21 March 2011


Obviously, the Malay word psikologi is a borrowing from the English word psychology. But how should it be pronounced?

Colleagues at UBD have confirmed that there are three variables: whether there is an initial /p/ or not; whether the vowel in the first syllable is /ai/ (following the English) or /i/ (following the spelling); and whether the final consonant is /dʒ/ (as in the English) or /g/ (as suggested by the spelling).

The first of these surprised me. I assumed that the initial would be just /s/, as /ps/ would never be possible in at the start of a word in Malay (or, indeed, in English). But apparently, /pisikologi/ is possible, with an inserted vowel between the /p/ and the /s/.

In the recording accompanying my Malay textbook, the speaker says /saikologi/, which seems a bit unexpected as it is using the English vowel for the first syllable but following the spelling for the final consonant. I don't know how common this kind of mixture is.