Thursday, July 5, 2012

Indonesians always fall in love with abbreviations. You find abbreviations and acronyms everywhere, from news programs on TV to newspaper articles at a coffee shop, from school pamphlets to brochures.

Abbreviation, in Indonesian, means singkatan and to abbreviate has recently become Indonesians' hobbies or even culture. There is no reseach can tell why Indonesians love to do this, but one thing for sure, there is a crazy list of abbreviations, at least, you can browse over the Internet. Please click here to get there. Cited from Wikipedia, an abbreviation (from Latin brevis, meaning short) is a shortened form of a word or phrase. Usually, but not always, it consists of a letter or group of letters taken from the word or phrase. For example, the word abbreviation can itself be represented by the abbreviation abbr.abbrv. orabbrev. You can find its full article by clicking on this link. 

Every week on TV, and also in the internet, you can see new acronyms, mostly created by journalists and youngsters. They shorten everything, sometimes even without explaining what it is. When they say ROMUSA, for instance, they are trying to signify ROmbongan MUka suSAh (a group of desperate people). Rojali stands for ROkok JArang beLI, commonly used to call a person who keeps asking for cigarette and never buys it himself.

Besides those acronyms, Indonesians develop a habit of abbreviating prepositions, such as yg, kpd and dg. Yg is the abbreviation for yang (who, which, that, etc.), kpd for kepada (to), and dg for dengan (with or by). The abbreviations of preposition, which often occur in text messaging, are considered normal and may also be used in formal communications, like when a boss texts his employee.

And ironically, many people have forgotten the word pendekatan (approach) and used PDKT instead. They say BT, an English slang for "bad trip," and keep using it to express a foul mood, and they have no idea on what it means.

In political language, a bizarre passion for acronyms is threatening to engulf the language. Only very few people will say pemilihan umum instead of pemilu, pemilihan kepala daerah instead of pilkada, and komisi pemberantasan korupsi instead of KPK. And sadly, to say the name of their president, Indonesians call him SBY instead of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. If you compare it to Americans, you will find out that no one in the United States of America says BO for Barrack Obama.

The abbreviated communications will gradually destroy the language, defying the beauty of Indonesian vocabulary. What I am afraid of is that when I have a child one day, he/she will be calling me DK instead of David Khoirul. ;)

Contributed by David Khoirul, edited and added by ProBahasa Team



  1. As far as I know, BT stands for "boring tenan" instead of "bad trip". It is a combination between an English word and a Javanese word which means "it's so boring...".

  2. Thank you Mas Ramsyah for dropping by. We refer to this: Google hits on BT and we hope we do make wrong citing for BT. Your BT must be another BT that may also work. ;)

  3. Doubletongued covered BT here (, saying it's an English-derived acronym.

  4. On Twitter, RianJumbo ( argues that BT is actually "bad trip," after a user defines it as boring time, boring total and bad temperament.

  5. Asia Finest shares a discussion on Indonesian slangs, including BT (

  6. Please search by typing "boring tenan" in Google, and you may find a fantastic result for it... :) It's really 'Indonesian'


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