Prefix Variation

In formal Indonesian transitive verbs in active voice take prefix meN-, where N symbolises a nasal which assimilates to the first sound of the verb base. With some base-initial sounds N is lost.

There are some circumstances when no prefix occurs in active voice, such as in certain imperative constructions. Some intransitive verbs also take this prefix. Both transitive and intransitive verbs are considered together here.

In Colloquial Jakartan Indonesian the situation is more complex, with four possibilities:
(i) prefix meN- may occur,as in formal Indonesian,
(ii) the me- component of the prefix may be lost, leaving only N-,
(iii) prefix nge- may occur, (iv) there may be no prefix.Occurrence of meN-
is rare in conversations but increases in frequency as the situation becomes more formal.

Prefix N- occurs alone with bases which begin with p, t, s, and k. N- assimilates to theplace of articulation of the first consonant of the base, which is then lost, according to thesame rules as in FI. This process can be called nasal replacement.

For more information or articles about colloquial, colloquial Indonesian, colloquial Jakartan Indonesian by Dr. Timothy Hassall from ANU, Canberra, Australia, click here.

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