12 May 2014


When words get borrowed into Malay, final consonant clusters are nearly always simplified. For example, note the missing final /t/ in: lif, kos, pos, hos, arkitek, and the missing final /p/ from kem and setem.

However, even though native Malay has no initial clusters, they are not seen as so problematic, especially if the second sound is /r/. For example, the following words are all listed in my dictionary, and they all start with /tr/: tradisi, trafik, tragedi, traktor, transformasi, trofi, troli, trombon, trompet, tropika. Indeed, their meaning in English is usually immediately apparent.

But what about trengkas ('shorthand')? It must come from English (I assume). But what is the origin of the word?