Reciprocality in Papuan Malay

Yusuf Sawaki


Reciprocality, also known as reciprocal situation or reciprocal constructions, constitutes an expression which describes both the forms and meaning of an activity embodying a mutual relation. Papuan Malay, a pidginized lingua franca in Western New Guinea, has three types of constructions expressing reciprocality: lexical reciprocals, prototypical syntactic reciprocals with the baku construction, and syntactic reciprocals with the discontinuous satu...satu construction. Some additional constructions are considered to be reciprocal-like. These reciprocal constructions vary in their argument structure and valence operations. In argument structure, most constructions allow two kinds of argument structure: Type 1, which takes only a subject argument, and Type 2, which takes both a subject and object, and follows the basic SVO word order. However, the object in the Type 2 construction becomes oblique-like, indicating reduced transitivity in order to accommodate the concept of mutual relation. In valence operations, reciprocals can undergo both valence decreasing and valence increasing operations. In addition, some reciprocal constructions require subject and object to be syntactically retained, even though semantically they represent the same agent-patient/goal mutual relation.


Reciprocality; mutual relation; argument structure; valence operations; Papuan Malay

Full Text:



Asudeh, Ash. 1998. “Anaphora and argument structure; Topics in the syntax and semantics of reflexives and reciprocals”. MPhil thesis, University of Edinburgh.

Conroy, John. 2013. “The informal economy in Monsoon Asia and Melanesia; West New Guinea and the Malay world”, Crawford School Working Paper Vol. 13-04. Canberra: Australian National University. [Retrievable:]

Donohue, Mark. 2011. “Papuan Malay of New Guinea; Melanesian influence on verb and clause structure”, in: Claire Lefebvre (ed.), Creoles, their substrates, and language typology, pp. 413-435. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Donohue, Mark and Yusuf Sawaki. 2007. “Papuan Malay pronominals; Forms and functions”, Oceanic Linguistics 46(1): 253-276.

Evans, Nicholas. 2006. “Complex events, propositional overlay, and the special status of reciprocal clauses”, in: Sally Rice and John Newman (eds), Empirical and experimental methods in cognitive/functional research. Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications.

Evans, Nicholas. 2008. “Reciprocal constructions; Towards a structural typology”, in: Ekkehard König and Voker Gast (eds), Reciprocals and reflexives; Theoretical and typological explorations, pp. 33-104. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Evans, Nicholas, Alice Gaby, Stephen C. Levinson, and Asifa Majib (eds). 2011. Reciprocals and semantic typology. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Gau, Sukardi. 2011. “Menjejaki bahasa Melayu Maluku di Papua; Kerangka pengenalan”, Jurnal Elektronik Jabatan Bahasa dan Kebudayaan Melayu Jilid 3: 21-40.

Haga, Antonie. 1884. Nederlandsch Nieuw Guinea en de Papoesche Eilanden; Historiche bijdrage, ±1500-1883. Batavia: W. Bruining, ‘s-Hage: Martinus Nijhoff.

Haspelmath, Martin. 2007. “Further remarks on reciprocal constructions”, in: Vladimir P. Nedjalkov (ed.), Reciprocal constructions, pp. 2087-2115. 5 vols. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Hurst, Peter. 2006. The syntax of the Malagasy reciprocal construction; An LFG account. Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications.

Kluge, Angela. 2014. A grammar of Papuan Malay. PhD thesis, Leiden University. [LOT Dissertation Series.]

König, Ekkehard and Voker Gast (eds). 2008. “Reciprocality and reflexivity – description, typology, and theory”, in: Ekkehard König and Voker Gast (eds), Reciprocals and reflexives; Theoretical and typological explorations, pp. 1-32. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Litamahuputty, B.H.J. 2012. Ternate Malay; Grammar and texts. PhD thesis, Leiden University. [LOT Dissertation Series.]

Minde, Don van. 1997. Malayu Ambong; Phonology, moprhology, syntax. Leiden: Research School CNWS.

Nedjalkov, Vladimir (ed.). 2007. Typology of reciprocal constructions. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Nordlinger, Rachel. 2008. “Reciprocals in Murrinh-Patha”. [University of Melbourne.]

Paauw, Scott H. 2008. The Malay contact varieties of Eastern Indonesia; A typological comparison. PhD thesis, The State University of New York, Buffalo.

Prentice, David J. 1994. “Manado Malay; Product and agent of language change”, in: Thomas E. Dutton and Darrell T. Tryon (eds), Language contact and change in the Austronesian world (Trends in Linguistics; Studies and Monographs 77), pp. 411-441. Berlin/New York, NY: Mouton de Gruyter.

Rutherford, Danilyn. 2005. “Frontiers of the lingua franca; Ideologies of the linguistic contact zone in Dutch New Guinea”, Ethnos Vol. 70. No. 3: 387-412. [Retrieved from:; last accessed on 18-12-2013.]

Sawaki, Yusuf. 2016. A grammar of Wooi, an Austronesian language of Yapen Island, Western New Guinea. PhD thesis, Australian National University, Canberra.

Sawaki, Yusuf and Sara Karubaba. 2012. “Where do person/number marking and inclusory pronominals in Papuan Malay come from?”. [Paper, The Twelfth ICAL 2012, Denpasar, 2-6 July.]

Seiler, W. 1983. The lost Malay language of Papua New Guinea. Canberra: Australian National University.

Stark, Ken and Kyle Latinis. 1996. “The response of early Ambonese foragers tot he Maluku spice trade; The archaeological evidence”, Cakalele Vol. 7: 51-67.

Steinhauer, Hein. 1983. Notes on the Malay of Kupang (Timor). Leiden: University of Leiden.

Velzen, Paul van. 1995. “Some notes on the variety of Malay used in Serui and vicinity”, in: Connie Baak, Mary Bakker, and Dick van der Meij (eds), Tales from a concave world; Liber amicorum Bert Voorhoeve, pp. 311-343. Leiden: Department of Languages and Cultures of Southeast Asia and Oceania, Leiden University.

Wantalangi, Maxi. 1993. “The Menadonese grammar”. MA thesis, La Trobe University, Bundoora.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Free counters!

View My Stats