04 May 2010


Malay seems to favour repetition, something I have mentioned before (here), where I suggested it may be a rhetorical device to achieve emphasis.

On page 1 of the Media Permata of 4 May 2010, I saw this:
... e-mail yang dihantar itu adalah palsu dan tidak benar.
which might be literally translated as "the email that was sent is false and not true". Surely false and not true mean exactly the same thing!

In the English written by people in Brunei, we similarly often see this kind of repetition. For example, a student recently sent me the draft of a research proposal where she plans to "compare and contrast" different styles of speech, even though the meaning of compare and contrast is almost identical.

In writing English, it is best to find some other way to achieve emphasis. Maybe in the "email" example above, a good translation into English might be "the email that was sent is definitely false".

However, in the "compare and contrast" example, there seems little need to emphasise the issue, so it might be better to use one of the words on its own.