Macquarie University
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Polar questions in Bahasa Indonesia: a pilot study

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posted on 2022-03-28, 02:32 authored by Fakry Hamdani
Polar questions (i.e., questions that can take a “yes” or a “no” response) are formed in a variety of ways across the world’s languages. In Bahasa Indonesia, polar questions in spoken language are realised in two ways: unmarked polar questions and marked polar questions. Unmarked polar questions do not involve any morphosyntactic or lexical resources to indicate questionhood. In contrast, marked polar questions are formed using final particles, namely ya,kan, sih, dong, lho/loh, toh, tah. This study explores polar questions in everyday conversation in Bahasa Indonesia, focusing on unmarked questions, and questions marked with ya and kan. It uses principles and practices derived from conversation analysis to explore interactions in Bahasa Indonesia. 12 Bahasa-speaking people were recruited to participate, yielding a corpus of 2 hours and 7 minutes of video recordings for analysis. Analysis focuses on the epistemic characteristics of unmarked and marked polar questions. Unmarked polar questions realised the strongest epistemic asymmetry, casting the question recipient as the knowledgeable party. Polar questions marked with the particle ya also realised an epistemic asymmetry, but they indexed a more knowing epistemic stance on the part of the speaker. Polar questions marked with kan indexed a more symmetrical distribution of knowledge between the speaker and the recipient. The findings of this study contribute to knowledge on the functions of final particles in Bahasa, and more generally. Future studies should explore other question particles in Bahasa, and compare other functions of ya and kan.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Methodology -- Chapter 3. Polar questions in Bahasa Indonesia -- Chapter 4. Discussion and conclusion.


Bibliography: pages 52-58 Theoretical thesis.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Scott Barnes


Copyright Fakry Hamdani 2016. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (vi, 59 pages) colour illustrations

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