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
|ramah-tamah||hospitable & friendly|
|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.
|warna-warni||all kinds of color|
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:
|bolak – balik||to and fro|
|mundar – mandir||back and forth|
|obrak – abrik||destroy, smash to pieces|
|tindak – tanduk||behaviour|
|pontang – panting||run helter skelter|
|asal -usul||origin, descent|
Indonesian Reference Grammar By Dr. James N. Sneddon