Text Speak - Indonesian language in an online world

By Rivaldy Pandie & Chris Hall

Indonesia, it has a national language and more than 764 local languages. But this didn't seem to be enough for Indonesian people so they created a new language used in texting or chatting online. This Indonesian text speak includes some abbreviations, acronyms, or slang that can’t be found in any dictionary. For example, take a look at following conversation between two friends.

Ketut - Hey, ap kbr? Lg dmn? Bwt ap skrg? Bgmn dg sklhx? Z.

Rhonda - Hallo, kbr baik. trims. Sy lg bc bku di rmh. Sklhx amn2 sj kok. Km?

Although the rules of writing like that aren’t in accordance with any official spelling system, Indonesian people will understand what the conversation means. But for foreign people who are learning Indonesian, seeing this kind of Indonesian for the first time is confusing even if they are quite proficient in standard Indonesian. Maybe they will ask themselves how people can speak like that with so many consonants and so few vowels?

Regardless of how many syllables are used, a general rule of thumb in Indonesian text language is to remove vowels when possible, while leaving the consonants, and without altering the meaning of the actual sentence. If the text is written in standard Indonesian language, then the result is:

Ketut - Hey, apa kabarnya? Lagi dimana? Buat apa sekarang? Bagaimana dengan sekolahnya? Tolong dibalas.

Rhonda - Hallo, kabar baik. Terima kasih. Saya lagi baca buku di rumah. Sekolahnya aman-aman saja kok. Kamu?

Or if translated in English, it would be:

Ketut - Hey, how are u? Where are you now? What are you doing? How was school? Please let me know.

Rhonda - Hello, I’m good. Thank you. I’m reading book at home . School just alright. What about you?

Now that we’ve touched on the pattern of Indonesian text speak, we don’t need to to frown if we see this kind of post from Indonesian friends on facebook or twitter. It's just a way of speaking that has been unofficially accepted by Indonesians without being taught.

Text language is generally used for the purpose of shortening sentences and saving time when typing. Over time, the use of this text language by Indonesian youth is not only used as a practical way of sending messages but also interpreted as a means to show that their self-identity is an anak gaul (trendy boy/ girl) in their community. If some popular acronyms are unknown, then they will be considered to be kudet (kurang update or less-updated person)

Before social networking became as popular as it is today, some of the following terms were often found in someone's phone when messaging

EGP = Emang Gue Pikirin // I don’t care

GPL = Gak Pake Lama // Please hurry Up

Gr = Gede Rasa // Being too confident

GTA = Gundul Tapi Asyik // Bald but cool

ABCDE= Aku Bilang Cinta Dia Enggak // I Said Love She Said No

HTS = Hubungan Tanpa Status // Relationship without status

Gatot = Gagal Total // completely failed

In the end, text language transformed into a socialect (social dialect) that develops in accordance with the times and shows the social identity of their respective regions. Some of the abbreviations mentioned earlier is a common socialect used by youth in the nation's capital, Jakarta.

The use of text speak like this is not formal and can not be used at university or work, but it is a means of creativity when sending messages. It adds a new nuance to the language, and makes it more friendly when communicating virtually. It is clear that text language is the latest variation of the language culture that was born out of the rapid technological progress of our times.

Personally, my favorite abbreviation either in Indonesian or English language is YOLO, you only live once. I only live once, doesn’t mean that I can do anything I want like other people do without considering the consequences, but because I only live once, what could I do today to make my self better than yesterday? If we look at tomorrow, we all don’t want to feel regret at the end of our days. So, what is your favorite abbreviation or text speak in each language? Or have you even created a new one? Please share with us. We are glad to hear about it. Leave a comment below.

  • bs = bisa = can
  • brp = berapa = how much / how many
  • cb = coba = try
  • dll = dan lain-lain = etc
  • dgn = dengan = with
  • dr = dari = from
  • dl = dulu = before
  • hr = hari = day
  • jgn = jangan = don't
  • jg = juga = also
  • jm = jam= hour
  • kpn = kapan = when
  • mkn = makan = eat