Indonesian NP's

Waruno Mahdi mahdi at FHI-Berlin.MPG.DE
Thu Aug 19 20:41:50 UTC 1999

> Can anyone point me to research on the structure of the Indonesian noun
> phrase?  I'm interested in such questions as whether, e.g., [toko buku] is
> a compound or not.

My view is that it is not, but just as in English (book shop) and in German
(Buchladen), one cannot insert a word in between without structural changes.
In Indonesian, however, the noun serving as qualitative attribute (by which
I mean nominal attribution not expressing possession, but some qualitative
characterisation) may in turn be the target of another qualitative attribute
(toko buku kanak-kanak "children's books store, store selling children's
books" / toko buku untuk anak-anak "children's book store, book store for

Some of this was touched upon in a paper of mine some years ago:

  Mahdi, Waruno, 1993, Distinguishing Homonymic Word Forms in Indonesian,
  pp. 181--216 in Ger P. Reesink (ed.), Topics in Descriptive Austronesian
  Linguistics, Semaian 11. Leiden: Vakgroep Talen en Culturen van
  Zuidoost-Azië en Oceanië.

and in a paper ("Inconsistent Distinction of Possessive and Qualitative
Nominal Attribution in Indonesian") that is to appear in a memorial volume
in honour of Jack Prentice, but I don't know when it is scheduled out.

Apart from that, you will find useful data in Jim Sneddon's Grammar of

Regards,   Waruno

Waruno Mahdi                  tel:   +49 30 8413-5411
Faradayweg 4-6                fax:   +49 30 8413-3155
14195 Berlin                  email: mahdi at
Germany                       WWW:

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