Waruno Mahdi mahdi at
Sun Apr 9 15:43:27 UTC 2000

The ongoing discussion on the distinction between geminated consonants
(cluster of two identical consonants straddling the syllable junction)
and long consonants (single long consonantal segment lying entirely
within one syllable and either preceding or following the syllable
base = syllabic 'vowel') seems to be the right moment to call
attention to a further manifestation of 'consonant expansion',
that to syllabic consonant. It is imaginable that this could under
circumstance get mistaken for long consonant.

In Indonesian Malay, which does not have long consonants on the phonemic
plain, and only has consonant gemination when identical consonants meet
coincidentally at morph juncture, there is under certain circumstances
variation between single initial nasal or lateral and the respective
syllabic consonant.

All words beginning with shwa (mid central unrounded vowel) followed by
either a nasal /n,m,ng,ny/ or by /l/ have a variant pronunciation
(in free variation), in which the shwa appears to fuse with the nasal
or lateral to form the respective syllabic consonant. For example
(preglottalization of initial vowels is automatic in Indonesian):

  _empat_ 'four'  /@mpat/  [?@mpat <-> ?Mpat]
  _enam_  'six'   /@nam/   [?@nam  <-> ?Nam]
  _elang_ 'eagle' /@lang/  [?@lang <-> ?Lang]

(where ? = glottal stop, @ = shwa, capitalization/uppercase indicates
syllabic realization). Both variant pronunciations are bisyllabic.
In the following example, there is a further variant, a doublet (not
in automatic free variation) which is monosyllabic:

  _emas_ ~ _mas_ 'gold' /@mas ~ mas/ [?@mas <-> ?Mas ~ mas]

The two latter terms in the phonetic rendering exemplify the contrast
between syllabic consonant ('pseudo-long consonant') and normal ('short')

Aloha,  Waruno

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