Genre - A Useful Tool for Students Producing Texts in Bahasa Indonesia
Helen Pedler
Open Access College
Marden, South Australia
What is Genre
Genre is a recognisable type of text in a particular culture. Such text types have
predictable structure, layout and grammatical features. These recurring features of
various genres can be described and used as a guide to producing texts with the same
purpose. This is especially useful for learners who are still achieving literacy in the
relevant language and culture.
By making the common features of particular text types known to students, teachers
are providing tools for the students to construct their own texts in a culturally
appropriate way. Genre should not be seen as an inflexible set of rules. As a product
of social interaction it is subject to change, if there is a more efficient way to achieve
the purpose of the communication.
Studying Indonesian Texts
Senior secondary students studying Bahasa Indonesia in South Australia are required
to produce in Indonesian certain text types such as letters, diary entries, short stories
and so on. However, there are few guidelines for teachers and students about the
features of these texts in the Indonesian context. If genre is culturally determined, we
need to study Indonesian texts in order to find the recurring features of the text types
the students are asked to produce.
Before examining texts, I looked through some books in Indonesian that were used for
teaching Indonesian in a school in Bali where I was exchange teacher in 1998. I
discovered that some guidelines were given for Indonesian students to produce certain
text types (Surana 1996a; 1996b; 1996c).
- Menyusun buram laporan
- Segi-segi intrinsik sebuah novel
- Menulis hasil rapat
- Resensi buku-buku non-fiksi
- Menyusun laporan kegiatan
- Mengembangkan kerangka prosa eksposisi
These explanations deal with the structure of the texts, but not with other features
such as vocabulary and grammar. In order to find out more I began to study three
types of text in Indonesian: film reviews, reports, and short stories. My paper and
workshop focus on the film review.
Film Reviews in Bahasa Indonesia
A search for film reviews in Indonesian media (mostly accessed through the Internet)
turns up many reviews of films made outside Indonesia. While the reviews are, of
course, written in Indonesian, the films themselves are products of other cultures, and
so for the sample text to be more closely analysed I chose a review of an Indonesianmade film for children titled Bunga (Bali Post 18/2/01).
Appearance and layout
Because it appears in a newspaper, the review of Bunga features a headline that not
only gives the title of the film, but also some information about the story line: Film
"Bunga": Anak Panti yang Dituduh Berbohong.
In journals such as Gatra and Tempo, the film review is printed in columns and below
the headline there is a listing of key personnel such as sutradara, produser, pemain.
In the online newspaper reviews this is not the case, simply because they are online.
Generic structure
The review of Bunga begins with two paragraphs placing Bunga in the context of
previous and concurrently showing children's films. A third paragraph deals with the
distribution of the film, with comments from the director and from the producer
The following three paragraphs recount the plot of the film. In this review, the recount
of the plot includes revealing how the film ends. This is not usual in film reviews in
English, and would be unacceptable to many readers in Australia. I found that just
over half of the film reviews I read, revealed the ending in the recount of plot, so it
can not be said to be an invariable element of film reviews in Indonesian. Does it
reflect different expectations by film viewers in Indonesia? Is it an aspect of the genre
that is undergoing change? A review of the film Moulin Rouge in Suara Merdeka on
22/7/01 did not reveal what happened at the end: "…jawaban bisa Anda cari di layar
bioskop". However, in Bali Post (12/8/01) a review of the same film told us exactly
what happened.
After recounting the plot, the reviewer of Bunga next evaluates several aspects of the
film: acting, costume and script. The review finishes with a general evaluation and
recommendation "patut ditonton oleh keluarga kita". This type of closing evaluation
is common to all reviews that I read.
Field, Tenor and Mode of discourse
Field refers to the subject matter of the text, which in this case is the film that has
been viewed by the writer, who now describes and evaluates that film. Vocabulary
specific to this field is used in the review. Students learning how to write a film
review need to know vocabulary that can be used to describe and evaluate films.
Some examples from Bunga are listed below.
Helen Pedler Writing a film review in Bahasa Indonesia September 2001
film hitam-putih
film berwarna
happy ending
It can be seen from the list that one item is borrowed directly from English (happy ending) while
there is also a high incidence of words derived from English (kostum, dialog, akting). It seems
that use of English phrases, or Indonesianised English words or phrases, is common in film
The tenor of discourse refers to the relationship between the writer and reader, and the writer's
attitude to the subject (Halliday and Hasan 1985:33). The writer of a review has often seen the
film before the general public, and so has information that others do not have. Reviews are
written in a declarative style, giving an impression that there is no question about the writer's
authority to judge the film.
This occurs partly because the reviews are composed of statements. For example, the only
question in the review of Bunga, is a rhetorical question that intensifies, rather than weakens, the
writer's authority (Masa sih anak seusia Bunga tidak tahu arti Natal dan Lebaran?).
Writers' attitude to their subject and audience is also revealed through their use of words such as
harus, seharusnya, mungkin, bisa, semestinya (modals) to express notions like obligation,
possibility, ability and necessity. For example, in the writers' evaluative comments, the use of
modals could intensify or weaken their air of authority, depending on the choice made: "film ini
harus ditonton" is a stronger recommendation than " film ini patut ditonton".
In the review of Bunga, modal verbs are not often used in the writer's evaluation. The only
examples are:
Helen Pedler Writing a film review in Bahasa Indonesia September 2001
Ia bisa membawakan perannya … and
Mestinya Bunga tampak kumal dan lusuh …
Both declare the writer's opinion authoritatively. However, we should be aware that the very
absence of modals can also be significant, when it means a statement is made without
qualification, such as: "tak kalah ada akting Cindy Cenora".
Comment adjuncts also convey a writer's opinion. (Butt et al. 1997:86) In this review they are
(my underlining):
Sayang, kostum Bunga yang selalu rapi … (clearly signalling disappointment)
and the beginning of the rhetorical question already mentioned:
Masa sih anak seusia Bunga tidak tahu arti Natal dan Lebaran?
The writer's attitude is also made clear by other lexical choices such as use of intensifiers or
modifiers with adjectives: cukup gemilang; sangat pas; or by adverbs: memang berakhir happy
ending; secara keseluruhan.
In learning about this genre, students need to be aware of the relationship between writer and
reader that is a feature of the film review, and to know some of the ways to use language in order
to create the same tenor in their own text.
The reviews studied were written texts. In these texts, writers use language in a way that is
appropriate and effective for their purpose. Lexical items, grammatical patterns, types of clauses,
and cohesive devices are some of the aspects of language in which writers make choices.
Passive and active voice
Use of the passive di- form in the review is most consistent in the "recount" section of the review
of Bunga. In the 21 lines of text used to tell the story, there are 13 examples of di- verbs; while in
the remaining 31 lines of the review there are 11 di- verbs. Students writing a review in
Indonesian need to be aware that the recount of plot features a relatively high frequency of the
di- verb form.
Textual cohesion in this text, as in other text types, is achieved by means including the use of
cohesive devices - lexical repetition, pronominals, demonstratives, substitution and ellipsis - and
use of conjunctions.
Lexical repetition is partly realised by the use of vocabulary specific to the world of film. As an
example, the word "film" itself is repeated in different ways such as:
film musikal anak-anak
film sejenis
film anak-anak
film hitam-putih
film anak
film berwarna
Helen Pedler Writing a film review in Bahasa Indonesia September 2001
In addition terms such as "karyanya" and the title of the film (also the name of the main
character) "Bunga" are used. In the retelling of the plot, names of characters are repeated, as well
as thematic ideas such as bohong, berbohong, and pembohong.
Pronominal forms such as ia and -nya are used to substitute for nouns, especially in retelling the
plot. These almost always follow their linguistic referent as in:
"Bunga disuruh menulis seratus kali …. karena ia merasa tidak berbohong, yang ditulisnya
adalah … "
At times the pronominal precedes its referent:
"Saking kesalnya, Bunga melarikan diri … ";
The demonstratives "ini" and "itu" are important for cohesion in Indonesian. In the sentence:
"Hal itu dikarenakan, …." the reference is to the entire clause that precedes it. ("Film Bunga
semula direncanakan beredar di bulan puasa Ramadan dan Lebaran tahun silam, namum
diundur lagi." )
In this case the word "hal" has a substitution function, as does "itu".
Also functioning like a demonstrative is the word "tersebut" which always follows its referent.
"Lepas dari kekurangan-kekurangan tersebut …".
In this case the tersebut refers to information in the preceding five sentences.
Ellipsis is common in Indonesian sentences, often where English would use "it". For example
there is no visible subject of the verb diundur in the following sentence:
"Film Bunga semula direncanakan beredar di bulan puasa Ramadan dan Lebaran tahun silam,
namum diundur lagi."
Cohesion and flow of the text are greatly enhanced by use of appropriate conjunctions in this
review. They help to connect clauses and signal the writer's purpose and message. There is a
variety of connectors used, and we should aim for our students to be aware of the range and uses
of these. Some of the conjunctions used between clauses in the review of Bunga are:
di mana
Apart from the film related vocabulary, most of these aspects of language are not specific
to the genre being considered, and similar features are likely to be found in other written
text types. Understanding and practising the use of the various cohesive devices in
Indonesian is essential for students attempting to produce any written texts.
Helen Pedler Writing a film review in Bahasa Indonesia September 2001
Summary of features of the film review in Indonesian
 If the review is in a magazine or newspaper, it is likely to have a headline that gives
extra information as well as the title of the film; then possibly lists (for example)
Pemain, Sutradara, Penulis, Naskah, Produser. It might be written in columns.
 ORIENTATION The opening paragraph(s) refer to the type of film it is, may
compare it with others of similar type, or mention awards won. The writer's approval
or disapproval will be clear.
 RECOUNT The plot of the film is retold, sometimes including the ending. In retelling
the plot, the passive di- form is frequently used.
 DISCUSSION After the recount of the plot, some technical aspects of the film might
be discussed in more detail (direction, acting, setting, costume, music).
 EVALUATION The review finishes with evaluation of the film and recommendation
as to what type of audience might enjoy it.
 Statements about the film are made with authority, with the writer in the position of
 Vocabulary specific to discussion of film is used. Some of this is likely to be
borrowed from English.
 Cohesion is ensured, as in any text, by the use of cohesive devices including
conjunctions linking clauses as well as pronominals and demonstratives, along with
lexical repetition.
Summary of implications for teaching students to write film reviews in Indonesian
 Students need to have seen film reviews from Indonesian media, so that they know
the usual physical appearance (headline, list, columns).
 Students should be aware of the generic structure of reviews:
- orientation
- recount
- discussion
- evaluation
 Students need to learn specific vocabulary related to the world of film-making and
 Students need to be aware that reviews are written with an authoritative tenor, and
how to achieve this by use of comment adjuncts and use or omission of modals.
 Students need to know how to write a recount, and be aware that object focus or
passive forms are frequently used when doing this.
 Students need to be aware of the importance of cohesion and coherence in written
texts and understand how cohesion is achieved in Indonesian texts.
Helen Pedler Writing a film review in Bahasa Indonesia September 2001
References and Bibliography
Bali Post 18 Februari 2001 "Film Bunga: Anak Panti yang Dituduh Berbohong" reviewed
by Ipik Tanoyo
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Grammar: An Explorer's Guide. Sydney: National Centre for English Language
Teaching and Research, Macquarie University.
Derewianka, Beverly (1990). Exploring how texts work. Rozelle: Primary English
Teachers' Association.
Halliday, M.A.K. and Ruqaiya Hasan (1985). Language, context and text: Aspects of
language in a social-semiotic perspective. Victoria: Deakin University Press
Halliday, M.A.K. and Ruqaiya Hasan: Penerjemah Drs ASruddin Barori Tou, Penyunting
Prof. Drs M. Ramlan (1992) Bahasa, Konteks, dan Teks: aspek-aspek Bahasa
Dalam Pandangan Semiotik Sosial. Yogyakarta: Gadjah Mada University Press.
Hardy, Judy and Klarwein, Damien. (1990). Written Genres in the Secondary School:
Copy free text models for classroom use. Cairns: Deparment of Education,
Hollingworth, Ann (additional material by Margaret Emerick) (1996). Indonesian
Grammar and Discourse: Study Guide. Darwin: Northern Territory University.
Littlefair, Alison B. (1991) Reading all types of writing: The importance of genre and
register for reading development. Buckingham: Open University Press
Locke, Terry. (1998) Close-up on Literary Text. Auckland: Addison Wesley Longman
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Surana (1996a) Materi Pelajaran Bahasa Indonesia 2B: Untuk SLTP Kelas 2 Tengah
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SMU Tengah Tahun Pertama. Solo: PT Tiga Serangkai Pustaka Mandiri
Surana (1996c) Materi Pelajaran Bahasa Indonesia 3B: Untuk SLTP Kelas 3 Tengah
Tahun Kedua. Solo: PT Tiga Serangkai Pustaka Mandiri.
Woodhouse, Cecelia (1993). Truth to Tell: A Non-Fiction Anthology. Melbourne:
Longman Cheshire
Helen Pedler Writing a film review in Bahasa Indonesia September 2001