This article is a revisit and rewritten version of #EngClass: Code-switching vs. Code-mixing (2015).
“Hujan-hujan begini, I feel so lucky that I got to work from home. Semoga orang-orang yang literally have to be out there to make a living bisa survive.”
Have you ever said or typed something in this manner, fellas?
Indonesian younger generations (millennials and younger), especially those who live in capital cities and are heavily exposed to foreign languages, often do code-switching and code-mixing.
This could happen with many different languages at once, as Indonesia is immensely rich in culture. I often find myself code-switching and code-mixing with my Indonesian friends, using Javanese, Indonesian, Balinese, and English, all in one conversation.
What are code-switching and code-mixing and why do we do them? Are they bad or incorrect or wrong?
Some argue that code-switching and code-mixing can be used interchangeably. We tend to go with a more specific definition for each.
Code-switching is changing from one language to another during a speech, especially on a clause or a sentence level.
“Hujan terus. It’s very cold outside.”
Code-mixing is adding one or two words of another language into the speech, not enough to make a clause or a sentence.
“Mana my umbrella? Hujannya deras sekali.”
Here are the possible reasons why someone or a group of people code-switch or code-mix:
1. Talking about a secret
In a group dominated by English-speaking people who don’t speak Indonesian, we might speak in Indonesian if we want nobody to find out what we’re saying.
2. Failing to find the compatible words or terms/words or terms from the other language come first to our mind when we are required to make quick decisions or quick responses
On some occasions, we might struggle to find the suitable words or terms from the same language and we end up inserting one or two words from another language.
“Bisa tolong print ini, nggak?”
We know the Indonesian equivalent of the verb ‘to print’ is ‘cetak’, but in a rush, we might forget about it and blurt out ‘print’, even though the rest of the sentence is in Indonesian.
3. To soften or strengthen a request or a command
Some requests seem more earnest and some commands sound less bossy if we add the English word ‘please’ to the sentence.
“Tolong bantuin aku, ya, please…”
“Please, jangan ribut, teman-teman!”
4. To emphasise what has previously been said in another language
“Ingat, besok jangan telat. Don’t be late.“
5. To sound smart
Some people do think that using foreign languages during an argument will make them look smarter and will get the point across. We see this a lot during a Twitter-war amongst Indonesians. Some of us might switch to English in order to be taken seriously.
Are code-switching and code-mixing bad or wrong or incorrect, linguistically speaking?
We even have a joke about it now, ‘byelingual.’
Well, we Indonesians speak at least 3 different languages: our mother tongue (for each province or regency might use a different one), Indonesian, and English. Add other languages we learned over the course of our lives, we can collectively cry in multilingual.
Linguists might say that code-switching or code-mixing is a sign that we cannot be consistent with one language, but I would argue that at some point we will inevitably code-switch or code-mix, especially if we interact with people from many different backgrounds on a daily basis.
Besides, there are quite a few English words being adopted by Indonesians that using the Indonesian counterparts might confuse our audience. For example, we will be easily understood if we say ‘keyboard’ instead of ‘papan ketik.’
Considering the above points, I wouldn’t say either code-switching or code-mixing is wrong. I would still propose that for the sake of being on a mutual understanding, we stick with the language that will be understood better.
Using English in a Twitter debate with a fellow Indonesian might make us feel better as we can say what we want to say clearly, but if it ends up confusing our interlocutor even more, we won’t reach a middle ground anytime soon.
Share your thoughts on code-switching and code-mixing by mentioning us or write on the comment section below!
@unclee_eman: Keminggris. Sama 1 lgi minlish, kalo debat kudu di mix pake english biar dikira pinter dan berbobot bacotanya hehehe
Colloquially, yes. In Indonesian, English-Indonesian code-switching and code-mixing is known as Jaksel dialect, or bahasa daerah Jaksel, as people from southern Jakarta are considered by many to be the ones who popularised them @kaonashily: I thought it was bahasa Jaksel
@slvywn: code-mixing waktu kuliahnya biasanya dibarengin sama code-switching, pembahasan bagus ni
I know, right? I personally think it’s cool for us Indonesian to be able to use 3 different languages in one go. P.S.: The word ‘pisan’ that means ‘sangat’ or ‘sekali’ is also found in Balinese. @Inisinene: pada suatu hari “any idea? buntu pisan parah” me as sundanese proud but make it baker street lol
Exactly. @AM_Ihere: Lebih paham download daripada unduh.
#EngClass: Code-switching vs. Code-mixing
#EngKnowledge: English Words of Indonesian Origin
#EngTalk: English Words as Bahasa Indonesia Slang (2)
#EngTalk: Learning English vs. Indonesian Nationalism
Further #EngTalk: Penggunaan Bahasa Inggris di Indonesia