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Reviewed by:
  • Focus in Manado Malay: Grammar, particles, and intonation
  • Anastasia K. Riehl
Ruben Stoel. 2005. Focus in Manado Malay: Grammar, particles, and intonation. Leiden: CNWS Publications. 281 pp. ISBN: 90-5789-101-8. €27.60, paper.

Manado Malay is a language spoken primarily in the Indonesian province of North Sulawesi, deriving its name from the provincial capital of Manado. Developed from a variety of Malay that originated in the Moluccas hundreds of years ago as a language of trade (Adelaar and Prentice 1996), today Manado Malay is spoken as a first language by most residents in the urban centers of Manado and Bitung and throughout much of the Minahasan region. It is also widely spoken as a second language in the Sangir-Talaud and Bolaang Mongondow regions, as well as the neighboring province of Gorontalo, and thus serves as the lingua franca for a large area, encompassing perhaps as many as two million first-and second-language speakers. Despite the large population of speakers and long-held importance of the language in the region, there has been relatively little work on the grammar of Manado Malay (see references in Collins 1996). As with many Malay varieties of Indonesia, when Manado Malay is discussed it is usually referenced in relation to standard Indonesian—the language used by the government, educational system, and media—and not examined in its own right. Stoel’s book Focus in Manado Malay: Grammar, particles, and intonation marks a departure from this approach, with a detailed synchronic study of Manado Malay that represents the most comprehensive research on the language’s grammar to date. While the primary topic of the book is focus, approximately half of the text is devoted to a general study of the grammar, making it an important contribution to the description of the language and of value to audiences beyond those with a particular interest in focus.

The book is organized into two parts, each with fairly self-contained chapters. Following a brief introduction (chapter 1), the first half of the book is a description of the grammar, with an overview of the phonology, morphology, and syntax (chapter 2), discourse particles (chapter 3), and intonation (chapter 4). The data referenced in these chapters is from a corpus of 23 dialogues recorded by Stoel (totaling 2 1/2 hours, 24,000 words) during fieldtrips to Minahasa in 1998 and 2000. The second half of the book is devoted to the study of focus, with a discussion of focus and word order (chapter 5), focus and discourse particles (chapter 6), and focus and intonation (chapter 7), ending with brief conclusions (chapter 8). The data in these chapters come from a series of experiments conducted by Stoel, with each chapter centered around the results of several studies designed to explore the given topic. Below, I summarize and evaluate each of the content chapters (2–7) in turn.

Following a brief discussion of the history of Manado Malay and a review of previous literature, chapter 2 includes descriptions of the phonology, morphology, and syntax of the language. Before the publication of this book, the most comprehensive grammatical [End Page 460] description was by Prentice (1994), and Stoel frequently cites points of agreement/disagreement with Prentice’s analyses in this chapter. The section on phonology is quite brief. Stoel’s analysis of the phonemic inventory, however, is an important contribution. Past phonological sketches (e.g., Lalamentik 1984, Salea-Warouw 1985, Prentice 1994) have posited various additional sounds as phonemes that upon further analysis appear to be allophones or dialectal variants, and my own studies of the language (e.g., Riehl 2008) have led me to the same conclusions as Stoel. The section on stress, important to the later discussion of intonation, is inconclusive. Stoel claims that the language has lexical stress with a predictable penultimate pattern but a number of exceptional final-stress forms. Attempts to unify the exceptional cases are unsuccessful, however, and a number of words with variable (penultimate vs. final) stress complicate the picture. While my own studies reveal great consistency in the pronunciation of the exceptional final-stress forms across speakers, I also find a great deal of variation in the location of...


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