Indonesian slang is a non-standard style of expressions that are not necessarily mutually intelligible. It often differs quite significantly in both vocabulary and grammatical structure from the standard form.
In English, people would need formal and informal context for daily conversation. But not in Indonesian. Here, formal language is only used in the news, novels, poetry, songs, textbooks, signs, and public instructions. And often, slang is needed to lighten up the mood. Because slang in Indonesian is not the harsh kind. It is part of the language evolution that develops overtime.
Indonesian has a formal, informal, and slang way of addressing. We use “saya” for formal self-addressing, and “aku” to sound casual. But youngsters who speak slang a lot would address themselves as “gue”. And instead of saying “anda” and “kamu”, they use “elo” or “elu” for “you”. But it is often shortened into “lo” or “lu” to sound even more punk. They also call “ayah” (father) as “bokap”, and “ibu” (mother) as “nyokap”. And for addressing friends, they use “coy” or “cuy” (meaning guys / bro / dude / lad) for youngsters, and “lur” (meaning relatives) for adults.
Example of sentences using slang addressing:
- Mantap lu, Coy! (You’re great, Man!)
- Cuy, jadi pergi gak? (Guys, will we go?)
- Ga usah sotoy deh, lur! (Stop being know-it-all!)
- Idih, jijay banget gue ama bau ketek lu. (Ugh, I’m so disgusted to your armpit smell)
- Bokap-Nyokap lo kemana sepi amat? (It’s so quiet, where are your mom and dad?)
Code mixing happens when a foreign word enters the local lexicon. It’s been so common in Indonesian, and it has become another kind of slang. This style is mostly popular for youngsters and people living in the urban area.
Example of sentences using code mixing:
- Happy birthday!! Tar malem invite gue, ya! (Happy birthday!! Invite me tonight!)
- Gila, gue udah streaming enam jam non-stop. (It’s crazy, I’ve been streaming for 6 hours nonstop)
- Lu mo order apa? Gua milkshake ama sandwich. (What do you want to order? I order milkshake and sandwich)
- Besok gue mo join grup chat whatsapp komunitas. (Tomorrow I’ll join the whatsapp chat group of the community)
- Insecure amat, sih? Stay cool aja, lagi. (You’re so insecure. Just stay cool)
Indonesians really love creating acronyms. Usually these acronyms were created by famous public figures, and then it turns viral and imitated by youngsters. And guess what? It only needs a few weeks before turning into a new permanent part of Indonesian vocabulary.
Example of sentences using Indonesian acronyms:
- Enak banget tuh keknya. Markicob! (That looks yummy. Let’s try it out) markicob stands for mari kita coba (let’s try it out).
- Mager banget gue OTW kepagian. (I’m too lazy to go too early) Mager stands for males gerak (lazy to move), and OTW stands for on the way.
- PD amat lu padahal masih ABG. (Aren’t you too confident though you’re still a teenager) PD stands for percaya diri (confident), and ABG stands for anak baru gede (teenager).
- Gaje amat sih tuh cowok TP mulu. (That guy is so absurd, he always flirts) Gaje stands for ga jelas (absurd), and TP stands for tebar pesona (to flirt).
- TTDJ, ya! Ga usah salfok ama resepsionisnya. (Take care! Do not have errant focus on the receptionist) TTDJ stands for haTi-haTi Di Jalan (take care on the way), and salfok stands for salah fokus (having errant focus).
Not only Indonesians love making acronyms, they also like shortening the words and expressions. They shorten delapan (eight) into lapan, terimakasih (thank you) into makasih, mau (want) into mo, sudah (have done) into udah or just dah, nggak into ga, kayak (like / similar) into kek, sampai (arrive / until) into mpe, and many more. The most popular pattern is omitting the prefixes “-me” and “-ber”. Like shortening mengerti into ngerti, and bertaubat into tobat. And for mentioning numbers, the “puluh” (-ty) part used to be removed.
Example of sentences using shortened spelling:
- Ngerti, gak? (Do you understand?)
- Mpe jam berapa konsernya? (What time the concert will end?)
- Dah kelar belom kerjaannya? (Has your job done?)
- Yampun, udah lapan-lapan tahun masih seger aja nenek lu. (Gosh, been eighty eight years old but your grandma still looks fresh)
- Keknya ujannya ga bakal brenti deh mpe sore. (It’s most likely that the rain won’t stop until late afternoon)
Indonesians love to use a lot of particles. It feels like there’s something missing without the use of the particles. Even though those particles do not have literal meanings, it could emphasize the feeling that the speaker wants to deliver. And most importantly, it would give a casual impression to your sentence, and make you instantly sound very local.
Example of sentences using particles:
- Hape aku lemot, nih. (My phone is getting slow)
- Pinjem laptop, dong. (Lend me your laptop)
- Nggak dulu, deh. (Not now)
- Panas, nih. Nyalain AC, kek! (It’s hot. Why don’t you turn on the air con?)
- Lah, ngapain lo di situ? (What are you doing there?)
To make a sentence sound informal, we can add the suffix -in after a verb. For example:
- Tolong nyalain lampu, dong. (Please turn on the light)
- Mau nggak bantuin aku? (Don’t you want to help me?)
- Tadi kamu lupa matiin motor. (You forgot to turn off the motorbike)
- Tiap minggu, Ibu masakin rendang. (Mom cooks rendang every Sunday)
- Jangan jatuhin makanan di selokan. (Don’t drop foods on the canal)
Slang Words in Social Media
Social media is a massive slang field, especially for Indonesian youngsters. These are the slang words mostly used in Indonesian social media.
It’s the written expression to describe laughter, so it has become the most used slang in Indonesian social media. Whenever people want to comment on something with laughter, they type wkwkwk. It’s everywhere in social media, that makes Indonesia known as Wekaweka Land. It’s actually pronounced as wkwkwk as the way it is written, but people often pronounce it as wekaweka just to sound obvious about the spelling “we (w)” and “ka (k)”. For example, we read a comment “Idih, surem amat foto lu wkwkwk” (Ugh, your photo is so gloomy wkwkwk). The next day, your friend retell about it, “Eh, kemarin Dina komen ke postingannya Andi, katanya, surem amat foto lu wekaweka” (Hey, yesterday Dina commented to Andi’s post, she said, your photo is so gloomy wekaweka).
- Leh Uga
Short from boleh juga, which means pretty good. In social media, people want to sound cute, funny, and brief at the same time. So if you want to compliment a post, you can type Leh uga to sound brief, cute, and casual. For example, “Leh uga dapet tebengan gratis.” (It’s pretty good to get a free ride) or “Gaya lu leh uga.” (Your style is pretty cool)
Receh literally means small coins. But in social media, receh means cheap jokes. For example, “Gabut, nih. Lagi butuh yang receh-receh, nih.” (So bored. I need cheap jokes)
Short from lucu banget, meaning very funny. It’s a popular response to comment on a hilarious post. For example, “Wkwkwk cubang, njir!” (Wkwkwk so funny, you dog!)
Slang from admin. In fact, Mimin is a common Indonesian name. It comes from the netizen habit to call an admin as Min to be brief, but then they try to make it sound more casual and cute by relating it to an outdated girly name Mimin. For example, “Min, Min, boleh repost gak?” (Admin, can I repost?) then the admin answers, “Mimin dapetnya susah, bro. Like dulu dong baru repost.” (It was hard for me to get it, bro. Drop a like first before reposting)
- Texting Mode
In texting, people just want to be brief to type everything. Not just abbreviations and acronyms, Indonesians also have their own ways in shortening words into a texting mode. It is often done by removing all the vowels of the word. So of course, it also works in typing comments on social media. Here is the list of the words converted in the texting mode.
Take a look at the following social media comments!
@A: Min, cakep bgt fotox sp? (Admin, cakep banget fotonya siapa?: Admin, so pretty, whose photo is that?)
@B: Sumpah naksir gw, njir! (Sumpah, naksir gue, njir: I swear I got hooked)
@C: Tu bknx tetangga gw dkt rmh? (Itu bukannya tetangga gue deket rumah?: Isn’t that my neighbor next to my house?)
@C: Yg bnr lu? Sini no hp cptn share! (Yang bener lu? Sini nomer HP cepetan share: Seriously? Come here quickly share her phone number)
Indonesian Slang Words in Bali
Slang could be bound to a specific area, such as Bali. So you could only hear this slang in Bali. Young balinese often change the word kamu (you) into ke to sound slang. For example:
Ke tu ngapain, sih? = Kamu tuh ngapain, sih? (What the hell are you doing?)
Ke kapan mulai kuliah? = kamu kapan mulai kuliah? (When will you start college?)