Caught Between Languages: The English Wave in Indonesian Conversation


“Aduh, rasanya cringe, mending pake bahasa inggris aja deh.”

    That thought must have passed through your mind at least once. Some people have this kind of shame of speaking in their native language, so they prefer to express their feelings or actions in English–since it is a global language that everyone around the world almost learns or another language besides their own. Sometimes, speaking a language other than their native makes them feel smarter or even better. This situation in linguistics is called linguistic insecurity or linguistic self-hatred. This phenomenon reveals the insecurity of the person who thinks their language is inferior to another language. They tend to use the dominant or prestigious language, like English.

    Linguistic Insecurity occurs when standard language ideology creates the belief in an idealized form of language, stigmatizing non-standard varieties and fostering linguistic insecurity. Additionally, accent stereotyping generates generalized beliefs about accents, potentially fueling prejudice and discrimination.

    Thus, I found it very strange for Indonesians to use lots of English in daily life when they are not interacting with foreigners. It does not mean that it is such a bad thing, but the attempt to make Bahasa Indonesia a global language will look like just a dream. For example, students created an event using English in their copywriting. Sure, you want to look cooler, but your audience is the locals. Why not use proper Bahasa Indonesia?

    Maybe it is just for aesthetic purposes or social status, but using English as the standard only reduces the essence of having a native language with many vernacular languages like Indonesia. This usually happens in the younger generation. 

    Moreover, it could be something unserious. People are not ashamed of speaking in Bahasa Indonesia. There is just this cringe-worthy feeling when expressing thoughts through our mother tongue, so some people prefer to use English. It is like you are too shy to express what you are feeling in Bahasa Indonesia, but when you use English, it won't be as cringeworthy as you thought. 

    Also, we must remember the impact of social media. Especially the young generation who are more active on a lot of platforms. It may push them to have the ability to speak in another language besides Bahasa Indonesia. With the amount of time surfing on social media with unlimited networks, using English in daily life might become an additional habit. Though using a lot of English is not a crime, just don’t forget your root, Bahasa Indonesia. 

Content Writer : Arinda Risma Wardani
Editor: Kania Mahira Yahya