Not All Foreigners Are Given The Same Names in Indonesia

Not All Foreigners Are Given The Same Names in Indonesia

You may have heard that the only word for foreigners in Indonesia is “Bule”, pronounced Boolay, and treat it as similar to what the Japanese typically call foreigners, Gaijin, or Thais call foreigners, Farang, and Chinese call foreigners, Gwailo, etc.

In fact, there is no similarity between how the Indonesians call foreigners, and their other Asian counterparts.

Indonesians name foreigners according to how those foreigners relate to Indonesia. So there are four main terms: Turis, Tamu, Bule and Orang Lokal.

Turis: Someone who is here for a day or so, and someone who can’t speak Indonesian language.

Tamu: Someone who is staying here for a while, but not sure how long, and who is assumed to not be able to speak Indonesian language, but they just might so this is a more respectful term than Turis or Bule.

Bule: Someone who is staying here and doesn’t intend to leave, but apparently can’t speak Indonesian and doesn’t seem to intend to integrate very much. They don’t speak Indonesian, and are actually quite resistant to the idea of learning to speak on equal terms with Indonesians.

Bule Lokal: Someone who acts like a Bule, but is well-known enough to be considered a local. They speak Indonesian.

Orang Lokal: A foreigner who is staying here, but can speak Indonesian and is integrated, has known Indonesian friends, etc.

Are you living in Indonesia? What do you hear people call you usually?

What’s ironic about this is that in their own countries, Europeans, North Americans and Australians expect newcomers and immigrants to speak the national language and to integrate into their societies. There are political parties, racist hate groups and a wide variety of names used for these kinds of immigrants.