Header image, showing one hand holding the word 'lockdown' and another holding 'karantina'

Indonesia’s Bastardised Covid-19 Jargon Points to Deeper Problems

In the midst of the worsening viral outbreak of Covid-19 in Indonesia, photos of the use of bastardised English terms connected with the pandemic by ordinary Indonesians can serve as comic relief. One shows the entrance to what looks like a village with a makeshift bamboo barrier bearing a sign that proclaims “Lockdont”.  Elsewhere, the word “lockdown” is spelled as “lauk daun”. Other variants include “download” and “slowdown”.

While it is easy just to laugh off Indonesia’s malaprops, mostly hailing from the less educated and lower socio-economic classes, it is important to recognise that these new-fangled foreign terms were first imposed on them by the government and the local media.  The Indonesian authorities have failed to communicate the containment policy of Covid-19  to ordinary Indonesians, and instead have highlighted the stark inequality that characterises Indonesian society.

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