30 October 2012


I recently saw the word kesalingbolehtukaran ('interchangeability') in a newspaper article discussing the currencies of Brunei and Singapore. With 20 letters, it is the longest word of Malay I have ever come across.

It consists of the nominalising circumflex ke− + −an around a compound root with three parts: saling ('inter') + boleh ('can') + tukar ('exchange').

While two-part compounds are common in Malay, such as matahari ('sun') from mata ('eye') + hari ('day'), and kakitangan ('staff') from kaki ('foot') + tangan ('hand'), three-part compounds are not so common.

I wonder if there are any longer Malay words in common usage?