Acquiring Indonesian Vocabulary: Is Google Translate Trusted?

This post addresses the most common way to obtain expressions (vocabulary) in any foreign language - that is by utilizing the magic service of Google Translate. But, is the translation trusted?

Single Word

For single word, for sure Google Translate is able to provide totally accurate translation. For this kind of need, simply trust Google Translate - your smart dictionary that can give you translation just in a second. Almost all words can be translated accurately with no noubts.

Two Words

For some expressions, the two-word expressions are still accurate in terms of semantic meaning. But sometimes Google Translate does not provide accurate translation in terms of diction and pragmatic meaning.

Some examples of this are “nama baik” which is translated as “good name” and “kepala dingin” which is translated as “cool head”. Those results are semantically accurate, but pragmatically, “nama baik” in Bahasa Indonesia refers to “reputation” while “kepala dingin” refers to “a condition in which someone who is mindful and calm in solving a problem. In this case, Google Translate fails in distinguishing “nama baik” that refers to “reputation” with “nama yang baik” which means “good name”. Another example is “meja hijau” which is translated as “green table”. It is semantically correct. However, meja hijau in Bahasa Indonesia commonly refers to “court”.

Of course, those examples are all technical terms. But Google Translate should consider including some sort of alternative with short explanation about when the expressions are commonly used.


For expressions which consist of more than two words, it seems that Google Translate is able to handle it accurately. It seems that people behind Google Translate has successfully improved the way Google Translate works so that it becomes a very helpful dictionary for foreigners who come to Indonesia. However, it does not mean that Google Translate is totally accurate. In some occasions, it fails in translating expressions.


When you are certain about your decision to learn Indonesian, I suggest you not to rely on Google Translate if grammar mastery becomes your main target. If what you want is simply “being able to say a little”, then Google Translate works and serves you best. Use Google Translate only to help you obtaining sible word. But this will only work if you have master the basic grammar of Bahasa Indonesia. So that, make sure you learn the basic first before you get in too deep. Englinesian can help you in learning. It serves the learning of Bahasa Indonesia through Podcast, Vodcast, and Web.

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