Monday, September 11, 2006

Jakarta is such a fun place to live that I just can't stop enjoying living here. One of the things that often makes ma laugh is use of English language in advertising. In Jakarta you can often see a big advertisement in a major newspaper written in English language and full of grammar and spelling mistakes.

I'm not a native English speaker, thus my English is not perfect either, but in my professional work such as writing project reports I actually try hard to use proper grammar and try to make sure there are no basic spelling mistakes in the text. I think in advertising industry much stricter rules should apply and in my opinion companies should verify content of the advertisement with professional English copywriters before releasing an advertisement for print. Unfortunately this is rarely the case and often results in extremely ridiculous advertisements – actually highly embarrassing to the advertiser as many Indonesians speak good English.

I also have to mention about advertisements with content mixed between English and Indonesian language which often results in extremely hilarious advertisements. The most disturbing example of such poor advertising practice you can observe at Kelapa Gading area, just next to McDonalds: As you can see on this huge banner PT. Venus Ceramica Indonesia have a special Lebaran promotion which is "Free 500kg Semen"! Myself I'm very curious how they organise such massive supply of semen as I think it requires thousands of men to produce this huge amount. Maybe it has something to do with the number of "executive clubs" and "massage places" in the nearby area or maybe something to do with the Mona Lisa herself? You'll probably have to ask the advertiser.

Actually, the name of the advertised product "Monalisa Tiles" has some interesting language background. The product name sounds like the tiles are produced somewhere in Europe and definitely must be a very exclusive masterpice produced by Italian artists ... right? Well, not really. The tiles are actually produced in China by entirely Chinese company! Gosh, I think I was wrong all my life as apparently Mona Lisa comes from China, not Florence. I should also start to pronounce it correctly as I think it should be Mo-Na-Li-Xa, of Chinese painting Si-Fu (master) Da-Win-Ci.

Note: Indonesian word "semen" means "cement" in English, "free" is not an Indonesian word.

8 comments:

ak said...

Free Semen... sounds yummy, no I mean yuck!

BW said...

Hmm ...
actually it depends on the audience, and since most of people here is Indonesian, I think they will read it as "free cements". However, it's quite funny to read your article :)

Marek Bialoglowy said...

I've found it funny because of the use of the word "Free". This title is quite correct in English, but it is incorrect in bahasa Indonesia. Tidak ada kata "free" di kamus punya saya. I wouldn't have written about this if they had used word like "bebas" or "gratis". In my opinion it's important to promote use of proper bahasa Indonesia and use of local language in advertising. Since we live in Indonesia, the advertising industry should use bahasa Indonesia, not English. In Poland/France and number of other countries there are even legal regulations regarding use of foreign language in advertising and business. I've heard it is the same here (not sure if that's true), but the law does not seem to be enforced. Anyway, I think I should try to write some posts in bahasa Indonesia :-)

javajive said...

Sorry, but I had to link to this post via my blog, as I drive past this sign on a daily basis.

Indi said...

marek,

even "GRATIS" is a spanish word for "FREE" (of charge).

wicak said...

marek, have you ever seen the many "cat ovens" that are scattered around Jakarta? a friend asked me about this, and asked if cats are a local delicacy...
< cat = paint, oven=oven, booth, so it really means spray booth for paiting cars, etc >

Marek Bialoglowy said...

Cat ovens? Never seen. Have you got a photo of this "cat oven"?

yudha said...

good ad, isn't it? draws so much attention. i never knew monalisa tile before.
anyway broken english now is tidak apa-apa :~)

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