Advertising and the Indonesian Language

On Friday, 14 November 2014, P3I DKI JAYA and Creative Circle Indonesia held a seminar for copywriters and advertising professionals in general, about the Indonesian language in the context of advertising and where it is going. The speakers were novelist Ayu Utami, Ricky Pesik (Satucitra), Tulus Ciptadi Akib (Arcade Indonesia), and Yoga Adhitrisna (Berakar Komunikasi).

The discussion centered around how the language has been used and abused in advertising over the years and how copywriters should consider the development of the language and its current usage in their work.

The Indonesian language is admittedly an artificial language created through the combination and assimilation of languages that exist across the Indonesian archipelago, borrowing words from foreign sources, primarily the Arabic and Dutch languages with some Portuguese.

In recent years however, decades after the Dutch colonial rule ended, English words and phrases have been making their scattershot way into the Indonesian language, while the younger generations are incorporating Korean into their daily vernacular, although to a much lesser extent, thanks to the proliferation of Korean pop culture.

As was pointed out during the discussion, many advertising works now employ words from foreign languages in so many different ways that ads done entirely in Indonesian become a breath of fresh air.

While the media is often considered as the guardian of the native language, it’s advertising professionals who are often responsible for the introductions of new words or phrases or reintroduction of words that had gone out of fashion. Works of advertising are today far more influential to consumers than mass media or works of literature.

The main takeaway of the discussion was while it’s an undeniable fact that languages evolve, there is a distinction between enriching a language through creative and innovative use and spoiling it through reckless undertakings.

As with many other crafts, there is a fundamental core, a structure, to a language that copywriters or language professionals must fully understand before creatively taking it into different directions and introduce new forms or words or augment it with foreign ingredients so as to enrich it.

[featured image by AdDiction]