“Oppa” is Now Officially a Standard Indonesian Word

Word "Oppa" in KBBI
Word “Oppa” in KBBI

The vocabulary “Oppa” is an absorption word from Korean and is now legal in the Indonesian language. This is evidenced by the insertion of the vocabulary in the last edition of the KBBI (2021). Theoretically, loanwords are absorbed into four patterns: adoption, adaptation (generally phonological adaptation), translation, and creation. Because there were no changes in pronunciation (phonological structure) and writing, the word Oppa was adopted by KBBI.

“I’ve checked in KBBI, the writing is the same as the pronunciation, even though in prescriptive language theory, the consonant elements are the same and, in a row, it’s not standard (the word Oppa uses double p). This is because there is an opa vocabulary with a different meaning, so double p is used,” said Dr. Dany Ardhian, a lecturer in the Study Programme of Indonesian Language and Literature, Faculty of Cultural Studies (FCS) Universitas Brawijaya (UB).

“Well, another consideration is the frequency of use in the media (especially social media). Frequent use will cause the vocabulary to be popular and people need to search for the intended meaning. The Language Agency is responsible for the explanation,” he continued.

“Besides, the Indonesian vocabulary does not exist for a meaning similar to the meaning of the word Oppa, which is a call from women to older men, usually those who have close relationships or have known them for a long time. Indonesian has the vocabularies mas, paklik, and pakde, but the meaning can be gender-free (it can be female-male, or male-male). So, that means we don’t have that vocabulary, so to fill in the lexical gaps (read words), the vocabulary was taken into the KBBI, incidentally from Korean,” he explained.

Dr. Dany Ardhian also explained that there was another reason that this vocabulary had an honorific element. This honorific is for respecting someone (could be due to factors of age, social status, gender, or religion). This is a good reason for the Language Agency to include this vocabulary. Many new vocabularies have sprung up, but they are not accommodated (for example, because of dirty words, taboos, rude words) even though they are already popular in the community.

Regarding its use, currently, it is only involved in spoken language (can be spoken or written spoken languages, such as dialogue in drama texts, novels, or short stories). It is not yet used in the official written language variety.

“Maybe later, over time and there is no (or not yet) regional vocabulary to replace it, this vocabulary will be used in the official written language,” said Dr. Danny Ardhian.

“Semantically, the meanings of words that appear, especially loanwords, tend to shift. I’m guessing that it will be generalized (broad meaning) and more ameliorative (good meaning). There may also be additional semantic features, such as respected people, not only for women to men who are older and more familiar. In line with the theory, the honorific element will go straight to always increase its honorific power. Maybe later the word Oppa can be used for a subordinate (woman) to his superior (male),” he concluded.

Besides Oppa, several Korean vocabularies are listed in the KBBI, including bingsu, bibimbap, kimci, bulgogi, mandu, mokbang, hanbok, gocujang, manhwa, and bancan. [dts/PR FCS]