Master Your Writing: Literacy on Grammar Checkers and Digital Skill
March 22, 2022 12:56 am ||
Author: Alfredo Putrawidjoyo
Editor: Anisa Pratita Kirana Mantovani
“Master language, master the world,” says Narabahasa, the educational wing of the Language Development and Fostering Agency (Badan Bahasa) which itself is part of the Indonesian Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology. Meanwhile, their neighboring ministry, the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology is promoting the four pillars of digital literacy. Said four pillars consist of digital skills, digital culture, digital ethics, and digital safety. In light of this, the work between the two ministries can be synthesized because language is intertwined in the digital realm. Take, for example, programming languages and binary language. Moreover, correlated with digital culture and ethics, Microsoft published research which founds that Indonesian speaks the most foul in social media across all of Southeast Asia. Then, correlated with digital safety, social media users in Indonesia must also be careful when speaking—especially when being critical—so as not to be subjugated by the EIT Law.
Writing is the most prescient issue between language and digital literacy. Because, before the phenomenon written above, there is one who has undertaken the activity of writing. Writing messages, tweets, captions, and code for social media and apps. Writing is the hilt, then downstream is the interaction of the digital world. Digital services can also assist writing in itself, especially grammar checkers. Most familiar of which is Grammarly. How not, legions of their ads can be found on social media like YouTube. Then, if Grammarly is your personal editor for English, for Bahasa Indonesia you have Sipebi.
Sipebi is a software released by Badan Bahasa. Its function is to edit and provide correct spelling suggestions—according to Sipebi. Not only corrections, like Grammarly, Sipebi also provides an analysis of why the app suggest these changes. However, the two software is not one and the same. Sipebi is still in its infancy; the app is not yet able to provide advanced input such as better grammar, synonyms, language style, and sentence effectiveness. Furthermore, if Grammarly has add-ons for browsers and word processors, Sipebi can only be operated as a standalone application.
Both Sipebi and Grammarly are embodiments of digital skill literacy. Perchance, widespread use of grammar checkers will reduce typos that cause commotions. For example, if the Twitter admin for the Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle Cilacap uses Sipebi, they might not have mistyped “kerja” (work) to “kera” (ape). In addition, it might minimize your interaction with online language fundamentalist that insist on correcting the usage of di when it is used incorrectly (either combined or disjointed) and those highly sensitive of wrong grammar usage.
However, Sipebi and Grammarly—along with other grammar checkers—are not perfect. First, there is no such thing as truly being right or wrong in language. However, it is true that spelling or punctuation mistakes, especially on social media, can lead to misunderstandings. Even harassment. Nonetheless, an error does not necessarily mean being incorrect. In language, every so-called error is permitted as long as the message is conveyed in accordance with the meaning intended by the sender. Regardless of the spelling, whether the di and ke is combined or disjointed, the use of standard words (as it is codified in the dictionary), and the use of foreign words or phrases.In fact, it might be the case that translating an already popular foreign word or phrase with an equivalent word or phrase in Bahasa Indonesia actually makes it more foreign. Example: Waring Wera Wanua translated from World Wide Web and takarir as the translation for caption.
Second, it is reasonable to suggest that the changes offered by the grammar checker of choice are wrong, inappropriate, and potentially diverge from the author’s intent. For example, Sipebi suggests Cadas when the intended word is Desa Wadas, or Grammarly being headstrong in suggesting an author to change passive sentences to active sentences. Grammarly is also ever-present in suggesting changes to words and phrases it deems as too wordy. Changing words or phrases can potentially change the meaning and make it no longer fit the context, while passive sentence is a valid rhetorical choice.
Indeed, an offer being made by grammar checkers are nothing more. They are an offer. However, there is a present risk when the ones using grammar checkers are those who are not confident in their linguistic capability. As a result, they are more easily swayed and accept edits without a second thought. Writers, even editors and proofreaders, both human and machine, can be wrong. This is paramount. So, when one would find a written word that can lead to misunderstanding, there is no need for an uproar. What is needed is a dialogue and make changes when necessary. For this to be a reality, it is contingent upon the other three forms of digital literacy. So as to mitigate eff and blind, clashes, and prosecution.
Grammar checkers do come in handy. When used wisely and in certain situations, they may save time and help aspiring writers—and their readers. However, when used indiscriminately, it will diverge from the purpose of their developers. Namely, not only correcting the authors but also helping them become better writers.
In the case of linguistics, digital literacy skill will not replace literacy in a more analog sense: reading, listening, and seeing works of culture. By consuming works of culture, prospective writers—of messages, tweets, captions—can experience the cutting edge of language. Not only in books but also on Twitter, Wattpad, blogs, and the remote corners of the World Wide Web. If Pramoedya Ananta Toer once said, “Writing is working for immortality.” Then, it must also be understood that writing is not immortal in itself, and language is not static and definitive. It is dynamic, contextual, and alive, given breath by new texts, including yours.
 Pratiwi Agustini, “Empat Pilar Literasi Untuk Dukung Transformasi Digital,” Ditjen Aptika (blog), January 17, 2021, https://aptika.kominfo.go.id/2021/01/empat-pilar-literasi-untuk-dukung-transformasi-digital/.
 Darmawati Majid, “Berbahasa Satu, Bahasa Beringas,” OMONG-OMONG (blog),November 18, 2021, https://omong-omong.com/berbahasa-satu-bahasa-beringas/.
 Ariel Heryanto, “Gila Hormat,” Kompas.id, June 26, 2021, sec. Opinion, https://www.kompas.id/baca/opini/2021/06/26/gila-hormat-2/.
 Kompas.com, “Mengenal Sipebi, Aplikasi Penyuntingan Ejaan Bahasa Indonesia,” KOMPAS.com, November 15, 2021, https://www.kompas.com/tren/read/2021/11/15/074529265/mengenal-sipebi-aplikasi-penyuntingan-ejaan-bahasa-indonesia.
 Indah Mutiara Kami, “Akun PDIP Cilacap Minta Maaf soal Typo ‘JokowiNyataKeranya,’” detiknews, February 19, 2017, https://news.detik.com/berita/d-4435106/akun-pdip-cilacap-minta-maaf-soal-typo-jokowinyatakeranya.
 “Waring Wera Wanua,” in Wikipedia bahasa Indonesia, ensiklopedia bebas, February 5, 2022, https://id.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Waring_Wera_Wanua&oldid=20498775.
 Harrits Rizqi Budiman, “Mengganti Istilah Asing dengan Yang Lebih Asing?,” August 13, 2021, https://narabahasa.id/linguistik-umum/mengganti-istilah-asing-dengan-yang-lebih-asing.