Indonesian discourse particles in conversations and written text

David-M. Karàj


The aim of the present article is to analyse the four most frequent Colloquial Indonesian discourse particles (lho, kok, sih, and dong) and to compare their occurrences in both spontaneous spoken conversations and written texts (articles from an online youth magazine). The latter method is uncommon, as most studies on Indonesian discourse particles focus exclusively on spoken data. My motivation for choosing the term “discourse particles” (instead of, for example, pragmatic particles) is explained and a new language-specific definition of the phenomenon is proposed. First, the particles’ meanings as given in various dictionaries are presented, followed by examples from spontaneous conversations. Next, examples from written texts are given, followed by an analysis of possible differences and similarities in meaning. Finally, the possible meanings of the particles are exemplified through sample sentences using semantic explication. By conclusion, I attempt to answer the question of whether the discourse particles in Colloquial Indonesian can be considered as a separate word class.


discourse particles; Colloquial Indonesian; spoken language

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