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The Jakarta Post
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Mix lingo 'literally' a thing for South Jakartans

  • Vela Andapita
    Vela Andapita

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta | Wed, September 5, 2018 | 09:23 am
Mix lingo 'literally' a thing for South Jakartans Jokes have been circulating on Twitter in the past few days pointing out the distinctive way in which people who live and/or work in South Jakarta talk. (Shutterstock/mrmohock )

Jokes have been circulating on Twitter in the past few days pointing out the distinctive way in which people who live and/or work in South Jakarta talk. The jokes highlight how people in the middle-upper class part of the capital often mix English and Indonesian in their daily conversations.

Twitter user @dwikiaprinaldi, for example, tweeted “Anak sastra Jaksel kalo bikin acara namanya Asian literally festival”, which translates to “If literature students of South Jakarta made an event, it would be called Asian literally festival”. The tweet satirically pointed out how often they use the word “literally” regardless of its relevance.

Another user, @iyajgybg, tweeted “[…] padinya ditumbuk which is bijinya lepas gitu nah moreafter dikumpulin deh itu hence masi ada kulitnya its finebaru abis itu ditumbuk2 like biar jadi beras literally — petani jaksel”.

Those two tweets got over 2,000 retweets since being posted on Sept. 1 and Aug. 28 respectively.

Stand-up comedian and filmmaker Ernest Prakasa through his Twitter account @ernestprakasa on Tuesday joined the fuss by tweeting a post using “South Jakarta-style” plus Hokkian, a Chinese dialect, which according to him was the West Jakarta style.


“Gua lahir di Jakbar, gede di Jaksel. So ya gua ga problem whatsoever sama becandaan lu orang, cengli2 aja. Ga worth it aja gitu kita orang baper sama begituan, a little bit bokamguan IMO,” he said, which translates to:

“I was born in West Jakarta and raised in South Jakarta. So I don’t have any problem whatsoever with your jokes, it’s OK. It’s not worth it to sweat the small stuff, which in my opinion is a little bit time-wasting.”

South Jakartan Nomena Hutauruk admitted that she and her friends sometimes talked using both English and Indonesian in one sentence — mostly involving the words “which is”, “literally”, “prefer”, “at least” and “I mean”.

“I don’t say the word ‘which is’ that often. The jokes are exaggerated,” the Jagakarsa resident told The Jakarta Post.

Although not new, communication expert from the University of Indonesia Devie Rahmawati said the phenomenon has showed the city’s youngsters’ potential and eagerness to communicate in the global language, English.

“These youngsters live, work and socialize with mixed-culture communities, including people from English-speaking countries. They work, hang out, even play games with foreigners. They want to be part of the global community,” she said on Tuesday.

“They mix two languages in their conversations to signify their ability to talk in both. The blame is on us, the adults, who fail to equip them with enough skills to communicate properly in English and Indonesian,” she added.

She also mentioned that many state officials and celebrities often talked in mixed languages too — which could not be good examples for the country’s young generations about the proper way to talk. This, instead, showed that Indonesians are not confident in their own language.

“This has become people’s habit, not only in South Jakarta, to showcase that they’re smart and educated. If that’s the case, we potentially lose our true identity: Indonesian,” she said.

Linguistic expert Ivan Lanin said people from generation to generation have been mixing languages in their conversations, a term in linguistics known as “code mixing”.

Read also: 'Language is my ultimate weapon': Ivan Lanin

Code mixing can happen both intentionally and unintentionally in a group of communicators. Such a manner of speaking does not pose a problem as long as people in the group can understand the meaning.

“Though I can’t say whether this is good or bad, I’m still not suggesting people talk in mixed code or languages in one sentence. We don’t expect people to do so once their linguistic skills improve,” he told the Post.

“People have a number of reasons to talk in mixed languages, even if they have the ability to talk properly. Laziness [to find equivalent words in Indonesian] and keeping up with their circles’ talking style are but a few,” he added.

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