During this year’s general elections, the word contreng is becoming popular and well known. This word is replacing the word coblos, which was very popular for years to indicate the act of voting. For election this year, the Indonesian government has specified a “v” mark or contreng to indicate the selected candidates. Contreng means scratch or “v” mark. Mencontreng means to give a “v” mark. In the previous election, rather than using a check mark, holes were punched (usually with a nail) into the pictures of the candidates.
According to Kamus Besar Bahasa Indonesia (KBBI), the word coblos means to stab. This old way is changed, because it is considered as a violent action, such as to stab, to tear, or to spoil. To give a “v” mark or mencontreng, is considered more educated, because it writes something, instead of tear something.
According to KBBI, the word contreng is a slang. The standard word is centang. The word centang has 3 meanings :
1. cen•tang-pe•re•nang means irregular, messy, disorder.
2. correction mark. Shaped like “v”. Men•cen•tang means to give a “v” mark in a writing (as a notification).
3. men•centang means to hit or to punch.
In the election context, the word contreng or centang means the correction mark (#2). Therefore, mencontreng or mencentang means to give a mark on something as a sign. It means that whatever the shape is, we should give a mark to the selected candidates. It doesn’t really matter with the shape, as long as we use our rights wisely.*