12 March 2011


There is an organisation in Brunei called Katakijau that seems to be engaged in various environmental activities.

When I first heard it mentioned on the radio, and then I saw the name discussed in the newspaper, I tried to work out what it means, assuming it was kata ('word') + kijau (??). But then I could not work out what kijau might mean.

Even when I saw their logo on the Internet, it didn't twig that it was katak ('frog') + (h)ijau ('green') until a colleague explained it to me.

It was the missing 'h' that caught me out. But an absent 'h' at the start of a word is fairly common in Brunei Malay. For example, the following all have an initial 'h' in Standard Malay but none in Brunei Malay:
  • (h)ari ('day')
  • (h)itam ('black')
  • (h)ujan ('rain')
I should also have thought of orangutan, which is orang ('man') + (h)utan ('forest'), which similarly has a missing 'h' at the start of the second morpheme.