Bahasa Indonesia: How the subject and object are related to each other

Subject and Object Relationship is like tangled branches...
Subject and Object Relationship is like tangled branches…

One day, when I was teaching the concept of the word “meninggalkan” compared to “tinggal”, the student whom I taught, who learned philosophy in her graduate study, told me something that even for me as an Indonesian is unthinkable.

She said that some verbs in Indonesian language treat subjects and objects as two entities that are interrelated, immersed. The word “meninggalkan” is an example. For your information, the words “tinggal” and “meninggalkan” mean “to stay” and “to leave”, respectively. She further explained that the word “to stay” in English is absolutely unrelated to the word “to leave”, that English doesn’t show the relationship whatsoever, thus doesn’t demonstrate the relationship between the subjects with the objects.

This, however, is not the case with some Indonesian verbs. The word “tinggal”, which is an intransitive verb, tells you that the subject stays. So the sentence “saya tinggal di rumah teman” is translated into “I stay in my friend’s house.” On the other hand, the word “meninggalkan”, which is a transitive verb, gives you the information that the subject makes the object stay by leaving it, hence the sentence “I leave you here” is translated into “saya meninggalkan kamu di sini.”

As a matter of fact, some other verbs which are categorized as transitive verbs even shows a strong relationship between a subject and its indirect object by only adding a suffix. Even if we don’t mention the indirect object, it is implied that the action is for the benefit of others (grammatically known as indirect objects). Let’s have a look at these examples:

“Saya sedang membaca buku”

“Saya sedang membacakan buku”

In English, both are translated into “I am reading a book.” However, in the second sentence, it is implied that the action “reading” is for the benefit of someone. It might be easier if we see translation of the second sentence as “I am reading a book (for someone).” We call the verbs with the suffix “-kan” as Benefactive Verbs. Let’s see other interesting examples:

“Tolong buka pintu!” is “Please open the door!” in English, but “tolong bukakan pintu!” becomes “Please open the door (for me)!” The first sentence is neutral. It might be said when the speaker wants the audience to open it but because of the distant relationship between the speaker and the audience, the speaker makes the request less personal. On the other hand, the second sentence tells us that the speaker is in need of having the door opened by the audience, so the request becomes more personal. The speaker wants the audience to open it for the sake of the speaker.

Indonesian language is a unique language on its own. In this post I have discussed how the subject and object are related. Here, I also discussed how the speaker can involve the audience by making s/he an implied part of the sentence.

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