Colloquial Indonesian has a large number of words – called discourse particles – which provide comment of various kinds on what is being said. They are very frequent in informal speech and are an essential component of colloquial Indonesian discourse.

These words or particles form a link between the speaker and listener, functioning as intimacy signals or sharing devices, reinforcing the social links between speaker and listener.

The particles are all short, usually of one syllable. None of them forms part of the grammar of the structures to which they are attached; they lie outside the information structure, offering comment on it. Intonation and tone of voice often contribute greatly to the meaning of the particles.

This chapter will explain the rough guide to the meaning of the particles because it is often extremely difficult to provide an English equivalent which catches the illocutionary force or nuance of meaning in a particular content.

Those particles are: deh, dong, kan, kek, kok, loh, mah, masa, nah, nih, tuh, sih, ya, yah, yuk.

*) Reference: Colloquial Jakartan Indonesian by James Neil Sneddon, 2006

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