by Melody Violine
Ellipsis occurs when some essential structural element is omitted from a sentence or clause and can only be recovered by referring to an element in the preceding text (Nunan, 1993: 25). What about ellipsis in mobile phone text messages? As one message can only accomodate 160 characters, people try to put as many things as possible in a message, therefore ellipsis is very common to this particular medium of communication. However, this limitation also hampers people from creating to many ellipsis, concerning that the receivers would not understand their messages due to the lack of referrence.
This essay discusses what elements are common to be omitted, and how the gaps can be filled from the available text. Indonesian is deliberately chosen in order to cater some information about its text messages which is rarely found in books of learning this language. In the end, this composition would help foreign speakers to comprehend text messages written by Indonesians.
Data are taken from real text messages made by Indonesians in 2008. They ranged in age of 18 to 22, and were college students. Two years ago, the same data have been employed in a research of Indonesian cohesion markers. Since it is seen that there is no significant change in the style of text messaging, these data are considered as still acceptable.
The first part of each datum is the actual message of which there are many informal abbreviations and vocabularies. The second part provides its standardized version. The third part is the translation of the second part in linguistics form. The last part is the overall translation. The sign [/] indicates the end of rows in the text messages, and the parenthesis [(…)] is filled by a prediction of what has been omitted. Words in italic are interjections.
i. aku jg lg stress/mikirin acara aku../aku lg megang/acara.. kmu udh/uas aja.cepet/bgt.ayo kmu/smangat.pdhal/jumat ini aku pgn/ajakin ktemuan..
Aku juga sedang stres memikirkan acara aku…
Aku sedang memegang acara…
Kamu sudah UAS saja.
(Itu) Cepat sekali.
Ayo, kamu bersemangat.
Padahal, Jumat ini aku ingin mengajak (kamu) bertemu (aku)…
1SG also be distress MEN-think-KAN event 1SG…
1SG be MEN-handle event…
2SG already UAS just.
(That be) Quick very. Come.on, 2SG BER-spirit.
Actually, Friday this 1SG want MEN-ask (2SG) see (1SG)…
I am also having a distress of thinking my event…
I am handling an event…
You are already facing the final exam.
(That is) Very quick. Come on, you have to be full of spirit.
Actually, this Friday I want to ask (you) to see (me)…
This message contains three ellipsis. In the first one, the sender refered to the condition stated in the previous sentence. The second and the third ellipsis occur in an understanding that there is no other individual mentioned in the message, and hence they refers to the sender and the receiver.
ii. Pg Ipin.. Pin,nNti bS/Dtg lbh awal g? Ad/yg mau Imau/omongin!! Cz imaU/Mo crita k’ipin aj./BuTuh saran nech/pin..He.
Pin, nanti (aku/kamu) bisa datang lebih awal, tidak?
Ada yang ingin Imau bicarakan!
Karena Imau ingin bercerita pada Ipin saja.
(Aku) Butuh saran nih, Pin… He.
Pin, later (1SG/2SG) can come more early, NEG?
Be REL want Imau talk-KAN!
Because Imau wants BER-tell.a.story to Ipin only.
(1SG) Need suggestion nih, Pin… He.
Pin, later (you) can come earlier, or not?
There is something that Imau wants to talk about!
Because Imau only wants to tell a story to Ipin.
(Aku/Imau) Needs suggestion, Pin… He.
This message contains two ellipsis. The first ellipsis has two possibilities, but 2SG is more likely to be proper because 1SG would be more suitable with may come than can come. The sentence containing the second ellipsis is a plain statement that someone needs something. The sender should not be able to know the condition of the receiver, thereby 1SG can fill this gap.
iii. Mba lu bsk ada drmh/gag/jam brP pulang/kmpuz blz
Mbak, kamu besok ada di rumah, tidak?
Jam berapa (kamu) pulang dari kampus?
Balas (pesan ini).
Big.sister, 2SG tomorrow be at home, NEG?
Hour how.many (2SG) return from campus?
Reply (message this).
Big sister, will you be home tomorrow, or not?
On what time will (you) go back from campus?
Reply (this message).
The third message also contains two ellipsis. The first one makes the second sentence, which is an extended question of the first sentence, has no subject. Since the subject of the first sentence is 2SG, the second is as well. The last line is a common code in Indonesian text messaging if the sender truly expects the receiver to reply his/her message. Therefore, the second ellipsis should be filled by this message.
iv. Gk ad,Mar,,jdnya/qta ngsh list/formula itu+jualin/cd rkaman karina/yg uangnya dksh k/kpngurusan slnjtnya,,/eh, snin ngmpln tgs/apaan aj c?,,
Tidak ada, Mar…
Jadi kita memberi list formula itu ditambah menjual cd rekaman Karina yang uangnya diberikan kepada kepengurusan selanjutnya…
Eh, (pada hari) Senin (kita) mengumpulkan tugas apa saja sih?
NEG be, Mar…
So we give list formula the di+add sell CD recordings Karina REL money-NYA DI-give-KAN to committee subsequent…
Eh, (on) Monday (1PL) submit tasks what also sih?
There was none, Mar…
So we give a list of the formula and sell CD of Karina recordings which the money will be given to the subsequent committee…
Eh, (on) Monday (we will) submit what tasks?
This message has two ellipsis which both occurs in the last sentence. Preposition on was omitted because the sender refered to Monday, and not before Monday (Sunday or Saturday), or after Monday (Tuesday or Wednesday). That is why the preposition could be omitted without any further concern. The subsequent ellipsis is readable from the clause submit what tasks which implies that it was something both the sender and receiver (1PL) should had known.
v. Bebb,ntar lw khuz/gw ajj bsk c re2 da/uas../Kan gg enk klo/ganggu dy
Bebb, nanti kamu (pergi) ke rumah aku saja besok.
Si Rere ada UAS…
Kan tidak enak kalau (kita) mengganggu dia.
Bebb, later 2SG (go) to house 1SG tomorrow.
Si Rere be UAS…
For (1SG/1PL) NEG fine if (1PL/2SG) MEN-distract 3SG.
Baby, later you (go) to my house tomorrow.
Si Rere is having final exam…
For (I/we) would not feel fine if (we/you) distract him/her
The first ellipsis in this message occurs by omitting a verb. It is common in colloquial Indonesian to eliminate the word go when it is followed by the preposition to which is considered as sufficient to represents go to. The second ellipsis has two possibilities because the sender could not have known exactly how the receiver would feel. However, the last ellipsis only has one similar option to the second, because there is a possibility that only 2SG who would distract him/her (Si Rere).
vi. Ndut,jgn lpa bliin/cd ksong gw../ingt yh ndut,bli ny/3 cd!
Ndut, jangan lupa belikan CD kosong (untuk) aku…
Ingat ya, Ndut, (kamu) membelinya 3 cd!
Fatty, NEG forget buy-KAN empty CDs (for) me…
Remember ya, Fatty, buy-NYA 3 CDs!
Fatty, do not forget to buy empty CDs (for) me…
Remember, Fatty, the purchase is 3 CDs!
The only ellipsis in this message is actually critical. Beginners might do not realize this particular ellipsis. The key is the word belikan (buy-KAN) containing KAN which is a benefactive affix (to subject perform the action for someone else). Therefore, membelikan CD kosong aku means ”buy empty CDs for me”, not ”buy my empty CDs”.
In this message, it has to be noted that -NYA does not only used to form a possessive phrase. If -NYA is adhered to a verb, it would nominalize the verb. Therefore, the last sentence in this message does not contain any ellipsis as if the word belinya (buy-NYA) is still considered as a verb — (you) buy 3 CDs!
vii. Waduh Ti.., gw malez ke/warnetnya malem2.. Lo/Udah slesai blm? Msh lama ataw/dikit lg.coz gw lg di margonda,/mau sampe rmh lo. Klo msh lama.senin aja deh..bgm?
Aku malas (pergi) ke warnet malam-malam…
Kamu sudah selesai (…) belum?
(Kamu) Masih lama atau sedikit lagi?
Karena aku sedang di Margonda, akan sampai (di) rumah kamu.
Kalau (kamu) masih lama, (aku pergi ke rumah kamu) (pada hari) Senin saja deh…
1SG lazy (go) to internet.café at.night…
You already finish (do something in the internet café), NEG?
(2SG) still long or a.little.bit more?
Because 1SG be in Margonda, will arrive (at) house 2SG.
If (you) still long, (I will go to your house) (on day) Monday just deh…
I am lazy to (go) to internet café at night…
You have finished (do something in the internet café), or you haven’t?
(You are) still long or a little bit more?
Becaure I am in Margonda, going to arrive (at) your home.
If (you) still long, (I will go to your house) (on) Monday…
The last message is the most complicated one, and it contains seven ellipsis. The first ellipsis is the same one as the first ellipsis occurred in the fifth message. We can predict the clause do something in the internet café for the second ellipsis in this message from the previous sentence which only has internet café as its distinct information.
The third ellipsis occurs in a question extending the previous one, thereby both sentences have the same subject – 2SG. The fifth ellipsis has a connection to the fourth sentence, being marked by the word long. That is why 2SG is acceptable to fill this gap.
The fourth ellipsis should have been a preposition in to complete the spatial phrase. The sixth ellipsis I will go to your house is derived from the information provided in the previous sentence going to arrive (at) your home. The last ellipsis in this message is employed in the same way with the first ellipsis in the fourth message.
The most common ellipsis in Indonesian text messaging are pronouns 1SG, 2SG, and 2PL. The others are prepositions and clauses. There is only on verb, go, omitted in the messages analysed in this essay, but it is possible that there are other verbs (single verbs, not verbs in clauses) ommitted in Indonesian text messaging.
The gaps can be filled by considering some aspects in the messages. First, if the sentence is an extending of the previous one, the subject might be omitted because the sender refers to the same subject. Second, the meanings of affix adhered to a verb in the sentence can also make the sender feel he/she can eliminate a preposition. Omitting a preposition may also be done when the sender refers to the exact time unit, for example days, and not before or after the time mentioned. Moreover, a verb can be omitted when the following preposition is sufficient to transfer what the sender’s mean.
In the end, even though avoiding ellipsis is the best way to transfer messages thoroughly, foundings in this essay has proven that, in Indonesian, the existence of ellipsis in text messages would not hamper the receiver from obtaining the full meaning of the message. Furthermore, ellipsis in Indonesian text messages are limited and predictable.
Nunan, David (1993) Introducing Discourse Analysis. London: Penguin English.
Kridalaksana, Harimurti (2001) Linguistics Dictionary Third Edition. Jakarta: PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama.
Kridalaksana, Harimurti and Research Team on Linguistics of the Faculty of Literature of University of Indonesia (1999) “Syntax (Fifth Draft).” Study Material of Department of Indonesian Literature, Depok.
Simanjuntak, Dumaria (2008) “Cohesive Markers as Discourse Synchronizer: A Study on Kompas Short Stories Anthology.” A Magister Thesis of the Faculty of Humanities University of Indonesia, Depok.
The Dictionary Compiler Team of The Language Center (2002) The Big Dictionary of Indonesian Language. Jakarta: Balai Pustaka.
 English translation