12 February 2012


Here is a sign along the trail in Bukit Shahbandar which Adrian Clynes reckons is ungrammatical.The Malay reads munuju keluar ('towards exit'); but he notes that keluar is really ke + luar ('to outside'), so it is underlyingly a prepositional phrase, and the sign is literally 'towards to outside'.

But is keluar really a prepositional phrase? Maybe it has been used so often to mean 'exit' that it has undergone conversion (partly under the influence of English), and now it can also be regarded as a noun. If that is the case, then perhaps menuju keluar is fine.


  1. Maybe I was a bit hasty David, alias just wrong. Googling "menuju keluar" (with quotation marks) brings up 87,400 results. And "menuju ke" brings up 21,000,000.

  2. But keluar is not a noun, still a PP. It can't be used unambiguously as a noun, eg. *!ada dua keluar. It's just that menuju can be optionally followed by ke. Menuju (ke) kota, and so on. The noun is luar. Writing keluar as a single word uses the old spelling system, where di and ke were written as though they were prefixes.

  3. I don't know about brunei-malay, but in Indonesia there are 'keluar' and 'ke luar'. They seem similar but they're not. Keluar is a noun, which means exit. While ke luar is a prepotional phrase. The difference between the two can only be seen in writing, whether the 'ke' is attached to 'luar' or not. I think in the case of that sign, it's meant as a noun because the 'ke' and 'luar' are attached together. If the 'ke' and 'luar' are separate, then the sign is gramatically incorrect, but because they are not i think it's correct.

    Prepotional phrases in Indonesian always separate the preposition and the adverb(?). So the correct form of prepotional phrase would be, for example: ke dalam, ke luar, di sana, di situ, and not kedalam, keluar, disana and so on.

    But, again, this is in Indonesian. I don't know whether the same rule is used in Brunei or not.