Once upon a time

Season 3 Episode A1

Level of Indonesian and English fluency: Beginner to Intermediate

Indonesian Version

Saya adalah anak kedua dari dua bersaudara. Di masa kecil saya sering bermain dengan kakak laki saya yang 4 tahun lebih tua. Selain itu, saya juga banyak bermain dengan sepupu saya.  Saudara sepupu saya banyak dari pihak mama dan papa. 

Masing-masing pihak, jumlahnya ada 25 orang. Masing-masing mama dan papa saya mempunyai 7 saudara. Mereka saya panggil Oom dan Tante. 

Orang tua dari papa saya panggil opa oma, orang tua dari mama saya panggil nenek kakek. Karena keluarga papa lebih mengikuti budaya belanda dan mama mengikuti budaya di Indonesia umumnya. 

Opa oma, nenek kakek sudah meninggal dunia. Dan cucu mereka yang berjumlah 25 orang itu sudah mempunyai anak lagi. Ada yang punya 2 ada yang punya 3 anak. 

Opa paling sering bercerita masa lalunya, dan sering diawali dengan kata “pada suatu waktu”

Sifat opa, oma, nenek dan kakek berbeda, tapi ada satu kesamaan. Mereka selalu mengingatkan, sebagai keluarga, jangan saling membenci terutama karena masalah uang atau harta. 

English Version (2:20)

I am the younger of two siblings. During my childhood, I often played with my brother who is four years older than me. Besides my brother, I also often played with my cousins. I have many cousins from both my mother’s and father’s sides of the family.

There are 25 in total from each side. My mother and father each have seven siblings. I call them Oom and Tante.

I call the parents of my father Opa and Oma, whereas the parents of my mother Grandma and Grandpa. This is because my father’s family still follows Dutch culture whereas my mother’s follows Indonesian culture in general.

My Opa, Oma, Grandpa and Grandma had all passed away. And all 25 of their grandchildren already have children of their own. Some have 2 and others have 3 children.

My Opa often spoke about his past, and often started with the words “once upon a time”. Opa, Oma, Grandpa and Grandma all had different characteristics but they all have one thing in common. They always reminded everyone that as a family, we should not end up hating each other because of money or property.

These are our stories, what is yours?


Anak: child

Kakak Laki:  older brother

Saudara: Blood related 

(Saudara) Sepupu: cousin

Keluarga: family

Oom: uncle

Tante: aunty

Opa / Kakek: grandpa

Oma / Nenek: grandma

Orang tua: parents

Cucu: grandkid

Uang: money

Harta: property / asset

In addition to thousands of Indonesian dialects, Indonesian language has also been influenced by Dutch, Chinese, Indian, Portugese, and Arabic. We can see that influence from how we address a person depending on their relationship or age from where we stand; for example, our parents, our grandparents, or also people who are not related to us. 

In general, we try to call anyone who seems older using a pronoun to show our respect. A lot of time, we don’t include the surname. For instance, when addressing Mr. Smith or Mrs. Smith, we don’t use their names and we simply  say Mister or Mam or Mrs. When we use the name, we use the first name, for example, Mr. John Smith, we say Mister or Mister John. (Bapak/Bapak John/Pak John) the same thing for the women, we call them by Ibu + the first name, Ibu Jane/Bu Jane, instead of Ibu Smith. Sometimes in a formal occasion, people can say Ibu John (the wife of Bapak John) 

In big cities, especially in Jakarta, it’s very common to call Auntie and Uncle to people one generation older, even to those who are not family related. For example when meeting our friends’ parents, we simply call Tante, Oom or Ibu and Bapak. To be safe when we meet someone we are not familiar with, we just use Ibu and Bapak. Usually Tante and Oom are used more when we have a mutual person we know. 

To the people who seem to be within the same generation but older than us, we usually call them with brother or sister (kakak – can be both for female and male) 

Or using local dialect, in Java island, some use the word Mas (male) and Mbak (female)

Or Akang (male)  and Teteh (female) in the West Java area. 


Older person in the same generation: kakak, Mas, Mbak, Akang, Teteh (Some places local dialects) 

Older people who one generation older: Tante, Oom, Ibu, Bapak (Some places use local dialects)

Older people who are two generations older: Bapak, Ibu (more formal), or Opa Oma or we follow the way their grandkids call them when we are friends with their grandkids. (Some places use local dialects)

To younger people, we call them by names or if we do not know their name, we can call them Adik / dik (Both can be male and female)

When we are in the Chinatown area, instead of kakak, we might hear people use words, Kokoh/koh (male), Cicik/cik. (female)

Which means older brother and sister. 

If you are not sure how to address, to be safe, just address them as Bapak / Ibu (for the same generation or older), the people will let you know how they prefer to be addressed. 

Indonesian language used here is in the daily-conversation format, that has influences from the local culture and custom. Should you have questions on the more formal version, please consult with your guru Bahasa Indonesia.

Level of Indonesian and English fluency: Beginner to Intermediate