Since both Indonesian and English get much influenced by the Latin writing system (Haldeman, 2005), both share similarities in some word formation processes.  However, English has some different derivational processes from Indonesian (see Table 1). Latin system in Malay was introduced by Pigafetta (Fachry, 2012). Both English and Indonesian are composed of different parts of words: word base/root/stem. For example, the word ‘dog’ in English is a word base as in Indonesian ‘anjing.’ The formulation process of Indonesian and English words/word phrases undergoes affixation (Natalia & Wulandari, 2017; Kemmer, 2019) and compounding (Endarto, 2016; U.S. Government Publishing Office, 2008). Affixation in Indonesian and English could be categorized as inflection if the additional affix does not change the word base category, and derivation in both languages happens if the affix changes the word stem category. For example, ‘menghafal” which consists of the prefix meng- and word base ‘hafal’ still remains a verb despite the additional affix. In English, the word ‘cuts’ related to the third person singular verb does not change in meaning although -s suffix is added. Both English and Indonesian have zero conversion, words that do not change in form but have different categories and meanings. For example, the word ‘promise’ as a verb (‘sumpah’) still stays the same when it is indicated as ‘promise’ as a noun (‘sumpah’); in Indonesian, ‘jalan’ as a verb (walk) shows the same form when it refers to ‘jalan’ as a noun (road). 

Figure 1. English Morphology

Figure 2. Indonesian Morphology

Different from English, Indonesian has complete affixes (prefix, infix, suffix, and circumfix) (see Table 1), while English only has prefixes, suffixes, and circumfixes. For example, the word ‘pelatuk’ (woodpecker) has an infix -el- added to a word base of ‘patuk’ (peck). Meanwhile, English affixes only occur at the beginning, end of a word, or both. For example, the word ‘unacceptable’ has a circumfix with the prefix un- and suffix -able. Unlike English, Indonesian has a reduplication which means repeating words to suggest different meanings (Suta, 2017). For example, ‘rumah-rumah’ (houses) has a word base ‘rumah’ repeated to indicate plurality, while the word ‘house’ in English could be just added suffix -s to be plural. Indonesian also does not have a suppletion process in word formation, while English does. Suppletion in English occurs from singular words into plural words with changes in their forms (Delahunty & Garvey, 2010). For example, the word ‘child’ singular will be ‘children’ without any affixes for its plural form. While in Indonesian, ‘anak’ will be ‘anak-anak’ with reduplication.  

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  • Delahunty, G. P., & Garvey, J. J. (2010). The English Language: From Sound to Sense. The WAC Clearinghouse; Parlor Press.
  • Endarto, I. T. (2016). Construction of Noun Compounds in Indonesian. 3.
  • Haldeman, S. S. (2005). Affixes in their origin & application, exhibiting the etymologic structure of English words. By S.S. Haldeman…
  • Fachry. (2012). Badan Pendidikan dan Pelatihan Kemhan RI. Kementerian Pertahanan Republik Indonesia.
  • Kemmer, S. (2019). Words in English: Roots and Affixes.
  • Natalia, S., & Wulandari, T. R. (2017). Identifying Types Of Affixes In English And Bahasa Indonesia. 9(17), 15.
  • U.S. Government Publishing Office. (2008). U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual—Chapter 6—Compounding Rules.
  • Suta. (2017, October 9). Learn Indonesian Reduplication Words—Formula & Examples. MasteringBahasa.Com.
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