This morning, I was reading an article on page 7 of Media Permata of 8 May 2014, and I came across this extract:
telah menerima aduan daripada orang awam mengenai kedai-
fan keluarga itu yang memerlukan bantuan
which might be glossed as:
have received complaints from the public about the pover-
ty of this family which needs help
When I got to kedai- fan, I was confused, as kedai means 'shop', and then I wondered what fan might mean.
Of course, I was mis-parsing it, as kedaifan means 'poverty', and it consists of daif ('poor') with the ke+an circumfix to convert an adjective into a noun. I would have thought that it would have been better to hyphenate it as kedaif-an rather than kedai-fan.
Looking through other cases of hyphenation in the same article, I found:
- hu-kuman ('judgement')
- un-tuk ('for')
- penggu-naan ('use')
- ka-wasan ('region')
- se-lain ('other')
- men-genalpasti ('identify')
- tem-pat ('place')
The rule seems to be that a hyphen always occurs before a consonant. If there are two consonants, then the hyphen occurs between them; but if there is just one consonant, then the hyphen is inserted before it.
Now, this makes sense from a phonological perspective, where a single medial consonant tends to belong with the following syllable rather than the preceding one, as we prefer consonants to be in the onset of a syllable rather than its coda. But I still think that maintaining the morphological integrity of a word should sometimes be allowed to override this placement of a hyphen before a single consonant.