More vocabulary building
|From:||Roger Mills <romilly@...>|
|Date:||Saturday, May 19, 2001, 23:36|
This came to me from a colleague on the Austronesian List, and seems worth
passing along. I was aware of the process, but don't think I've yet
introduced it into Kash........As you see in the last paragraph, it can be
...A strong case could be made that neologizing through the creation of
"portmanteau" blends is a long-standing feature in many AN (or at least WMP)
languages. The language I work on, Sundanese, is rife with such blends--
I've collected dozens of examples (usually formed by combining
root-morpheme-final syllables). Interestingly, like Tagalog, many of the
best-known examples are food terms:
cilok = aci dicolok 'skewered tapioca'
ciréng = aci digoréng 'fried tapioca'
colénak = dicocolkeun, énak 'dipped, it's delicious' (fermented cassava in
palm sugar syrup)
comro = oncom di jero 'fermented peanut cake inside' (fried cassava filled
with spiced oncom)
misro = amis di jero 'something sweet inside' (fried cassava filled with
sukro = suuk di jero 'peanut inside' (peanut in wheat flour)
This same neologizing process is used to create more humorous words, some of
which have become well-established enough to be cited in Sundanese
kérsut = geus nékér, sut disundut 'once lit, goes up in flames' (palm-leaf
rib used as kindling)
pongah = ompong di tengah 'missing a front tooth'
tongpés = kantong kempés 'empty pocket' (flat broke)
tunji = sataun hiji 'one per year' (said of parents who have one child a
A similar formation is created by compounding two so-called "verbal
anticipators," iconically representing a sequence of two actions occurring
in rapid succession:
dugker = ari dug ngedeng, ari ker baé kérék 'lie down, start snoring'
géksor = ari gék diuk, ari sor disuguhkeun 'sit down, get served'
gungclo = ari gung goong disada, ari clo diuk 'the gong sounds, sit right
down' (said of a child who loves to watch wayang)
rasclok = ari ras inget, ari clok geus aya di dinya 'think of someone,
presto he appears' ("speak of the devil"; magical summoning)
A related phenomenon in Sundanese is the creation of pseudo-blends known as
"kirata," in which a pre-existing word is treated as a portmanteau in order
to provide an often humorous gloss. This type of recomposition can be found
in many Indonesian languages. In the run-up to the fall of Suharto,
Indonesian student activists parodied the government's penchant for
bureaucratic acronymy by reanalyzing many New Order names as pseudo-blends,
e.g. Suharto = sudah harus tobat 'should have repented', Habibie = hari-hari
bikin bingung 'confuses daily', Harmoko = hari-hari omong kosong 'bullshits
daily', etc. Last year, and no doubt this year too, Gus Dur (the nickname
for Abdurrahman Wahid) was reanalyzed by those expecting him not to survive
the annual parliamentary session as: Agustus mundur 'steps down in August.'
Surely there must have been similar wordplay in Tagalog deployed recently
against Estrada et al?