Malay Language Lessons Malay Grammar: Penjodoh Bilangan Part Ii How To Use Classifiers?

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Thursday 15th of March 2007 08:23:40 AM
Malay Grammar: Penjodoh Bilangan Part II: Hello everybody,
As a learner in Malay language, classifiers are a little bit tricky. Here I would like to talk about this grammar aspect. Danial, thank you for helping me to do this topic.

You have learned the system number used in the Malay language. Danial already gave you some explanations regarding the classifiers (Penjodoh Bilangan). Here is additional information for you.
When counting any object in a sentence, you must use what we call a classifier. This is what we learn now.
What is a classifier? It is quite simple. It allows you to precise the type of object you are counting: it is similar to a unit. In English it could correspond to, for instance, the word “stick” in one stick of wood.

Dua orang? murid
Dua puluh ekor ikan = twenty fishes.

In these two examples, orang is used to count people and ekor is used to count animals, birds, fishes, insects, etc.

Notice that the classifier is always followed by the noun.
The correct order is: Number + classifier + noun

In Malay language, the main classifiers used are:
Orang used to count people
Ekor used to count animals
Batang to count rod-like objects such as cigarettes, pens, pencils, etc. It applies to things that are long as well.
Buah to count large or cubical (in appearance) objects such as countries, buildings, rivers, ships, vehicles, furniture, rooms, islands, computers, books, etc.
Biji to count spherical objects such as cups, fruits, eggs, eyes, etc.
Helai to count flat and thin objects such as paper, clothing, leaves, etc.
Pucuk to count firearms, letters, and needles. It applies to a letter
Bilah to count bladed objects such as knives, weapons, axe, etc.
Keping to count flat thick objects such as planks, biscuits, etc. Actually this is the English equivalent of ‘piece’, e.g, sekeping kek, dua keping kepuk ayam)
Ketul to count hard and objects with irregular shape such as pebbles, meat, etc. It also applies to and things that are lumped up, such as soap.
Bentuk to count finger-rings and fishing-hooks.
Buku to count loaves of bread.
Kuntum to count individual flowers.
Pintu to count shop-houses or terrace houses.
Rawan to count fishing-nets

Now look at the different examples for each classifier.

Orang > Sepuluh orang pemandu (Ten drivers)
Ekor > Lima ekor anjing(Five dogs)
Batang > Tiga puluh lima batang pena
Buah > Dua buah pulau(Two islands)
Sepuluh buah rumah(Ten houses)
Biji > Lapan biji pisang(Eight bananas)
Sembilan biji cawan (Nine cups)
Helai > Empat helai kemeja(Four shirts)
Dua helai sapu tangan(Two handkerchiefs)
Pucuk > Enam pucuk surat(Six letters)
Tiga puluh dua pucuk jarum(Thirty two needles)
Bilah > Lima bilah pisau(Five knives)
Sebilah pedang(One sword)
Keping > Lima puluh tujuh keping papan(Fifty seven planks)
Ketul > Dua ketul daging(Two pieces of meat)
Bentuk > Dua bentuk cincin(Two rings)
Buku > Lima buku roti(Five loaves of bread)
Kuntum > Tujuh kuntum tulip (Seven tulips)
Pintu > Sepuluh pintu rumah kedai (Ten shop-houses)
Rawan > Empat rawan jala(Four casting nets)

Notice that the word “satu” is contracted to “se-” and attached to the classifier, the same way as you learnt when you count.

Thursday 15th of March 2007 08:54:35 AM
Now let's practice with this first exercise.

Try to translate these following expressions in Malay language by using the correct classifier.

Hundred pupils
Twenty three ducks
Ten pencils
Eighteen cars
Forty six apples
One axe
Seven shop-houses
One ring
Nine pieces of chicken
Six pants
Four loaves of bread
One letter

Saturday 17th of November 2007 09:05:48 PM
Since I was exactly searching for a place where I could ask a question regarding Malay measure words / classifiers, I guess it’s fair enough that I do this exercise first. :)

Hundred pupils - seratus orang murid
Twenty three ducks - dua puluh tiga ekor itik
Ten pencils - sepuluh batang pensel
Eighteen cars - lapan belas buah kereta
Forty six apples - empat puluh enam epal
One axe - sebilah kapak
Seven shop-houses - tujuh pintu kedai
One ring - sebentuk cincin
Nine pieces of chicken - sembilan ketul daging ayam
Six pants - enam helai seluar dalam (or enam pasang seluar dalam?)
Four loaves of bread - empat buku roti
One letter - sepucuk surat

Then, the question I wanted to ask. I was discussing penjodoh bilangan with an Indonesian friend (are you somewhere around here, Mark? :)) and used the following examples:

dua buah kereta
enam buah komputer
dua belas buah bandar

He, however, told me that he hardly ever says that, and that he’d rather say:

dua kereta
enam komputer
dua belas bandar

I was surprised, because I thought measure words in Malay were as necessary as they are in e.g. Japanese, Chinese, or Thai, so I asked him if there was any reason not to use them there, or any guidelines on when to use them and when not to, to which he answered that, in his opinion, most of the time it’d be safer for me not to use penjodoh bilangan. :(

Now I’m confused about the whole subject. Anything you people might tell me about it?

Saturday 17th of November 2007 09:26:16 PM
Hi Psi-Lord

Okay, well.

Your friend's right. During colloquial speech or daily speech, we tend to drop the penjodoh bilangan, especially when there are two or more objects.

Anyways, there is NO need to memorise all the different terms. Even a native wouldn't know it all. There are only like 1-5 terms that we use daily. Sometimes we don't use it at all.

I think the top common ones are: buah, ekor, biji, ketul and helai. (all related to kampung (village) stuff)

So, my suggestion is, if you're not sure how to use it, then it's better not to. :)

However, if you are writing in an exam or any formal situations, you must use them.

If you have any more questions or still confused, please ask! :)

Hope this helps,

Tuesday 20th of November 2007 11:27:40 AM
Terima kasih, Danial. :)

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