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10 Ways How do Indonesian Greet Each Other

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When meeting a friend or someone you know at school, at work, even in a public place, greeting each other is a mandatory thing to do. Moreover, Indonesian people is popular with their friendly and polite attitude. The greeting activity seems become something common in Indonesia . Each country has its own greeting culture.


When in Western countries hugging each other and kissing can be done to greet someone, but not with Indonesia. So, here are the ways how do Indonesian greet each other

  1. Shaking Hand

Shaking hand in Indonesia is the most common way to greet each other. Handshaking is usually done when two people meet for the first time or also the form of greeting the friends. Surely you often see this in everyday life.

That’s one way Indonesians introduce themselves or say hello. This is common and familiar to everyday life. Besides being used to greet someone, this tradition will usually be used when interviewing, introducing yourself, meeting relatives or family.

People in Indonesia usually mention handshaking by Salim (Indonesia). This movement is aimed to show respect to their older people. They take the old man’s hand and taped it to his forehead, not infrequently they kissed his hand.

  1. Nodding and smiling is enough

In Indonesia, sometimes nodding and smiling is also the form of greeting the people. It is done when they greet the people whom they are not closed enough, but they know each other. They will do these expressions to greet someone that they respect such as teacher, elder people, neighbor, even the strangers that they have never known before.

While passing through the crowds, Indonesians will also nod and smile as the social code to ask the permission to pass. You know that the basic characteristics of Indonesian people are friendly and welcome to everyone. That is why, it would be better if you practice this expression while visiting Indonesia.

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  1. Using vehicle horn

The vehicle horn has been designed with certain noise levels. The horn can be used for symbols of greeting or even warning. While greeting someone whom they know on the road, they give the twice short sound of horn and no more.

Using it with long click and long sound would be considered as rude. When honking, they would not interfere with other riders. They may be surprised and lose focus, or be offended by the sound. The function of the horn is to give voice of warnings and greetings among fellow road users. Honking the horn is obviously ethical

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  1. Calling the name by Pak or Bu for the honorable people

In Indonesia, calling Pak to the old man is also a form of greeting. It is the part of politeness. While for older woman, greeting her by Bu followed by the name is also the form to respect someone. Pak and Bu is actually to call or greet the elder people or more honorable people.

In English, Pak means sir or Mister which is the abbreviation of Bapak. Pak Mulyono means Mr. Mulyono. However, Bu is the abbreviation from Ibu (married female). As the example I Rida means Ms. Rida.

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  1. Saying mas or mbak to respect older people

You may also use mas or mbak for the younger people who haven’t married. This call is not related to the profession. So, it can be used for various people with various professions such as service providers, traders, even to ordinary people. “Mas” and “Mbak” in the daily life of the people in Indonesia are also used to unknown persons, who are above or equal to the user.

If being classified, this call is used to people aged between 17-35 years. While for the people under 17 is usually called “adik” and aged over 35 years are usually called “Pak” and “Bu“.

  1. Saying Apa kabar for asking how someone doing

Some Indonesians usually expand their greeting by asking how someone is doing. The way to ask is apa kabar which means “how are you?” Interestingly, the literal translation is “what’s new / what is the news?” Then they would say the answer is baik (sounds like when you say “bike”) which means “well” or “good.” Sometimes it is said twice (baikbaik). Hopefully whomever you are asking doesn’t answer, tidak bagus or tidak baik  which means “not good.” If they reply with saya sakit, it means that they are sick.

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  1. Saying Assalamualaikum for Islamic people

For foreigners who have been stayed in Indonesia in a longer time, they must be familiar with the sentence of ‘Assalamualaikum.’ Moreover, some of them are fluent enough in pronouncing it. Yaps, this greeting is commonly used in Indonesia.

Although the word is originally from Arabic and basically used by the Muslims, it seems that the word has used for a universal language for Indonesians, no matter what religions they have. Assalamualaikum is  also used both for personal greetings and public speaking greetings.

  1. Using selamat pagi/siang/sore/malam to say hello

In Indonesia, the most common thing to greet people is by saying these following Indonesian greetings expression:

  • Selamat Pagi     : Good Morning
  • Selamat Siang   : Good afternoon
  • Selamat Sore     : Good evening
  • Selamat malam : Good night

The expression above is normally used in daily activity. They usually use them for formal greeting in office, telephone, and institution. However, some people in informal situation also use those expressions.

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  1. Various ways of farewell expressions

Indonesian would normally say these following phrases to say good bye:

  • Sampai jumpa : See you later
  • Selamat tinggal : Good bye

They would use “Sampai Jumpa” when they are one who leave someone, and use “Selamat jalan” when they are one who stay. Moreover, one informal expression of saying goodbye is by saying “Dadah” (sound like tha-tha). Then, they would also wave their hand as the common expression to leave someone.

  1. Hugs and kisses is prohibited to do with opposite sex

Indonesians would never apply hug and kisses to the opposite sex. However, for woman to a woman it is okay to greet by giving some kisses into cheek. Then, the hug and kisses may be given on the cheek toward between the married couple only. Showing too much affection (such as kissing and hugging intimately) for a married couple is also prohibited in Indonesia. Indonesia is a country that applies the strike rule toward politeness.

Those are the ways how do Indonesian greet each other. Once you visit Indonesia, you would see how friendly Indonesians are. They would even greet the people whom they have never met before. For some people, this habit might be annoying. However, the people of Indonesia truly do that.

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Kategori : Socio Cultural