21 January 2014


I always find it interesting when a word in one language has a broader meaning than its equivalent in another language, something that can cause problems for translation. For example, the Malay tikus can be either 'rat' or 'mouse' in English. We can say that Malay has a superordinate term (with a broader meaning), while English has two hyponyms (with narrower meanings).

This cross-linguistic comparison of superodinate/hyponyms can also apply to verbs. I had always understood lemas to mean 'drown'. But I just read an article in Media Permata about an 87-year-old man who was lemas when he was caught in a fire at his house, and it was then that I realised that lemas could mean 'suffocate' as well as 'drown'.