Obama speaks Bahasa Indonesia

“You can hear several brief passages of Obama in Bahasa in the first minute of the clip below, and the Ich bin… sentence that brought the house down begins at around 2:00. For expert analysis of how Obama handles the language, see Ben Zimmer at Language Log, here. To my ear, after the two years my family spent living in Malaysia with its very similar language, it sounds as if he can handle the distinctive Indonesian “R” sound way better than most foreigners, for example me. (You can hear this with some names in the first 20 seconds, and when he gives his step father’s name at about 2:30.) Also, even in his pronunciation of the name “Indonesia” in the first few seconds, you hear local-version vowels rather than normal American pronunciation.”


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