29 June 2011
Borrowing the Malay plural system
"Romou-romou matoku lumuyung id pingasku
aiso pinoborosku, aiso tiso pinikianu ku"
(tears of my eyes, running down my cheeks, I had nothing to say, I didn't ask for a single thing)
"tusak-tusak do piginawaan
owongi oh koungkaladon"
(the flowers of love, they unfold with sweet fragrance)
These two excerpts are from two lovely Kadazandusun (KD) songs. And they are living examples of a growing phenomenon in the use of the KD plural; that is borrowing the system from Malay. It's hardly surprising, since Malay is the dominant language, and the younger generation can't help but become hybrid in their use of languages.
In Malay, plural words are mostly formed by full reduplication. Anak-anak, (children) barang-barang (things) etc. In the KD dialects that I know of (and I think I've heard quite a few although I do not claim to know all dialects), plural is indicated by the prefix 0ngo- (also realized as anga-) as in tangaanak (children), ongodungau (cats). Sometimes ongo-/anga- is used with t- in the front as in tangaanak.
Some people told me that there are instances of words that are fully reduplicated in KD like tanak-tanak (child) and tasu-tasu (dog). But based on my experience, this type of reduplication doesn't indicate plural. It is something else...something that people say when they want to downplay the importance of something, or when they want to be humble about something.
But, supposed there are really plural forms indicated by full-reduplication, I wonder which KD dialects would have that?