[Humanist] 22.628 lowercase man (learning Indonesian)

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Mar 18 07:09:31 CET 2009

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 22, No. 628.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Tue, 17 Mar 2009 08:24:35 -0700
        From: Martin Holmes <mholmes at uvic.ca>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist]  22.623 lowercase man
        In-Reply-To: <20090317062941.27BBE2E86A at woodward.joyent.us>

HI Willard,

Humanist Discussion Group wrote:
> As you may recall, I worked for many years on an Indonesian language, 
> and nowadays all Indonesian languages are written in the Roman alphabet. 
> Some of them, including my own language, Batak, used to use their own 
> scripts, but these have been abandoned. In those earlier native scripts 
> it was customary to use the number 2 to indicate doubling. So if you had 
> a word like tulangtulang you would write tulang2.

When I was first learning Indonesian, I was instinctively suspicious of 
this use of "2", and figured it must be a rather lazy habit that I 
should avoid in the interests of formal correctness. One day I found 
myself writing:


(the plural of "responsibility), and I finally realized how silly this 
was, and went for pertanggungjawaban2 instead. When your language has 
such rampant affixation and compounding, and doubling is your 
pluralizing strategy, you'd better come up with something like this or 
you'll be wasting a lot of ink and time.

But you can still find "pertanggungjawaban-pertanggungjawaban" in the 
wild on the Web: 

mostly in PDFs and DOC files, interestingly, and rarely in actual HTML 

I seem to remember the 2 was often superscripted when I was in Indonesia 
(in the late 80s), but on the Web it doesn't seem to be so.


Martin Holmes
University of Victoria Humanities Computing and Media Centre
(mholmes at uvic.ca)
Half-Baked Software, Inc.
(mholmes at halfbakedsoftware.com)
martin at mholmes.com

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