21 October 2009


In my blog of 29 September, I discussed the neutralisation of /i,e/ and also /u,o/ in closed final syllables in Malay (i.e. syllables with a final consonant), which is why kampung and kampong are alternative spellings for the Malay word for 'village'.

It seems, though, that /r/ does not count as a final consonant for this rule, so telur ('egg') is not the same as telor ('accent').

The distinction between 'u' and 'o' is not always maintained in writing in Brunei, however, as it gets influenced by the three-vowel system of Brunei Malay: /i, a, u/.

On page 2 of the Media Permata of 20 October 2009, I found mention of telor masin ('salty accent' ???). I guess local readers would not be confused by this, as they would immediately read it as telur masin ('salty eggs'). But it is rather confusing for a learner like me.

In fact, there are rather a lot of unexpected words in this newspaper. On the same page, there is mention of Persingan Global, and it took me a while to figure out that Persingan is a typo for Persaingan ('competition'). Trying to learn Malay in Brunei really can be frustrating at times!