In my previous posting, I discussed the vowel in the third syllable of kebersehan. In fact, use of 'e' or 'i' in the closed final syllable of a Malay root is arbitrary; nowadays, standard spelling specifies 'i', but in the past it was often 'e'. And the 1949 edition of The Prinicples of the International Phonetic Association shows lebih ('more') as [ləbeh] for its Malay trasncription of the North Wind and the Sun passage, suggesting the vowel in the second syllable to be quite open.
Similarly for the back vowel, 'o' or 'u' in closed final syllables. That is why we have the modern spelling kampung, but traditionally it was kampong. And the same applies to place names: we have Jurong in Singapore and Jerudong and Tutong in Brunei, but all of these would have a 'u' in the final syllable if modern spelling were used.
The language impact of the Confucius Institutes
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