remember those first few days after December 7, and you may recall how, while we in America were waiting for word of what our own ships and British ships were doing to the enemy in Asiatic waters, we were hearing mainly about Dutch submarines blasting Japanese convoys in the South China Sea.

The true figures of the Dutch defense were unknown in our country. For that reason, we hardly realized how terrible were the odds. There were fewer than 75,000 troops to defend the N.E.I.'s more than 3,000 islands. Most of these soldiers were Indonesians trained by the Dutch, and under the shock of one of the heaviest amphibian attacks ever brought against any country, they remained loyal to the last and fought until they were either dead or overwhelmed by superior military power.

As for the air defense, now it can be told that this modern David went into battle with only a handful of 5-year-old bombing planes and a skeleton force of fighters - less than 150 planes in all. They fought until they were utterly spent, and it was not only in defense of their own soil that the lives and the planes were expended. The bombers hit against Japanese bases in the Philippines. When the Japanese coil began to tighten around Singapore, Dutch planes flew out of Java to support the British. Finally, when the Japanese fleet came into the Java Sea, and the


thunderbolt was hurled against Java, only a dozen planes remained for the defense of that island. They took the air against a hundred times their number and were annihilated in the first few moments of the attack. But to say that their effort was wasteful and fruitless, one would have to say the same thing about the Alamo, or Marathon, or Wake, or Corregidor or any other place where a handful of courageous men have struggled against hopeless odds and thereby set a shining mark for all of humanity.

It required 3 months for the Japanese to smash the main resistance of the Netherlands East Indies forces, and even after that, little bands of Dutch and of Indonesians continued to hold out in the islands far to the south. Before losing the battle, they systematically wrecked their own possessions, burning their fields, dynamiting their oil wells and dismantling their factories. Some American troops also fought heroically in the defense of the Netherlands East Indies. The Japs had hoped to take over the N.E.I. intact; instead, they inherited an earth which had been scorched to the limit of the defender's ability, and the reorganization of the Japanese economy was thereby immeasurably slowed down.

This Is Where You Come In. The Japanese forces now control the key points which in turn control the Indies. In the


light of the Indies' strategic and economic importance, the retaking of this territory remains one of the major military assignments of the United Nations.

It's a big job, and tough - one that any American soldier can be proud to tackle. The fighting in the Solomons, in Northern New Guinea and elsewhere prove beyond anyone's doubt that the Japanese, tough, tenacious, and treacherous, will sell these islands only at top prices. Your success, that of your nation and of its allies will depend upon your qualities as a fighting man. Those are already proven. But there are more things to winning this war, and the peace after it, than that. One of the biggest is our understanding of other peoples, different from us, in their color, their religious beliefs, and their way of doing things. Thus, it is a part of your military job to gain the cooperation of the people of the Indies; to maintain at all times, their respect and good-will. That means knowledge on your part, and its companion, understanding.

This isn't a tourist guide, full of the delights of moonlit nights, tropical seas, and lovely maidens. Its purpose is to give you information, concisely and without frills, about the people and their land, invaded by a conqueror bent on exploiting it without thought for the rights or well-being of those who own it - the Indonesians, literally, "The Island Indians."



TO BEGIN with, there are some 3,000 islands in the Indies group, not counting innumerable tiny ones. Spread over a patch of ocean the size of the United States, the combined land area is three-quarters of a million square miles, about one-fourth the size of ours.

The best way to reduce the islands to an orderly picture is to divide them into four main sections: (1). The Great Sunda group: made up of the large western islands of Sumatra, Java, Borneo, and Celebes, with their offshore islands; (2). The lesser Sundas, made up of the long chain of smaller islands from Bali east to the Timor region; (3). The Molucca Group, consisting of Halmahera and numerous smaller islands around it; (4). Dutch New Guinea, the western half of the enormous island, sparsely populated and little explored.

You can get some idea of the relative size of these islands when you consider that the Dutch part of the island of Borneo is larger than Germany was before Hitler; Sumatra is the size of California and larger than Japan proper; and Java is about the size of New York State. The latter island is the most densely populated area in the world, supporting 990 persons to a square mile. In the whole of the United States there are only about 40 persons per square mile.


The map at the center of this book will get you better acquainted with the geographic position of Indonesia. The most important thing is the people. There will be more about the islands themselves later.


THE Indonesians differ widely among themselves. They don't all speak the same language, wear the same clothes or worship the same gods.

One of the reasons is that there are a number of different nationalities on the islands. About 70,000,000 people are of much the same stock as the Filipinos and the Malays of Malaya on the continent of Asia. Then there were 1,500,000 of those hardy travelers, the Chinese. Before the war, there were about 300,000 Europeans, some 80,000 Arabs and about 30,000 Indians (from India).

In New Guinea and some of the other outer islands near Australia the people are known as Papuans and are greatly different from the vast bulk of the Indonesians. Generally they are taller, heartier in manner and more loud-spoken.

The Indonesians differ widely among themselves in almost every aspect of life, yet there are common traits of character important to know. As a rule they are a small people, the men averaging perhaps 5 feet 2 and the women


Illustration of Indonesians - Dyaks and Papuans.
Illustration of Indonesians - Dyaks and Papuans.

a little under 5 feet. For the most part they are calm and dignified, finely built, and graceful. Also they are instinctively and sincerely polite. Don't mistake this politeness, especially among the Javanese, for servility; it is just their natural way of showing respect and a part of their everyday character to which they pay a great deal more attention than we do.


If you except some tribes in Sumatra and in the eastern part of the island the chief Indonesian characteristic is to live in peace and harmony with his fellows, his god, his surroundings, and himself. He doesn't want to push other people around, conquer more land or offend the beliefs of others. Intolerance, oppression or an overbearing attitude he dislikes strongly, and is very likely to get tough about it. This world needs, and will always need, more people like that.

As do most quiet people, the Indonesians have a well-

Illustration of Indonesians - Balinese, Sundanese, Batak, and Toradja.
Illustration of Indonesians - Balinese, Sundanese, Batak, and Toradja.


developed gift of seeing the other fellow's point of view, but they expect him to see and respect theirs in turn. It is particularly important not to disappoint them in this. For them, it is not successful achievement or wealth that determines a man's value; it is his personality and his spiritual quality. A good deed therefore should never be done with any thought of recompense in this or the other life; thereby, it loses its value.

Another common characteristic: the Indonesian is very sensitive. He dislikes coarseness of any kind. Furthermore his sensitiveness is such that if another commits what he regards as a shameful act, he feels ashamed to have witnessed it. Kind and ordinarily tolerant as he is, the Indonesian, if he feels sufficiently ashamed, may become violently angry, perhaps to the extent of running amok and slashing everyone in his path. This isn't a folk-tale, and, therefore, it is necessary to treat the Indonesians with great self-control and courtesy. Never shout at him, nor show impatience. He is keen to cooperate, but he does things at a slower pace than you are used to and impatience or violence only muddle him.

These traits are generally common to the great majority of Indonesians you will meet. Here then are a few thumb-nail sketches of the various kinds of Indonesians and their differences.


The Javanese. The Javanese number about 30,000,000 people, living mainly in the central and east part of Java, though the name is often applied to all Indonesian residents of the island. The typical Javanese headdress is made of figured cloth, with a "bun" or round knot at the back of the neck. These people are Moslems about whom there will be more later. From childhood the Javanese are taught a code of manners which is strictly followed by high and low born alike. It stresses self-discipline and control, politeness, careful regard for the feelings of others, respect for elders, and for those in authority. This helps to explain how so many people can live together in the same household or in a crowded village.

Sundanese and Madurese. The Sundanese of west Java and the Madurese of east Java and Madura Island are not as formal and are somewhat more democratic. Both groups wear headdresses of figured cloth, but that of the Sundanese has no bun or knot and that of the Madurese ties at the back with the two ends going off at a jaunty angle. The Madurese like to wear white jerseys with red horizontal stripes. Maybe you'd never think so, but there are many of them who have traveled considerably for they have been in demand as sailors and as hotel servants.


The Sumatrans. In Sumatra, perhaps the best known people are the Achinese, or Atjehs, who live at the northwest tip of the island. From earliest days they fought the Dutch. Finally, after a 35-year war, which ended in 1908, they were subdued, but even since then Dutch troops had to be stationed in their territory. The Achinese are perhaps the strictest Moslems in the Indies. If you get into their territory, be careful about respecting their customs and beliefs.

Somewhat to the east of them are the Bataks. They are isolated folk who still hold to their ancestral religion, though some of them have been converted to Islam (as the Moslems call their religion), and others to Christianity. The Christians are mainly in the region of beautiful Lake Toba, but the missionaries have been largely German, which means that the Bataks have had considerable Nazi propaganda dished out to them. The non-Christian Bataks are still suspicious of strangers, and until recently, war was one of their main pursuits.

Around the Padang region of West Sumatra are the Minangkabaus. Though they too are Moslems, they still practice some of their older social and religious customs. They trace their descent from their mother's side instead of from the father's side as we do. Women own the main property; children are reared in their mother's family.


Men have fewer home responsibilities, and so are freer to travel. Many of them have received an education, and are now doctors, lawyers, and political leaders in Sumatra and Java. They are shrewd traders, very democratic in their thinking, and great lovers of freedom. Minangkabau women wear gauze veils around their heads, but not over their faces. These people build lofty houses, elaborately carved and painted, with sharp peaks on the roofs.

Groups From Other Islands. A similar mixup of peoples is found in other parts of the Indies. Borneo has Malay groups on the coast, but in the interior there are many warlike tribes called Dyaks whose activities perhaps gave rise to the fable of the "wild man of Borneo." However, some Dyaks are good workers and carriers in exploration work. In the Celebes the outstanding groups are the Buginese of the southwest, who are famous sailors and traders, and the Minahassas of the northeast, who are now practically all Christians. In the Moluccas, the Amboinese of Amboirm are also largely Christians. Others like the Ternatans, are strict Moslems, and still others like most of the people on Halmahera Island, keep to their old faiths. The Lesser Sundas have a similar diversity of peoples, from the Balinese through to the more isolated groups in the Timor region. New Guinea is a huge world in itself.


Illustration of Indonesian and head dress.
Illustration of Indonesian and head dress.


The Dutch. The Dutch have been in the Indies since the latter part of the sixteenth century. You will find them very different from the so-called typical - but actually legendary - Dutchmen of Holland with their balloon trousers and wooden shoes. In fact, you'll discover that they are a good deal like the businessmen, engineers, and government administrators you know back home. They are hard workers, efficient, and modern in their ideas and methods.

The Dutch are inclined to be rather reserved when you first meet them, but once they become your friends, they will remain so for life. They are a quiet people, and the best way to get on with them is to be quiet yourself, even if you think at first that all their formality is a bit exaggerated and stuffy. Remember that one American who knows them calls them "The Dutch who never go down but that they drag a slew of their enemies with them."

Because they have been in the Indies for more than 300 years, the Dutch there consider this country their home. Don't start an argument with them about their position in the Indies, or about the colonial system, or that sort of thing. Keep your opinions on these subjects to yourself. And don't forget the misery and hardship the Dutch have suffered from the Japanese because they chose to declare war on Japan after Pearl Harbor, and later, chose to stay loyally in the country they love and call home.


Balinese. The Balinese are among the most interesting people in the Indies. In recent years Bali has attracted many tourists. Its picturesque scenery and strange, ceremonious rituals, to say nothing of the fact that some Balinese women still wear nothing above the waist, have been the drawing cards. The Balinese did not let the popularity of their island as a tourist paradise disturb their arts and religious observances.

Indo-Europeans. Nine-tenths of the so-called "Europeans" are the offspring of whites who married native women. These mixed people are called Indo-Europeans. The Dutch have had little racial prejudice, and since few white people came to the islands, especially in the earlier days, marriages with native women have been numerous and socially accepted. This Indo-European group usually marry among themselves and have multiplied with great rapidity in modern times. They have formed the backbone of officialdom. In general, they feel the same loyalty to Holland as do the white Netherlanders. They have full rights of Dutch citizens, and they are Christians and follow Dutch customs. This group has probably suffered more than any other during the Japanese invasion.

Chinese. For centuries Chinese have been coming to the islands. The descendants of old Chinese settlers are called P'RA-na-kan. Most of the full-blooded Chinese in the Indies today, however, are comparatively recent immigrants. They usually came to work on the plantations, especially in Sumatra and in the Banka and Billiton tin mines, just off the coast of that island. Later they often struck out for themselves as independent merchants, craftsmen, or farmers. The great majority lived in crowded corners and cubicles in or near their work places. Most Chinese abroad


are intensely nationalistic and hate the Japanese fiercely. Never use the word "Chinaman." Call them "Chinese" or use the Malay name for them, O-rang CHI-na (that is, "man of China").

Arabs. The Arabs have also come in over a long period. They are mostly from the barren Hadramaut district of the southeast Arabia coast. Usually they are found in the towns as traders and money-lenders. They are strict Moslems and usually greatly respected by Indonesian Moslems.

Indians. The Indians are still another group who have been in this area for centuries. They are known locally as Klings, apparently from the name of the old Indian State, of Kalinga in southeast India. You will recognize the men by their finely drawn features, their height, and their beards, and large turbans; the Indian women, by their draped clothing and jewelry, including a form of nostril ornament. In Java, the Indians are mainly small shopkeepers, but around Medan in northwest Sumatra numbers of them work on the plantations.

Illustration of a man with a chicken.
Illustration of a man with a chicken.



THE daily life of the Indonesians follows a very different schedule from our own, naturally better suited to the climate. They get up very early in the morning, in order to do as much work as possible before the heat of the day sets in. Then they may sleep or loiter in a shady place during the hot hours. They don't go to bed or eat at as regular hours as we do, the more so since they aren't clock watchers.

You may think many of them move slowly and take life easy. Don't jump to the conclusion that they are lazy. Rather, their work is geared to very different timing from ours and, especially for the farmer, a lot of it comes in a great hurry during certain seasons. Indonesian people don't rush through work as though it were something to get done as soon as possible. They usually enjoy their work, especially if they are in a group and can gossip and sing together. It has been said they live every day as though it were the only day of their lives. Money, too, is not as important to them as it is to us. When they get some, they are likely to spend it right away rather than save it.

Religion. You will find the Indonesians very conservative and touchy about their religion. If you are to get along well with them, don't argue about religion.


Remember that Moslems (in Malay Orang IS-lam) do not call their religion Mohammedanism. They do not regard Mohammed as god. They believe that Allah is the only god and that Mohammed was his prophet. Their religion is called Islam. The Moslem bible is known as the Koran, and the churches are called mosques. Most mosques (MAS-djid) in the Indies do not have the towerlike minarets like the mosques in Arabia and Turkey, but you will easily recognize them.

The Javanese are generally very strict in their Moslem religious observances. Yet, for the most part, they are not as hostile to people they look upon as unbelievers as are other Islamic peoples. The Koran commandment to "be patient and submit to authority" has undoubtedly helped to mold the character of the people.

Every year before the war thousands of Indonesians made a pilgrimage to Mecca, thus entering the select group known as HA-dji, (pilgrims) who are entitled to wear white headdresses.

Moslems are very careful about their conduct during the fasting month called poo-Asa or RA-ma-dan, which starts early in September. During this time, they are forbidden to eat or drink or smoke between sunrise and sunset. There are certain other special festival times, notably L'BA-ran poo-Asa, or HA-ri RA-ya ("great day").


Anyone employing Moslems is very careful to give time off (and perhaps a pay advance) for such religious occasions.

Strict Moslems never eat any kind of pork products. Correspondingly, the Brahmans in Bali never eat beef products. Don't offend them by offering these taboo foods.

The Balinese rituals and festivals are very elaborate. The temple ceremonies include traditional dances and dramatic performances in which the actors go into trances.

The Roman Catholic faith was brought to the Indies hundreds of years ago by the Portuguese, and Protestantism a little later by the Dutch. You will find their missions and churches scattered through the islands.

Beneath the surface of all these faiths there still exist many of the ancient forms of religious belief and practice, in which the world of nature is pictured as full of gods and spirits, some helpful, some harmful. The souls of ancestors, too, are regarded as still influencing many things that go on every day in the lives of the people. For that reason, never, even in fun, mention in an uncomplimentary way any of anyone's relatives. Many a killing in the Indies has been explained by: "They spoke of my grandmother, who is in her grave." The cultivation of rice and other important activities are surrounded with rituals to enlist the help of the good spirits, and bring good luck. Special respect is sometimes paid to certain kinds of trees,


and to animals like the tiger and crocodile. The spirits living on mountain-tops, in volcanoes, and in the sea, they believe, must also be kept in a friendly frame of mind.

In the Indies there are innumerable sacred or haunted places (K'RA-mat, POO-den, P'M A-li, PAN-tang, as-TA-na, they are called in various places) which cannot be visited at all, or only under very stringent rules of behavior. Only in case of unavoidable military necessity should any of these places be visited, and then only after a consultation with local civil and religious authorities. The value of going there must be weighed against the dangerous ill will which may ensue. Some places, as for instance Goenoeng Djati, near Cheribon, are considered sacred all over the island of Java. Desecration of such a place might even lead to a popular revolt all over the island and to the killing of American troops. If, by mistake, you have been to a sacred or haunted place and the villagers point this out to you, consult the headman of the village at once and follow the advice he gives you, so as to appease the "spirits" concerned. For such a misdeed, even if done in ignorance, it is possible that you may have to pay for a ritual meal. It is the safest thing when you reach a community, to find out immediately whether there are any of these places about or any special "taboos" (LA-ra-ngan) about which you should be careful.


When visiting temple grounds in Bali or West Lombok, for instance, these are good rules to follow:

    Never enter by the main gate, but only by the narrow side gates.

    Never bathe in sacred pools on temple grounds.

    Never sit on the platforms (BA-le), some of which are reserved for ceremonies.

    Never touch images of the gods, or the carved lotos chairs of the gods.

Amusement. Religion and amusement among the Indonesian peoples are very closely connected. Their holidays, feasts, dances, music, and plays nearly always have a religious meaning. The masks and other kinds of art work found in different parts of the Indies are also likely to have religious significance.

The height of local music is the Javanese orchestra (GA-me-lan) of drums, gongs, and other percussion instruments. The dances will seem strange and meaningless to you, but to the people themselves every tiny movement of hip, head, or finger means something in terms of tradition. All Javanese are ardent fans of puppet shows and shadow plays (WA-yajig) which tell the glories of old-time Java.

You will also find amusement that has no connection


with religion. Cock fighting has been a favorite sport, but because it was forbidden by the Dutch, it has been carried on more or less in secret. Other animals may be matched in battle royal, even crickets and fishes. Bull racing and horse racing are also favorites. The grassy lands of the Lesser Sundas are famous for their breeds of wild ponies. Some Indonesians are pretty skillful gamblers, and you'd better watch your shirt if you try to stack up against them. Western amusements have also caught on around the towns: soccer, football, cricket, and to some extent tennis and golf. There were movies in the larger towns. Indonesians are very fond, as we are, of Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse films, especially since animals are often the main characters in their own folk tales. You should find chances to swim, and perhaps to hunt, though it is best to inquire first about local conditions.

Women. It will be best to take matters slowly in getting to know the women. A yoo-hoo in the wrong place, and the local husband or lover might turn out to be a nasty customer. You will soon find out what girls and women are willing to walk out with strangers, or are allowed to do so by local conventions.

You'll find women treated differently here from the way we treat them in the United States. Most groups in the


Illustration of figures dancing.
Illustration of figures dancing.

Indies allow a man to have more than one wife, although, as a matter of fact, only a small number can afford that luxury.


Don't touch an Indonesian woman in public. It is improper even for husband and wife to go arm in arm, so don't offer to help a woman across the street. (Yet you will discover it is perfectly acceptable for men friends to hold hands!) Never enter a house where women are alone. In the cities there are prostitutes, but venereal disease is prevalent; don't take chances. If you do, take a prophylaxis treatment at once.

Eating. Feasting is an important part of every Indonesian celebration. Even the ordinary meal is a somewhat formal affair. Indonesian foods are for the most part very tasty and nutritious. The main dish is usually rice, to which dried fish, spices, and various kinds of vegetable sauces are added. The famous rijsttafel, a Dutch Colonial invention, is a dish which, in its most elaborate forms, may have as many as 20 different sauces added. Red chili peppers are used a great deal. For reasons of health, food is always eaten hot.

If you are being entertained, be sure to wait for your host to begin eating. A strict Moslem will say "grace." Unlike the Netherlander, who even uses a knife and fork to eat bread and butter, the ordinary Indonesian eats his rice with his fingers. If you don't know what to do, watch your host and follow suit.


Household Furnishings. In most Indonesian houses, furnishings will be very simple, with mats for beds and the floor as the main furniture.

Europeans, as well as Indonesians who can afford it, have bath and bedroom equipment which may at first puzzle the newcomer. You don't get into the bathtub but dip water out of it to douse yourself before and after soaping. The rows of water bottles beside the toilet are the equivalent of toilet paper. The bed, if there is any, will have a mosquito net. The long sausage like object on the bed is known as a "Dutch wife." Put it between your legs in hot, steamy weather to keep cool.

You'll find that toilet facilities in the Indies are, by American standards, exceedingly primitive. The Indonesians use streams or beaches as the only sewer systems available. Though this is a region of considerable nakedness, the people, nevertheless, have their own strict standards of decency and morality, and they rarely expose their bodies completely.

Clothing. There is much local variety in clothing, both in the kinds of clothes worn and the amount. In New Guinea, it is very scanty, except for the shells, feathers, and other ornaments worn on special occasions. Full dress in central Borneo, for instance, may be little more than a


gee string. Most Indonesians, however, wear the KA-in or waistcloth, or the skirtlike sarong (but the Indonesian variety isn't as short as Dorothy Lamour's). A kind of jacket called a BA-djoo usually covers the upper part of the body. Women's dress doesn't differ much from that of the men.

Moslem men wear a turban or a cap, as a rule. Children are likely to run about without any clothes until they are 6 or 7 years old. When you see an Indonesian wearing western-style shoes, you can be sure that he is an educated person.

Villages. The large cities of the Indies are picturesque combinations of modern buildings, traditional Dutch-style architecture, and crowded Oriental quarters. The population of the Indies is still mainly rural, but you won't find the Indonesian living off by himself like our farmers. He has always been used to living in village communities. Most of the people in a village are likely to be relatives, for often their ancestors have lived and married there for generations. You will see hundreds of these settlements, sometimes large but more often quite small, along the coasts and even in places high up in the mountains. The houses are likely to be rectangular in shape, made of bamboo and palm leaves, sometimes built on piles over the


Illustration of animals - pig deer, coconut monkey, rhinoceros, crocodile, and royal tiger.
Illustration of animals - pig deer, coconut monkey, rhinoceros, crocodile, and royal tiger.


Illustration of animals - tapir, year bird, lizards, marab, and mouse deer.
Illustration of animals - tapir, year bird, lizards, marab, and mouse deer.


water. In Java, the villages (DE-sa) look like little islands scattered through the irrigated rice fields (SA-wah). In the towns the Indonesian and Chinese residential quarters are known as KAM-pongs. This name is also often used for the villages.

Almost every community had, before the Japs took over, its own locally developed laws relating to such matters as land ownership, marriage, and inheritance of property. This "customary law", known as A-dat, was studied very carefully by the Dutch and as far as possible respected. Except in Bali and a few other islands, the A-dat is never written down but is passed along from generation to generation by word of mouth.

Getting a Living. Although some of the Indonesians grow cash crops or work for wages, you will find that the great majority live as their ancestors did, farming their little plots of land or fishing in the sea. In Java and the western islands, you will see their rice fields and their little patches of corn and sweet potatoes. Farther east, the main food is provided by the pith of the wild sago palm. Along the coastal regions, fishing is very important. Water buffaloes, cattle, and chickens are plentiful. Some of the people do a little hunting. Even in these days of machine-made cloth and other factory goods, home industries still exist. The


famous BA-tik cloth is still made to some extent in Java, and woodcarving, intricate metalworking, and the weaving of hats, mats, and other articles are carried on. The average community makes the bulk of what it needs or else gets it through minor trading such as has been carried on for centuries.

Language. You may wonder, with all the different local kinds of speech, how these people manage to communicate with one another. Some keep entirely to their own languages; but wherever groups have been in contact with other groups they have usually adopted as a supplementary tongue a kind of simplified or "pidgin" form of Malay, which is the nearest approach to a universal langauge in the Indies. This is called PA-sar ("market") Malay. Even if the elders in a village cannot speak it, there are usually younger men or schoolboys who can. It is also used by the Chinese, Arabs, and other immigrant groups.

PA-sar Malay, being a modified form of the Malay language, has a certain number of Portuguese, Chinese, and Dutch words, whose form has been altered to correspond to Malay pronunciation. It is not hard to pronounce, and there are no grammatical irregularities. A few hours spent on the material in the language section of this guide and


in listening to the language recordings, will get you to the point where you can make yourself understood.

Educated Indonesians learn literary Malay in school. Some of them make quite a point of it, and avoid using PA-sar Malay, except when there is no other language that can be used. Therefore, when you meet a person who might be educated, it is recommended that you first speak to him in English. If he doesn't understand, inform him you can't speak Dutch, by using the Dutch phrase, ik fur-STAH hayn HO-lans, or the Malay phrase which is SA-ya TIda BI-da bi-CHA-ra B'LAN-da. Then try out your PA-sar Malay.

Indonesians generally consider it impolite to argue, contradict, or even to give a disappointing answer. The important thing is to please, rather than tell the facts. They may say they agree with you, even when they don't; or consent to do something, even though they know it isn't possible. Be as specific as possible when you ask questions.


MOST of the islands of the Indies can be sighted from far out at sea. Usually they have high mountains in the center and narrow coastal flats which here and there open out into large plains. In New Guinea there are mountains


nearly 15,000 feet high (about the size of Mount Rainier in the State of Washington) which are snow-capped the year around. Particularly in the western part of the islands around Java and Sumatra, there are more than 300 volcanoes, 60 of which are still active. The most famous volcano in this region, and perhaps in the world, was Krakatoa which blew itself up in 1883 with a blast that was heard 3,000 miles away. The ash from these volcanoes which forms the soil of many of the islands accounts for a good deal of the richness of the land. That richness is the reason why Java, an island the size of New York State, can support 48,000,000 people.

The seas around the islands are mostly shallow since at one time the main western islands were a part of the Asiatic mainland, as proved by the fact that Asiatic animals live on them. Sumatra and Borneo have elephants, rhinoceroses, and apes, and there are tigers and panthers in Sumatra, Java, and Bali.

As you go farther east the plant and animal types that are typical of Asia begin to thin out and are replaced by those which are peculiar to Australia - the mound-building megapod birds, cockatoos, birds-of-paradise, and pouched animals like the wallaby (bush kangaroo).

Throughout the Indies there is a wide variety of snakes, including huge pythons and the deadly cobra.


You will see coconut trees, bamboo, and rattan. In Borneo and Sumatra there are vast tropical rain forests, whereas, in contrast, the Lesser Sundas from the island of Lombok to the Timor region have grassy, even dry areas, parched by the winds that come from the Australian deserts.

If you get a chance to examine the underwater world of the Indies, you will find it as fascinating as the colorful plants and animals of its great forests.

Harbors and Cities. The Indies have a number of good harbors, and around them the cities and towns have usually grown up. Batavia, the capital, where the Dutch first established themselves on Java, is now a city of over 600,000 people; Soerabaja, also on Java, has 400,000. Their two ports, named respectively Tandjoeng Priok and Tan-djoeng Perak, are the busiest in the Indies.

In Sumatra, Belawan is the largest port, serving the city of Medan. Others are Palembang on the Moesi River, Padang on the west coast, and Sabang in the extreme northwest. On Borneo, the main ports are Pontianak, Bandjermasin, and Balikpapan, the chief oil center. Farther east, the most important towns are Makassar and Menado in the Celebes, and Ambon (Amboina) in the Moluccas. Long before the white man arrived, most of these places were busy resorts for native boats (P'RA-oo), for the


craft of Arab and Indian traders, and for Chinese junks. In this part of the world, the sea is the great connecting highroad.

Climate. The equator cuts right across Sumatra and Borneo, so you need not be told that the climate is tropical, with little seasonal variation. Yet much of the time it is not uncomfortably hot. There is usually a refreshing breeze, and the sea has a cooling effect. In places like this you watch, not the temperature (it rarely hits even 90 degrees), but the humidity. The humid days sap your energies and fray your temper. If you are in mountain country, it may be quite chilly at night and in the early morning.

Instead of winter and summer, you will find a wet and dry or east monsoon season in most of the islands, although in the northern parts of the Greater Sundas and New Guinea and in the Moluccas there are heavy rains throughout the year. The dry season is from May to September. The west monsoon, which blows from November to March, brings the wet season, which is at its height in January. At that time the western islands get almost daily downpours. The periods of change from one season to the other are called kenteringen weather and are marked by storms, accompanied by thunder and lightning.


Normally the monsoon winds are not strong, and the nights are calm and still. Yet heavy local gales sometimes occur. Rain almost always falls in brief downpours in the late afternoon and night. During the wet season, small streams become rushing torrents and cause floods (BAN-djir) that often do much damage. But the floods also bring rich mud from the uplands to fertilize the age-old rice fields.


THE Indies area is like a huge melting pot where, for thousands of years, different streams of humans have merged, and in turn, spilled over eastward into the farther islands of the Pacific. At the very beginning we find the shadowy "ape man" of Java, known to science as Pithecanthropus erectus. You may have heard about this "ape man," popularly known as the missing link. But he's more like a distant cousin than a direct ancestor of yours and since he's been dead for thousands of years you won't be running into him.

Later, but still in ancient times, groups of short black folk (Negritos) and heavy-browed people, something like the aborigines of Australia today, moved into this area. Following them came taller brown-skinned peoples. You may see traces of all these human breeds in the large


western islands. Out of Asia came still others, this time of a more "Mongoloid" or Malayan type. They gradually flooded the coastal areas, and in the western islands nearly submerged the older groups. In other areas they married and mixed to form intermediate peoples like the Alfurs of the Molucca region.

Added to the melting pot during the last 2,000 years have been Hindus from India, Arabs, Chinese, and finally European peoples, all mingling to some extent.

As you go back from the coastal cities to the mountains, and as you pass from east to west through the Indies, you will be able to trace this story roughly in the many different peoples you see.

All this accounts for the development of so many different kinds of local custom and speech. For instance, there are today at least 250 major language groups in the area. You'll find, too, that the peoples of the Indies are still first and foremost citizens of their own ancestral localities.

Only slowly is a common feeling of being Indonesian spreading among the mass of the people. As it does so, however, it arouses a keen sense of pride and patriotism. The Indonesians may well be looked upon as a people and a nation in the making.


Map of Netherlands East Indies.
Map of Netherlands East Indies.


Ancient History. The Indonesians have had an interesting and dramatic history. In early days the local peoples were broken up into many little independent tribes and communities, which were often at war with one another. Then about the beginning of the Christian era, Hindu traders and missionaries from India began to organize the Indonesians in parts of Sumatra and Java. Before long, a number of "Indo-Malayan" states took form, often headed by princes from Hindu royal houses.

By the sixth century A. D., a great Sumatran empire called Sri-Vidjaya, with its capital in Palembang, had grown up. It was during this period, about 850 A. D., that the huge Buddhist shrine called the Borobudhur was built in central Java, one of the most amazing stone structures in the world.

In the fourteenth century, the Sumatran empire was overthrown by the Javanese. A new and even


Illustration of Indonesian.
Illustration of Indonesian.

greater empire took form in Java. This was the mighty Madjapahit. The traditional poetry and dramatic plays of the Javanese today tell about this great kingdom. Probably you've never heard of all this, but to the Javanese it is as important as the history of the American Revolution, or the Civil War, is to us.

During this time, a new religion was being brought into the area by Arab and Indian traders who were followers of the prophet Mohammed. The religion is called Islam, and its followers are called Moslems. The Moslems slowly increased their influence and finally, in 1478, the Moslem flag, with its crescent symbol, flew over the Javanese capital. The Javanese rulers and nobles fled to Bali taking with them their Brahman worship, the old Hindu religion born in India, which still prevails today.

The Moslems broke Indonesia up again into a great number of separate little states, usually ruled by princes (sultans) who had come as Moslem missionaries and who claimed descent from Mohammed.

The Dutch and the Portuguese. This was the situation in 1511, when the ships of Portugal broke in on the scene to conquer the main Mohammedan strongholds. The Dutch in turn ousted the Portuguese, leaving them only the east half of Timor. But the Dutch were interested in trade


rather than politics. Usually they made treaties with the local princes or chiefs which opened the way for their merchants and kept out possible rivals. Even in Java, where Dutch control was more complete, four Indonesian states have been allowed to continue with a large measure of self-government, notably the two great states of Soera-karta and Djokjakarta.

It was only around the beginning of the twentieth century that the Dutch set out to explore and bring under control the areas outside Java. Where necessary, the Dutch defeated troublesome princes by force of arms and put puppet princes on the thrones, but in general the Dutch policy was to interfere as little as possible with the ruling princes or with local customs.

Government Today. When the Japanese moved in, there were still about 270 native states throughout the Indies, thoroughly but unobtrusively supervised by Dutch officials, with native princes on the Dutch pay roll. Other parts of the Indies were ruled more directly, but there, too, local leaders were used a great deal. All this resulted in a complicated system of administration, with a whole army of officials - Dutch, Indo-European (people of mixed ancestry), and Indonesian - needed to run it. In recent years, the more educated Indonesians,


especially the Javanese, have been seized with a growing spirit of nationalism. Many nationalist organizations have arisen. Some have sought to build up pride in the cultural heritage of the Indonesians or to improve economic conditions. Most of them however have tried to secure political independence even to the point of cutting loose from the Netherlands. As a result, the Dutch grew increasingly liberal, giving more and more

Illustration of an Indonesian and a musical instrument.
Illustration of an Indonesian and a musical instrument.

representation in Government affairs to Indonesian leaders. Long ago they stopped calling the Indies a "colony" and were steering them toward a largely self-governing status, with all population groups having a say by way of a "People's Council." Nevertheless, many of the extreme anti-Dutch nationalists were not satisfied with this and wanted to get rid of the Dutch at any cost. However, there are probably not many Indonesians who support Japan, for they had opportunity even before the war to see what kind of thing Japan's new order is.

Illustration of temples.
Illustration of temples.



YOU'RE in the Indies to fight until the last Jap is driven out. One of your duties is to keep in shape to fight. By and large the Indies are healthful, but there are some simple things to look out for.

In all places where the thermometer is high, the general idea seems to be that you'll automatically get sunstroke. Actually the fact is that in nondesert tropics, sunstroke is rare, if you lead an active life and don't drink strong spirits. Nevertheless don't expose the back of your neck. Beware of sunburn when you are in the hills, the more so the higher you go, even though it gets cooler.

Everywhere in the tropics there is a sudden drop in temperature at about 2 or 3 a. m. For this reason, it is a good idea for newcomers to wrap something (a towel will do) around them just so they have something to keep out the damp chill. What happens is that you catch a chill in your intestines, which causes disturbances, and in turn, leaves you wide open for the real dysentery bug.

Intestinal diseases are prevalent everywhere in the Orient - dysentery, typhoid, and paratyphoid. Before the war the Dutch had succeeded in stamping out cholera in the island, but wartime conditions may bring it to life again.

Always be sure your water has been either boiled or


chlorinated. Milk must always be boiled. Never eat unwashed vegetables; only cooked ones have the bugs boiled out of them. Always wash and peel fruits.

Never go barefoot. You get hookworm that way.

Trachoma, a very common disease of the eye, can be picked up almost everywhere, even from shaking hands with someone and then touching your eyes. Don't rub or touch your eyes.

One of the most serious menaces you'll run into is the malaria mosquito.

When you're in camp, don't forget to put up your mosquito net (klamboe). And if you're out where you can't lug it along, get your daily dose of quinine.

These necessary precautions may be a nuisance at first, but pretty soon you'll be doing them without thinking. They are important to you and to your country.

Venereal diseases are common, often in a very virulent form. The people have built up such an immunity that they may be quite unaware that they can act as carriers.

If you expose yourself to venereal disease at any time, take a prophylaxis. If you are too remote from medical service to take that precaution, then stay away from women.



Currency. Up to the time the Japs took over, the currency was based upon that of the Netherlands, but paper money and coins were of a special local type. The standard money unit is the guilder or florin (in Malay roopiah), which breaks down into 100 cents (in Malay sen). The Indies' guilder was equivalent to a little over 50 cents in U.S. currency. Bank notes were issued for the following values of guilders: 1, 2.50, 5, 10, 20, 25, 30, 40, 50, 100, 200, 300, 500, 1,000. Coins were as follows:

Value Local name and metal Approximate worth
in U.S.A. money
2½ guilders rijksdaalder, or RING-git, silver $1.32     
1 guilder gulden, or ROO-pi-ah, silver 53    cents
50 cents halve gulden or S'TE-ngah, silver 26    cents
25 cents kwartje (quarter) or TA-len, silver 13    cents
10 cents dubbeltje, or PI-Chis or K'TIP, silver 5.3 cents
5 cents stuiver, or LI-na SEN, nickel 2.6 cents
2½ cents GO-hang or BENG-gal, copper 1.3 cents
1 cent SEN, copper 0.5 cents
½ cent S'TE-ngah-SEN, copper 0.3 cents

In Bali, the lowest coin is an antique Chinese copper coin with a hole in the middle, called Keping. It has no fixed value, but in 1940 was worth about an eighth of a cent.


Time Reckoning. The Dutch introduced western methods of counting time by means of clocks and calendars like our own. But the majority of the peoples depend on the sun to tell time, as their ancestors did. Each language group has its own words for periods of day and night. The Moslem day begins at sunset (not at midnight as with us), and the Balinese day begins at sunrise. The time on Java is 12½ hours ahead of that in New York (Standard Time), so that 8 a.m. on Monday in Batavia, is only 7:30 p.m. on Sunday on Broadway.

Illustration of an Indonesian woman.
Illustration of an Indonesian woman.


The calendars also vary particularly through the influence of religion and the cycle of religious festivals. The Javanese and some Balinese, for example, use a special Javanese calendar. Bali also has a Hindu type of calendar. The Moslem calendar is used on Java along with the local one, and is current in the Islamic parts of Sumatra. The Chinese have their own methods of reckoning. Finally, to the extent that all these peoples enter into western civilization, they take note of the Christian calendar. All this gives plenty of room for the celebration of holidays.

Weights and Measures. Here, too, the Indonesian peoples still use their traditional systems, with the addition of the European metric system used in the Netherlands. The principal weights in general use are:

1 PI-koal = 61,76 kilograms = 136.23 pounds.
1 GAN-tang = 0.10 PI-koals = 6.18 kilograms.
1 KA-ti = 0.01 pikoels = 0.62 kilograms.
1.36 pounds.
1 kilogram (kilo) = 1,000 grams = 2.2 pounds.

The term pikoel refers to the load which can normally be carried on a pikoelan or shoulder pole. The gantang is a standardized basketful.

The European units of length are the meter (about 39 inches) and kilometer (1,000 meters, about 0.6214 mile).


The standard Indonesian measure is the PAL. This is equivalent to 1.507 kilometers, or 0.943 mile. Volume is reckoned in the European liter, which is the capacity of a kilogram weight of water, or a little more than a quart. Area is based partly on the European hectare (2.47 acres) and partly on the Javanese BA-oo, which is 0.71 of a hectare, or 7,100 square meters, or 1.75 acres.


DON'T use the term "native" or other words that may carry a stigma. The term "Indo" should never be used to refer to an Indo-European.

Remember the people in the Indies don't draw any color line.

Bargaining is the accepted mode of buying. Don't throw your money away. Be polite and treat buying as though it were a game. You'll be much more respected if you are a good bargainer.

Be careful about swearing in public. An Indonesian who hears you may think you are trying to put a curse on him and if he has bad luck he may blame you.

Keep a grip on yourself. To an Indonesian the first rule of good conduct is self-control. Avoid getting drunk, boasting, or fighting in public. In the WA-yang plays of Java the loudmouths are the clowns and villains.


Be friendly and polite. Courtesy counts a great deal in this part of the world. The expression for "Thank you" is T'RI-ma KA-sih.

If Indonesian workers erect a building for you, be sure to give them a selamatan (feast) when it is finished, in order to appease the spirits.

Keep away from Moslem mosques. Be quiet around all other places of worship and show respect for rituals.

Keep silent when Moslems are praying and don't stare.

Don't argue politics and above all don't discuss religion.

Follow your host's lead when invited out to dinner. If he eats with his fingers, follow suit.

Don't offer Moslems pork. This food is taboo to them. It's better not to eat pork or pork products in front of Moslems.

Keep away from local women until you know the ropes. Above all, don't touch them in public.

Be generous and share your cigarettes.

Above all, use your common sense.

Illustration of an Indonesian.
Illustration of an Indonesian.


THESE are pronunciation hints to help you in listening to the Malay language records that have been supplied to your troop unit. They will also help you with the pronunciation of additional words and phrases not included in the records and which are given in the Additional Words and Phrases.

Malay is spoken over a large area from the southern borders of Siam to the south and east across the numerous islands of the Netherlands Indies. The PA-sar (bazaar or market) type of Malay that you hear on the records, will be understandable and usable throughout all the regions where Malay is spoken.

This is the form of Malay used by the ordinary people. However, some educated Indonesians are a little "touchy" about using this form of the language. Therefore, if you meet a person who you think might be educated, you should first ask him if he knows English. If not, then proceed with PA-sar Malay, which he, of course, knows in addition to the literary Malay he would prefer to speak.

Malay is a very easy language to pronounce and to speak. The instructions and vocabulary here are given in a simplified system of representing the language as it sounds. This system is slightly different from both the writing used in British Malay and that used in the


Illustration of 2 cows.
Illustration of 2 cows.

Netherland-Indies, but it is near enough to both so that learning to read Malay in either of these two systems will not be hard for you.

Here are a few simple points to bear in mind:

1. Accents. You know what the accented syllable of a word is, of course. It is the part of a word spoken louder than other parts of the same word. We shall represent the accented (loud) syllables in capital letters and the unaccented syllables in small letters. Actually the accent in Malay is fairly even and not rigidly fixed on any one syllable of a word, so that it may seem to vary from


one time to the next, but it will help you get the "feel" of Malay if you speak the syllables louder which are written in capital letters.

2. Vowels. Follow the key below and you will have no trouble:

A or a equals the vowel of father, but sometimes varies a little so that it sounds about like the u of cut. Example: AM-pat meaning "four", B'RA-pa meaning "how much"?
E or e equals the vowel of get or yeh. Sometimes it seems to sound like ay in day, but it is always more like eh. Examples: BE-sok meaning "tomorrow", k'ma-REN "yesterday", ta-BE meaning "hello".
I or i equals a sound that varies from the i of machine to the i of ring. Examples: TI-da meaning "no" or "not", da-GING meaning "meat".
O or o equals a sound a little like the o of go, but more like the o of gone or for. Examples: O-rang meaning "man", BE-sok. meaning "tomorrow".
OO or oo equals a sound that varies from the oo of food to the oo of good. Examples: ROO-mah meaning "house", POO-kool meaning "to strike".
(')   equals a very short vowel like the a of about or sofa. Examples: B'LI meaning "to buy", S'KA-rang meaning "now", m'ng-AR-TI meaning "to understand".


3. Consonants. Pronounce the consonant letters just as you know them in English. Never "slight" them. Here are some points to pay attention to particularly:

h is pronounced even at the end of a word. In this position it sounds like letting out your breath. Listen for it on the record. Example: TOO-djooh meaning "seven."
g is always the g in get, never the g in gin.
s is always the ss in kiss, never the s in rose.
dj is like the dg in ridge.
nˬy (n and y connected by a curved line) represent an n and a y pronounced together as in Canyon but less separated. Example: NˬYO-nˬya meaning "madam."



HERE is a list of the most useful words and phrases you will need in Malay. You should learn these by heart. They are the words and phrases included on the Malay language records, and appear here in the order they occur on the records.

Greetings and General Phrases
English Simplified Malay Spelling
Hello or goodbye ta-BE
Good morning S'LA-mat PA-gi
Good evening S'LA-mat MA-lem
Sir and Mister too-AN
Madam N YO-n ya
Please MIN-ta
Thank you T'RI-ma KA-sih
Yes i-YA
No TI-da
Do you understand? A-pa KA-moo m'ng-AR-TI
I don't understand SA-ya TI-da m'ng-AR-TI
Please speak slowly MIN-ta bi-CHA-ra PLAN PLAN
Where is... di-MA-na
the restaurant ROO-mah MA-kan
Where is the restaurant: di-MA-na ROO-mah MA-kan
the hotel HO-TEL


English Simplified Malay Spelling
Where is the hotel? di-MA-na HO-TEL
railroad station S'TAT-si-YON ka-RE-ta A-pi
Where is the railroad station? di-MA-na S'TAT-si-YON ka-RE-ta A-pi
a toilet, in the city KA-mar ke-CHIL
a toilet, in the country KA-mar ka-KOOS
Where is a toilet? di-MA-na KA-mar ke-CHIL or di-MA-na KA-mar ka-KOOS
Go right DJA-lan KA-nan
Go left DJA-lan KI-ri
Go straight ahead DJA-lan T'ROOS
Please point MIN-ta TOON-DJOOK
If you are driving and ask the distance to another town, it will be given you in kilometers, not miles.
Kilometer KI-lo-ME-t'r
One kilometer equals 5/8 of a mile.
One SA-too
Two DOO-a
Three TI-ga
Four AM-pat
Five LI-ma
Six A-nem
Seven TOO-djooh


English Simplified Malay Spelling
Eight d'la-PAN
Nine s'm-BI-LAN
Ten sa-POO-looh
Eleven sa-B'LAS
Twelve DOO-a B'LAS
"Thirteen", "Fourteen", etc., are simply the words for "three", "four", etc., followed by B'LAS.
Twenty DOO-a POO-looh
Thirty Tl-ga POO-looh
"Forty", "fifty", etc., are simply the words for "four", "five", etc., followed by POO-looh. "Twenty-one", "thirty-two", etc., are simply the words for "twenty", "thirty", etc., followed by "one", "two", etc., just as in English.
One hundred sa-RA-toos
One hundred and fifty-three sa-RA-toos LI-ma POO-looh TI-ga
One thousand sa-RI-boo
What A-pa
This I-ni
What's this? A-pa l-ni
I want SA-ya MA-oo
to eat MA-kan
I want to eat SA-ya MA-oo MA-kan
to drink MI-noom
I want to drink SA-ya MA-oo MI-noom


English Simplified Malay Spelling
Bread RO-ti
Butter man-TE-ga
Sugar GOO-la
Salt GA-ram
Eggs te-LOR
Soup SOP
Vegetables sa-YOO-ran
Potatoes k'n-TANG
Rice NA-si
Vegetable broth served with the rice sa-YOOR
Fish I-kan
Meat da-GING
Steak bi-STIK
Fruit BOO-ah
Drinking water A-yer MI-noom
Ice water A-yer ES
Tea TE
A glass of beer SA-too G'LAS BIR
A cup of coffee SA-too MANG-kok ko-PI
When you want to buy something, you say "I want to buy".
to buy B'LI
I want to buy cigarettes SA-ya MA-oo B'LI "cigarette"


English Simplified Malay Spelling
I want to buy matches SA-ya MA-oo B'LI ko-REK A-pi
To find out how much things cost you say "How much the price of it"
How much B'RA-pa
the price of it kar-GA-nˬya
How much does it cost? B'RA-pa har-GA-nˬya
Strike POO-kool
How much B'RA-pa
Now S'KA-rang
What time is it? POO-kool BRA-pa s'ka-RANG
One o'clock POO-kool SA-too
Ten past two POO-kool DOO-a L'BIH s'poo-LOOH
Quarter past five POO-kool LI-ma L'BIH sa-PRA-pat
Half past six S'TENG-ah too-DjOOH
Quarter of eight POO-kool D'LA-pan koo-RANG sa-PRA-pat
Three minutes to nine POO-kool s'm-BI-LAN kpo-RANG TI-ga
begins to play moo-LA-in MA-in
the movie bi-o-SKOP
When does the movie start? POO-kool B'RA-pa moo-LA-in MA-in bi-o-SKOP
the train ka-RE-ta A-pi
leaves B'RANG-kat
When does the train leave? POO-kool B'RA-pa ka-RE-ta A-pi B'RANG-kat
Yesterday k'ma-REN
Today l'ni HA-ri
Tomorrow BE-sok


English Simplified Malay Spelling
Sunday HA-ri MING-goo
Monday HA-ri S'NEN
Tuesday HA-ri s'la-SA
Wednesday HA-ri R'BO
Thursday HA-ri ka-MIS
Friday HA-ri djoo-ma-HAT
Saturday HA-ri sap-TOO
Friday night MA-lem sap-TOO
Useful Phrases
What is your name? si-A-pa NA-ma-nˬya KA-moo
What is the name of this in Malay? I-ni A-pa NA-ma-nˬya M'LA-yoo
Goodbye (by person bidding goodbye) S'LA-mat DJA-lam (Go in peace")
Goodbye (by person leaving) S'LA-mat TlNG-gal ("Remain in peace")


Surroundings - Natural Objects
bank (of river) PING-gir KA-li
daytime SI-ang HA-ri
field (open space) LA-pang
field (irrigated rice field) SA-wah


English Simplified Malay Spelling
field (meadow or plain) PA-dang
fire A-pi
forest or woods OO-tan
jungle RIM-ba
grass ROOM-poot
the ground TA-nah
gully or ravine DJOO-rang
hill GOO-noong ke-CHIL or BOO-kit
mountain GOO-noong
lake te-LA-ga
swamp TA-nah PA-ya
the moon BOO-lan
the sea LA-oot
the ocean LA-oo-TAN
rain OO-djan
river or stream KA-li
spring or fountain PAN-choo-ran
stars bin-TANG
the sun MA-ta HA-ri
wind A-ngin
day HA-ri
day after tomorrow BE-sok LOO-sa or BE-sok NOO-sa
day before yesterday K'MA-ren DOO-loo


English Simplified Malay Spelling
evening SO-re
month BOO-lan
night MA-lam
week MING-goo
year TA-oon
time when it is dark WAK-too G'LAP
general word for brothers, sisters, cousins,
      and other close relatives
elder brother A-bang
younger brother A-dek
elder sister KA-kang
younger sister A-dek
child A-nak
boy or son A-nak L'LA-ki
girl or daughter A-nak p'ram-POO-an
father BA-pa
family A-nak BI-ni
man O-rang or O-rang L'LA-ki
mother I-boo or MA-mah
woman O-rang p'ram-POO-an
wife BI-ni
husband LA-ki


Human Body
English Simplified Malay Spelling
arm or hand TA-ngan
back B'LA-kang
body BA-dan
ears KOO-ping
eyes MA-ta
finger DJA-ri
foot and leg KA-ki
hair RAM-boot
head ka-PA-la
mouth MOO-loot
neck LE-her
nose I-doong
teeth GI-GI
toe DJA-ri-KA-ki
House and Furniture
bed t'm-PAT TI-door
blanket S'LI-moot
chair KOR-si or K'RO-si
door PIN-too
house ROO-mah
kitchen DA-poor
mosquito net K'LAM-boo
room KA-mar
ladder or stairs TANG-ga


English Simplified Malay Spelling
stove (cooking place) DA-poor
table ME-dja
bathroom KA-mar MAN-di
wall t'm-BOK
water for bathing A-yer MAN-di
window djan-DE-la
Food and Drink - Tobacco
bananas PI-sang
beans BOON-chis
cabbage KOL
chocolate CHOK-LAT
cigars S'ROO-too
coconuts (for drinking) K'LA-pa MOO-da
cucumbers K'TI-moon
food MA-ka-nan
ice ES
ice cream ES-krim
jam S'LE
lemons DJ'ROOK NI-pis
mangoes MANG-ga
oranges DJ'ROOK MA-nis
orange juice A-yer DJ'ROOK MA-nis
pineapples NA-nas
pepper LA-da


English Simplified Malay Spelling
papaya pa-PA-ya
peanuts KA-chang
rice (fried with ham) NA-si GO-reng
shrimp OO-dang
tobacco t'm-BA-ko
tomatoes TO-mat
wine ANG-goor
bridge djem-BA-tan
church G'RE-dja
city KO-ta
local club (billiard room, etc.) KA-mar BO-la
market PA-sar
mosque MAS-DjID
path (trail, pass) DJA-lan ke-CHIlL
post office KAN-tor POS
police post KAN-tor po-LI-si
road DjA-la-nan
shop (store) TO-KO
street STRAT
town KO-ta
village DE-sa
well SOO-moor or FRI-gi


English Simplified Malay Spelling
animal bi-NA-tang
bird BOO-roong
buffalo kar-BO
chicken (hen) A-yam
cat KOO-ching
cow SA-PI
crocodile boo-A-ya
dog AN-djing
duck BE-BEK
goat KAM-bing
horse KOO-da
house lizard CHI-CHAK
rat or mouse TI-koos
pig BA-bi
shark I-kan CHOO-choot
sheep DOM-ba
snake OO-lar
scorpion KA-la
ants S'MOOT
flies la-LAR
fleas KOO-too AN-djing
mosquitoes NˬY A-MOOK
lice KOO-too


English Simplified Malay Spelling
leech pa-CHET
bedbugs TING-gi
white ants RA-yap
Trades and Occupations
baker TOO-kang RO-ti
barber TOO-kang CHOO-koor
blacksmith TOO-kang B'SI
butcher TOO-kang da-GING
cook KO-ki
farmer O-rang TA-ni
laundry man TOO-kang P'NA-too
attendant O-pas or O-pas DJA-ga
policeman O-pas po-LI-si
mechanic moon-TIR
shoemaker TOO-kang S'PA-too
tailor TOO-kang DJA-it
villager O-rang DE-sa
servant boy DJO-ngos
servant girl BA-boo
first YANG p'r-TA-ma
second YANG ka-DOO-a
third, etc. YANG ka-TI-ga


English Simplified Malay Spelling
belt TA-li PING-gang
coat DJAS
rain-coat DJAS oo-DJAN
hat TO-pi
necktie DA-si
shirt KA-ME-dja
shoes S'PA-too
shorts CH'LA-na PEN-DEK
socks SA-rong KA-ki or KA-oos KA-ki
sweater BA-djoo PA-nas
trousers CH'LA-na
undershirt KA-oos KOO-tang
undershorts CH'LA-na DA-lem
good BA-ik, or ba-GOOS
bad TI-da ba-GOOS or dja-LEK
big B'SAR
small ke-CHIL
sick sa-KIT
well BA-ik or SE-hat (in good health)
hungry LA-par
thirsty A-oos but usually MA-oo MI-noom
black I-tam
white poo-TIH
red me-RAH


English Simplified Malay Spelling
blue BI-roo
green I-djo
yellow KOO-ning
high TING-gi
low REN-dah
long PAN-djang
short PEN-DEK
deep DA-lem
shallow TI-da DA-lem or che-TEK
cold DI-ngin
hot PA-nas
wet BA-sah
dry K'RING
expensive MA-hal
cheap MOO-rah
empty KO-song
full P'NOOH
heavy B'RAT
light EN-teng
ready K'LAR
clean b'r-SIH
dirty ko-TOR
old TOO-wah
new BA-roo
young MOO-DA
other LA-in
happy or contented S'NANG


English Simplified Malay Spelling
I SA-ya
you and I - that is, "we"
      including the person you are speaking to
he and I or they and I - that is, "we"
not including the person you are speaking to
you KA-moo (this word is used when you do not know a person's name and when it is not appropriate to use the word too-AN meaning "sir")
he or she DI-a
you (plural) KA-moo O-rang
they DI-a O-rang
this, these I-ni
that, those I-too
my, mine SA-ya POO-nˬya (comes before noun) or SA-ya (follows noun)
our, ours KI-ta POO-nˬya (comes before noun) or KI-ta (follows noun)
your, yours KA-moo POO-nˬya (comes before noun) or KA-moo (follows noun)
their, theirs DI-a O-rang POO-nˬya (comes before noun) or DI-a O-rang (follows noun)
who? si-A-pa


English Simplified Malay Spelling
what? A-pa
which? YANG MA-na
how BA-gi MA-na
when? KA-pan
who, that, which (relative pronoun) YANG
how far B'RA-pa DJA-ooh
much, many BA-n yak
how much or how many B'RA-pa
anyone S'YA-pa S'YA-pa
somebody SA O-rang
everybody O-rang sa-moo-A
for boo-AT
from DA-ri
in DI
into ka-DA-lem
inside di-DA-lem
with SA-ma or DE-NGAN
without TI-da PA-ke
like sep'r-TEE
also DJOO-ga
above, on top di-A-tas
below di-BA-wah


English Simplified Malay Spelling
already, done, finished, SOO-DAH
enough again, once again SA-too KA-li LA-gi
behind di-B'LA-kang
at the side sa-B'LAH
at the left side sa-B'LAH KI-ri
at the right side sa-B'LAH KA-nan
back k'm-BA-li
far DJA-ooh
near D'KAT
here di-SI-ni
there di-SA-na
in front di-MOO-ka or di-D'PAN
little, a little S'DI-kitt
more (in addition) LA-gi
more (comparative) L'BIH
some be-B'RA-pa
not yet B'LOOM (used for most negative answers like "I don't know yet," "I haven't eaten yet.")
enough CHOO-KOOP
together b'r-SA-ma SA-ma
very (comes after adjective)
still, yet (comes before adjective) MA-SIH
too (excessively)
      (comes before adjective)


English Simplified Malay Spelling
and DAN
but T'TA-pi
if KA-lo or a-TA-oo
Do you speak English, sir? A-pa TOO-an bi CHA-ra ING-gris
I don't speak Dutch SA-ya TI-da bi-CHA-ra B'LAN-da
I speak only a little Malay SA-ya bi-CHA-ra M'LA-yoo S'DI-kit SA-dja
I want a place to sleep TOO-loong1 MIN-ta t'm-PAT M'NOOM-pang TI-door
How far is a village from here? B'RA-pa DJA-ooh DA-ri SI-ni ka DE-sa
What date is today? I-ni HA-ri TANG-gal B'RA-pa
Today is the fifth of June BOO-lan YOO-ni ("June") I-ni HA-ri TANG-gal LI-ma
What day of the week? I-ni HA-ri, HA-ri A-pa
Today is Tuesday I-ni HA-ri S'LA-sa
Come here MA-ri SI-ni
Come quickly MA-ri L'KAS
Go quickly DJA-lan L'KAS
What do you want? MA-oo A-pa

1 TOO-loong expresses the idea of helping, and should be used when you need help.


English Simplified Malay Spelling
Bring some drinking water MIN-ta BA-wa A-yer MI-noom
Bring some food MIN-ta BA-wa MA-ka-nan
How far is the camp from here? B'RA-pa DJA-ooh DA-ri SI-ni ka kam-pe-MEN
How far is water? di-MA-na A-yer YANG D'KAT SI-ni
Be careful! or Danger! A-WAS! or A-ti Ati!
Wait a minute! TOONG-goo sa-ben-TAR!
Is there... ? A-da2...
I am sick SA-ya sa-KIT
Who are you? KA-moo si-A-pa
Whose house is this? ROO-mah I-ni si-A-pa POO-n ya
I haven't any money SA-ya TI-da A-da WANG
I have cigarettes SA-ya A-da "cigarettes"
I am an American Soldier SA-ya ser-DA-doo "America"
I am your friend SA-ya te-MAN SA-ya so-DA-ra

2 A-da expresses the idea of existing, being present; for example TI-da A-da "not there", B'LOOM A-da "not yet there", A-da GOO-la, A-da S'MOOT "where there is sugar there will be ants".


Illustration of a Dyak warrior.
Illustration of a Dyak warrior.



Published: Wed Dec 02 14:04:37 EST 2020