Unit 5

Subject prominence in English

and –nya in Indonesian



English is a subject prominent language. It means every sentence in English always requires a subject. The subject can be a proper name, pronoun or something else. Yet in Indonesian, the subject may be omitted. This phenomenon can be mentioned as Zero subject sentence. The subject is coverable from the context


Indonesian                                            English

Tinggalnya dimana sekarang?                  Where do you stay now?

Pekerjaannya apa?                                  What do you do for living?

Butuhnya apa dariku?                             What do you need from me?

Uangnya berapa?                                     How much money do you have? 


In the sentence Tinggalnya di mana?, we do not find a subject since the subject needs not to be put there. Yet, this sentence still be understood by Indonesian people. Here zero subjects play role, and it is coverable from the context. In the sentence Where do you stay now?, the subject is definite, and in this case the subject is “you”.


Terms of Address

In Indonesia, The term of address is used to differentiate positions of people. It is also used to show politeness in conversation. To address someone who is older than us, we must use the proper address, e.g Bapak, Ibu, Panjennengan. In English, those terms are not used. English only addresses “You” to all of their interlocutors.

Indonesian                                      English

Anda                        sudah makan?       Have you had your dinner?

Bapak/Ibu                                            Are you hungry?

Pak Roni/Bu Dewi


Heri/Puspita                 lapar?


  Code Switching and Code Mixing

The next discussion in this topic lies in the term of Code Switching and Code mixing that occurs in Indonesian and English spoken community. The existence of these two phenomena is familiar in daily conversations conducted among them. Many Code switching and code mixing’s events occur both in Indonesian people conversation and English spoken community. Here, Code-switching refers the use of two languages simultaneously or interchangeably (Valdes-Fallis, 1977). Chana (1984) describes code-switching as the juxtaposition within the same speech exchange of passages of speech belonging to two different grammatical systems or subsystems. Code mixing on the other hand can be defined as the involvement of the deliberate mixing of two languages without an associated topic change. The example given by Pfaff (1979) demonstrates this event, a code mixing phenomenon between English and Spanish language.

*I went to the house Chiquita

I went to the little house (Pfaff, 1979)

In this session, we are going to talk shortly about Code mixing phenomenon that occurs in Indonesian. Below, you will find clear examples of code mixing in a conversation between two Javanese;
A: Mana Pak Wendi Lim, kok belum datang?

B: Wah, dalem mboten ngertos, Pak

A: Lho, kemarin kan kamu saya suruh menyampaikan nota saya ke kantornya.

B: Waktu saya sowan ke sana, beliau tidak ada. Sedang tindakan ke Madiun, kata  Mbak Nunung   Sekretarisnya.

A: Mbak Nunung bilang apa?

B: Mungkin sore atau malam hari Pak Wendi baru pulang dari Madiun. Lalu bilang,“Notanya ditinggal di sini saja. Kalau Bapak rawuh, nanti saya haturkan” (Kadarisman, 2002:5).


  Gender versus Kinship Orientation

The idea of gender orientation in English is commonly used in the form of pronoun, both subject and object. It may appear as he, she, him or her. More than that, the gender orientation is also used to differentiate subjects in a sentence. There are many terms to differentiate subject. One is used to differentiate siblings. We find the words “brother” and “sister” is aimed to differentiate male and female siblings, or son or daughter to differentiate male and female child. In Indonesian the term of gender orientation is not well known. When we talk about a child, we commonly say anak without referring what sex the child has. English will say a boy or a girl instead of a child. In this case we can say that English is a strongly gender oriented language. Below you will find example for that:


Indonesian                                                      English

Kemana dia pergi?                                            Where does he go?

Where does she go?

Buku itu milik dia                                              The book belongs to her

The book belongs to him

Anak itu bermain di lapangan           The boy plays on the playground

The girl plays on the playground


In Indonesian language, the ideas of kinship are very popular. These ideas play basic role in conducting a conversation. It seems the cultural background may support these Ideas. The cultural bound of Indonesian people create a close and respectful relationship with others. Someone who is close to us will be treated differently with someone who has no relative connection. The differentiation of address may be the realization for that.


Indonesian                                          English           

Nak Deni         mau kemana     ?                      Where are you going?

Mas Deni

Pak Deni

Saudara Deni

Om Deni


Concluding Remarks

The paper starts by making a brief explanation about Contrastive analysis. Then it continuous further by giving many examples of differences and similarities between two languages, Indonesian and English. This contrastive analysis may not provide a very significant role to scholars, yet in certain case, it helps much to L2 learner or to teachers of English language to give them a clear picture about the differences and the similarities lie between two languages.

Thu, 12 Sep 2013 @09:08

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