When language is used to market oneself

Nelly Martin, Wisconsin, USA | Opinion | Sat, September 14 2013, 11:54 AM

My Facebook wall, news feeds and Whatsapp group discussions are now full with news of this “spectacular” man named Vicky Prasetyo ,aka Hendrianto, who rose to fame after his now aborted engagement with dangdut singer Saskia Gotik.

His dictions are quite distinct and whole sentences are unintelligible. While the majority of the words might sound like Indonesian, I, as a native speaker of the language, barely understood what he was trying to say.

The words, such as harmonisisasi, kontroversi hati, konspirasi kemakmuran, labil ekonomi, sound very peculiar, if not weird. Obviously, there are some English borrowed words appropriated into Indonesian spellings.

While some of the word roots may be recognized as Indonesian, they are not the words that Indonesians would normally use in daily conversation or formal discussion.

While people are making fun of the Vicky phenomenon, it is also interesting to see how they are also trying to use these words or are creating new words inspired by his “grammar”.

Some people are modifying their Indonesian and even English words using “Vicky-style” morpheme, such as, -nisasi, -memper- or the grammatically incorrect sentences in English, such as “I am froms the birthday of” etc.

Others even went too far by writing up the transcript of his unusual interview and listed and defined the meanings of these peculiar words and phrases and made up sentences as examples.

The “Vicky” fake dictionary and T-shirt are becoming hot topics on social media like Facebook, BlackBerry messenger and Whatsapp, among others.

Quoted from Kompas published on Sept. 9, 2013, one Facebook user named Rusdi Mathari even used his style to update his status: “Pembebasan Rasyid Rajasa mempertakut dan mempersuram statusisasi kontroversi hati dan konspirasi kemakmuran kasus Dul. Harmonisasi kasus tidak boleh mengkudeta kita punya keinginan, tapi kita harus menyiasati untuk labil ekonomi; karena usia hukum saat ini, ya twenty nine my age  ya.”

What is this phenomenon about? I can argue that it might be the failure of Indonesian as a language to project itself as a luxurious or cool language.

In this sense, it may be assumed that the native speakers of Indonesian perceive English as a language that can represent a deeper meaning or a cooler image that Indonesian may not be able to show. In this manner, English may still hold a higher status than Indonesian in our society.

During a conversation with a group of friends, I learned that there is fear of this “Vicky phenomenon”. Some worry that it will start destroying Indonesian as a national language.

I can understand this stance. However, I would not take it that far. For me, this is only a trend, which can vanish soon.

When people think it is still trendy, it will stay, but I am assuming it won’t stay forever.

It may be fashionably funny right now to speak the language of Vicky, but like other fashions, something new will replace the old trend. Only time will tell whether it will stay or go.

Additionally, my best guess is that it will not enter formal discourse, unless people are trying to make fun of this Vicky phenomenon purposefully. They may be trying to show that they are up to date with the latest news.

However, if they choose to use this style in a formal meeting intentionally, I believe people may assume he or she to be an uneducated person, incapable of conveying an opinion in effective language.

With that said, this is only a machine for Vicky, the doer, to get people’s attention, to be famous or to create a sensation, among other intention(s) that he might have (or not).

And if he did have this motive, let us say he did succeed in doing that. People keep posting and watching his video on YouTube and keep talking about him. If it is true, he made it: everybody is tallking about him right now. On another note, it may truly reflect his incapability to use both languages.

However, to say that Indonesian as a language would be “ruined” may be an unjustified fear, unless this “Vicky language” has some loyal native speakers who want to keep this as their language.

If that happens, it may take years, not days. By then, another fashionable style of language may have come to replace this.

The writer is a Fulbright Presidential scholar at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Paper Edition | Page: 7

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