20 February 2012


A common way of creating new words is by blending, which involves using the start of one word and the end of another. So, for example, in English we find:
  • smog (from smoke + fog)
  • motel (from motor + hotel)
  • infotainment (from information + entertainment)
What about Malay? Are there blends in Malay?

One of my first-year students suggested cerpen ('short story') (from cerita 'story' + pendek 'short'). The only difference is that this is the start of one word plus the start of another word, rather than the start of one and the end of the other.

My UBD colleague, James McLellan, tells me that similar blends are very common in Indonesia, with, for example, menlu ('foreign minister') (from menteri 'minister' + luar 'outside'). Note that this is also the start of one word and the start of another, just like with cerpen.

I have two questions: Is using the start of both words the usual pattern in Malay? And is the process more common in Indonesia than in Brunei and Malaysia?


  1. There's no doubt that blending is one of the interactive ways to say some or certain words.

    Taking your questions into account, first I think it really is common to cut the words into half, take the first initials, and stitch them together to make sense (of the newly formed word(s) ). For example, in Malay language we have "obosom", which is actually 'Orang BOdoh SOMbong'.

    I'm not sure how this one should justify my point above, but "mencapub" might tag along as well, as it's actually 'MENCAri PUblisiti' (attention seeking).

    I can't really answer your second question as I don't know much about the words and culture in Brunei and Indonesia. However, I think we're on par.

  2. Blending words is pretty common in Indonesia, especially among government officials or the army. There are many examples such as 'mendagri' (MENteri DAlam neGeRI - secretary of state), 'keppres' (KEPutusan PRESiden - executive order), and so on. Usually they start with the start of each word, although not all the time. Probably it depends whether it feels comfortable pronouncing the word or not.

    I think it's safe to say that this is a common habit in malay culture: Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.