Imitative Reduplication

In imitative reduplication the two parts of the word are not identical, though they are similar. Nouns, adjectives and verbs can all undergo imitative reduplication. The variation between the two parts of the word can involve either consonants or vowels.

Imitative reduplication is not productive; new forms can not be created nor can the two parts of the word change places. The reduplication usually indicates variety or emphasizes the meaning of the first component.

Imitative reduplication is not greatly different from some types of compounding.

The Difference In The First Consonant

Meaning
sayur vegetable
lauk side dish
ramah friendly
cerai separated
kaya rich
pecah broken
Meaning
sayur-mayur vegetables
lauk-pauk side dishes
ramah-tamah hospitable & friendly
cerai-berai scattered, dispersed
kaya-raya very wealthy
pecah-belah* broken into pieces

*) In this case two consonants are different.

The Difference In The Vowels – Sound Change
There may be only one vowel difference.

Meaning
desas-desus rumour
warna-warni all kinds of color
gerak-gerik movements, gestures

Usually there are two vowel differences. It is most common for the first component to contain the vowels o – a and the second component to contain the vowels a – i, although these are not the only combinations. Often with this type neither part of the word can occur alone:

Meaning
bolak – balik to and fro
mundar – mandir back and forth
obrak – abrik destroy, smash to pieces
tindak – tanduk behaviour
pontang – panting run helter skelter
teka -teki riddle
asal -usul origin, descent

Ref:
Indonesian Reference Grammar By Dr. James N. Sneddon

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