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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

english vs indonesian

One thing which recently made it into my reverse-culture-shock impact list is the widespread use of incomprehensible (read: broken), mixed-language expressions, potentially due to many reasons (to name a few: innocent show-off, following the mainstream, or just trying to look more "educated"). It starts with an easy one, like denoting the printer cartridge types as "black" and "color", i.e. in English, although we have good Indonesian words for that ("hitam" and "warna", in case you can't recall). The worse part is yet to come, it kills me when someone starts to sprinkle English words in an otherwise perfect sentence, e.g. "tapi you mesti ngajak aku to follow your, ehm [can't find the English words], kegiatan, which is sebenarnya quite interesting". This wonderful fragment is ridiculously non-sense for both foreigners who never learned Indonesian and for my fellow countrymen who do not know English at all.

Of course it won't surprise you if I say that you can easily find flyers and other promotion materials exactly using the same pattern. Just today we found a state-sponsored, free Shopping & Travelling Guide booklet featuring dozens of pages with English headings. Again, the contents are written in Indonesian. This leads to a number of striking typos and mistakes, one of which is shown here:

the typical typo

I have nothing against foreign languages (I have my share by learning few of them), but I also still love my wonderful mother tongue, Bahasa Indonesia.

17 comments:

Blue Lightning said...

This is something I have heard many times in spoken conversation between native speakers of different languages whose second language is English - they sort of drift between English and the other language. As I don't really have a strong second language (not since I stopped practicing my Bahasa Indonesia well over 10 years ago, at any rate) I can't really understand it, but I wouldn't be so sure it's always deliberate on the part of the speaker.

elvis said...

Heh, brings me back to the two trips I made to a friend Indriana in Singapore. Kind of hard to follow along when they go at it with their Singlish (malay+indonesian+english+maybe more) ;)

notriddle said...

Blgh. I'm a native English speaker, and wouldn't like having some language I don't know sprinkled into it in an attempt to show off.

TheGZeus said...

This is so common in Japan that they're defacto part of the language.
"Happy" is used for 'contented and happy'.
"Success" is... success.

Tons of stuff like that.

In certain circles, commonly referred to as 'weeaboos', it's common for poor Japanese to be inserted into English sentences.

I hear Somolian students at my school switching back and forth extremely fast, but they somehow understand each other.

Victor Noagbodji said...

oh the 'calender' typo! nothing to do with your mother tongue i believe. (my native is french) even native english speakers do it. search on google.

i have notice two such typos on the internet. i told people about it on a forum and that american guy told me to 'get a life'.

the second typo is 'then' instead of 'than'. google that too. notice how close it is to the 'calender' typo.

Anonymous said...

In Germany this is normal too... and I think it sounds better than if it would be in german..

Anonymous said...

just use google translate, it's a big helper

Ariya Hidayat said...

@Blue Lightning: Interesting observations. However in the said cases which I personally witnessed, it has nothing to do with the second language as they are capable (no doubt) of speaking Indonesian perfectly.

@elvis: Indeed, Singlish is always challenging :)

@notriddle: Exactly, so you can feel my pain...

@TheGZeus: Good to know, a nice addition to this drama :)

@Victor: That just proves the point. If non-native speakers tend to make less typos (because we are forced to learn the hard way, at school), then making such typos just shows the kind of fluency (or lack thereof) that you have.

@Anonymous: Google Translate? I miss the connection here, why on earth does Google Translate matter in the said case?

leinir said...

@notriddle Such as, say... Anybody doing anything with cooking in English who seem incapable of using English words? ;)

Anonymous said...

"... and other promotion materials exactly using the same pattern."

I'd write that as:

"... and other promotion materials using exactly the same pattern."

Says the voice of an English man.

Bernhard H. said...

In Germany we do have this, too. Mostly single words used in advertiser's headlines to sound "hip".
Sometimes there are even certain English words that change their meaning when used in Germany, for example "Handy" (cellular phone). And there are of course many English technical terms that usually go untranslated.
Bur everything else is usually considered bad style.

Arie said...

+1 Thanks for writing that up and letting people know what my heart argues in silence. Whenever I hear Indonesian people mixing their Bahasa Indonesia and English then I sort of have a giant blinking red and white flash in my mind surprisingly bumping saying 'AMATEUR!! AMATEUR!!' that unfortunately quite a lot happened in Indonesia (read: even worst! it mostly happened in Indonesia T_T).

However I forgive when an Indonesian who stays abroad or non-Indonesian mixed his language with whatever language he is used to because his heart speaks and counts in that language and would have found it super hard to recall his memory to express his heart in his loooong time not used mother tounge.

I'd rather have society speaks 100% in their chosen language instead of bringing headache and immature conversation by mixing whatever languages that is.

I'm NOT proud at all by amateur people. I'm proud of the existence of Bahasa Indonesia is being used as a national language.

paPiRu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
papiru said...

aduh, grand pa.. no gitu2 lah..
kan ini gaul lugagge (critanya typo) you know..

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Thoar said...

Assalaamu 'alaikum..

This article reminds me of the nights I spend in Tangerang, with a friend of mine. While making fun of both English and Bahasa Indonesia, it is quite sad that people tend to use English in the wrong way, in Indonesia.

"Kita naik bus-way yuk." Emang bisa naik 'jalan bis'?

The most shocking to me is the abbreviation "ass.wr.wb.".
Just terrible. Really..

I guess people are not aware of it, but I do hope that people correct others when using this kind of English.

But it is always fun to make puns. ;)

"Kenapa why selalu always? Karena tidak pernah never.."


I do think, however, Bahasa Indonesia must stay Bahasa Indonesia. Satu nusa, satu bangsa, satu bahasa.
Bahasa kita merupakan pusaka yang kita harus jaga.