This paper examines the assumption that the function of compound prepositions in Indonesian (e.g., di atas 'on top of', ke dalam 'into') is to add specificity. It is argued that, although compounds indeed serve this semantic function, they are not limited to it. Based on a study of a corpus of spoken and written Indonesian, it is shown that in many instances compounds do not add any semantic information other than what is expressible by their simple form counterparts. Compounds may be used simply to render explicit what is inferable from general knowledge. It is further argued that compounds are a marked category. Their distribution tends to be correlated with medium and type of discourse. In addition, as the more explicit or marked member of the simple/compound opposition, compounds serve a similar anaphoric function to full NPs. They can be considered as nonnominal markers that track locations and serve a number of other discourse functions, which include confirming a previously mentioned location, adding an affective dimension to an utterance, and marking discourse transitions. Compounds are therefore claimed to be multifunctional; and while in some instances either the semantic or pragmatic function predominates, in other instances both functions interact to produce the desired interpretation.