gil at EVA.MPG.DE
Wed Sep 22 20:25:54 UTC 1999
Here are some comments on pronouns and spatial expressions in
Indonesian. The comments are an abridged version of a personal message
I sent to Susan a few days ago, in response to a message from her making
reference to a conversation we had in Amsterdam at the ALT meeting last
Here are my comments on your notes.
> Here are my loosely reconstructed notes from our brief chat:
> 1. In Indonesian, (Jakarta dialect) pronouns are often avoided for
> politeness. Instead, locatives are used for pronominal reference:
I would rather say: locatives are one of number of strategies that are
instead of pronouns:
> 1st sing sini (here - proxmimal)
> 2nd sing situ (there - medial)
> -- sana (there - distal)
Yup. But I think sini can also be used for 2nd singular, if, for
the speaker grasps the hearer's hand while saying this.
> My understanding is that these are only used for 1st and 2nd person
> singular, not 3rd person,
I THINK that's right.
> and that these locatives are not used for plural
> pronominal reference.
> What factors influence whether or not these forms
> are used?
Sorry, again I don't know enough.
> 2. Pronouns can occur with demonstratives:
> pronoun + demonstratrative
> In what contexts deos this occur?
Again, I really couldn't say.
> What is the morpho-syntactic status of these constructions?
I would argue that in most colloquial varieties of Indonesian, neither
pronouns nor demonstratives constitute a well-defined grammatical class;
hence, a two-word construction glossed as "you this" is grammatically
identical to almost any other two-word construction, eg. "book this" or
> What meaning do these constructions hold?
I would say, simply the sum of the meanings of the constituent parts.
"you this" means, simply, "speaker that is proximate".
> Is there a complete paradigm of these forms (persons, numbers etc..?)
Yes. (This follows from the preceding two claims, to the effect that
are simple collocations of the respective items.)
> Could you please provide examples?
kamu ini "2[sg/pl] proximal-demonstrative"
mereka itu "3[pl] distal-demonstrative"
> Actually, it would be helpful to have data covering the entire
It's actually a more-or-less open class (which is another way of saying
there isn't really a pronominal system at all).
> Have you published on this?
No. The only reference I can think of is a very recent article in
Linguistics about pronouns in some dialects of Indonesian, but I'm not
whether it deals with the issues you're interested in.
> 3. In Indonesian, a wide range of referential terms serve as pronouns
> (pronouns, names, kinship terms, titles...). The choice is influenced
> sociolinguistic factors.
> I'm curious about this. How does one know these terms are functioning
Well, as I've suggested above, I don't think there is a category of
in the usual sense in Indonesian. A more accurate statement would be:
Indonesian, a wide range of referential terms may be used to refer to
speaker and/or hearer of an utterance.
Department of Linguistics
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Inselstrasse 22, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany
Email: gil at eva.mpg.de
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