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Alay (or 4L4Y, Anak Layangan or Anak Lebay) is a pop culture phenomenon in Indonesia. It is a stereotype describing something “tacky” and “cheesy” (norak or kampungan, only in Indonesian). The Alay culture phenomena spans over a wide array of styles in music, dress, and messaging. It has often been compared to that of the Jejemon phenomenon originating from the Philippines, and also the Swag[disambiguation needed] phenomenon. Although, the former emerged much later and the latter was even admired in the west.
The word "Alay" or "Alayen" has no exact meaning or obvious derivation. Various definitions of alay are offered when one types it on a search engine. One theory that is widely accepted is that "Alay" is a portmanteau of the term "Anak Layangan" (Indonesian: Kiteflyer), a pejorative describing someone having certain physical attributes from spending most of their time outside and getting sunburnt (e.g. reddened hair and skin). Also kite is considered as cheap entertainment to the middle and lower class in modern Indonesia, stereotyping alay as a part of that class.
Due to the very low significance of the alay phenomenon in the Indonesian society (considered to be a minor social change), very little documentation of its emergence exists. Some believe the term was first coined by Sabda Ahessa, son of politician Sys NS. According to alay today, alay originated from the social networking site Friendster. As early as 2004, Indonesians, regardless of their social background, decorated their Friendster profile with leet texts, glitter banners, and close-up profile pictures. This social networking trend would later on be "condemned" by many towards the end of the decade when Facebook overpowered Friendster. However, the people who have Alay characteristics tend to use Facebook more than any other social media.
Alay text (Indonesian:Tulisan alay ) is a form of the Indonesian language that has undergone "excessive leet transformation". Contrary to the popular belief that it is "destroying" the national language, grammatical standards are met in contrast to the modern Indonesian slang language. Similar to the jejebets, alay texts offer an alternative in compressing words so that they are under the 160 character-limit in text messages, often to the point that they are impossible to read. Rules in capitalization are mostly ignored.
Alay text may have originated from the method of making strong passwords for internet accounts, which requires combinations of small and capital letters, numbers, as well as special characters. Normally, to keep the password meaningful and easy to remember, the password would consist of normal words, where some letters are capitalised or substituted with numbers (e.g. the letter a with 4, the letter o with 0). Soon this becomes a habit in writing text in general, and improved with mixing English and Indonesian in one sentence.
Confusing text that could not be understood properly and probably has no meaning (except for the writer), is also considered as Alay Text. This type of text usually contains information of the writer's mood and feeling, it is also common for the text to contain the writer's own philosophy on a certain topic such as : love, heart break, and relationship.
According to The Jakarta Post, a high school student from East Java initiated the trend and shot to fame after her writings were discussed in forums and blogs not because they were great, but they were in "code". Her approach in writing attracted a lot of attention, with some people reproducing her writing in forums and blogs.
There is a website dedicated to translate normal Indonesian language into alay language.
- [ The Jakarta Post]
-  (Indonesian)
-  Kamus Alay (Indonesian)