[GIL] Monosyllables in Malay/Indonesian

Monosyllables in Malay/Indonesian: A Tale of Two Ludlings

David Gil

(reviewers: Nina Topintzi)

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Abstract: In Malay/Indonesian, most of the lexicon is disyllabic; however, there is also a smaller number of words that are monosyllabic. This paper argues that most of these apparently monosyllabic words occupy a single syllabic position of a disyllabic Core Foot, thereby leaving the remaining syllabic position empty. Evidence for such an empty syllabic position is provided by two different ludlings, or language games, in two distinct dialects of Malay/Indonesian: Riau Indonesian and Papuan Malay. However, the two ludlings show that the structure of monosyllabic forms differs from one dialect to the other. Whereas the Riau Indonesian ludling suggests that monosyllables occupy the second syllabic position of the foot leaving the first position empty, the Papuan Malay ludling points towards a mirror-image structure whereby monosyllables occupy the first syllabic position of the foot leaving the second position empty. This paper argues that such mirror-image structures are a consequence of certain other differences in the phonological profiles of the two Malay/Indonesian dialects, reflected also in their different stress assignment rules: final in Riau Indonesian, mostly penultimate in Papuan Malay.

Gil, David. 2022. “Monosyllables in Malay/Indonesian: A Tale of Two Ludlings”. Radical: A Journal of Phonology, 4, 45-100.