Abdul Wahid(1*)

(1) Universitas Gadjah Mada
(*) Corresponding Author


Language and media has always been in a mutual relationship. Historical record shows that mass media, such as newspaper, magazine and other products of printing technology, played a very instrumental role in the development of language and its changing practices and functions within society. In Indonesia, this can be seen during the late colonial period – particularly from early twentieth century onward – when printing technology was introduced on massive scale as part of the capitalist expansion to produce an increasing number of newspapers, magazines, journals, and other publications. These mass media boosted the literacy rate of Indonesian population and created a ‘reader community’, and cultivated written tradition, which later stimulated wider cultural and political literacy among Indonesian society. This ‘printing capitalism’ also facilitated the evolution of vernacular language and brought them into a modern written world that partially supported the identity formation of local society in a colonial context. More importantly, the mass media also mediated the transformation and institutionalization of Malay from a ‘vernacular language’ into a ‘national language’, known later as Bahasa Indonesia. A growing number of Western educated Indonesians used and practiced Bahasa Indonesia in their reading, writing, and speaking activities abandoning the Dutch as ‘national language’ of the colonial state of Netherlands Indies. In turn, this escalated the formation of Indonesian nationalism and forged the nationalist movement and the national identity to counter and liberate Indonesia from the tyranny of colonialism (Anderson, 1991; Adam,1995).


editorial, language, media

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Anderson, Benedict. (1991). Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Revised 13th edition. London/New York: Verso

Hill, David T & Sen, Krishna. (2005). The Internet in Indonesia’s New Democracy. London/New York: Routledge. Hill, David T & Sen,

Krishna. (2007). Media, Culture, and Politics in Indonesia.Jakarta: PT. Equinox Publishing Indonesia

Seargeant, Philip & Tagg, Caroline (eds.). (2014). The Language of Social Media: Identity and Community on the Internet. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.22146/jh.11408

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