Indonesian Serial Verbs with the Directive Verb “pergi” and their Translation into English

Written by Luh Windiari in 2012

This article is also posted on Academia.edu and another blog of TranslationPapers Bali

 

Indonesian Serial Verbs with the Directive Verb “pergi” and their Translation into English

1. 1 Background of the Study

There are many researches about the serial verbs constructions (SVCs) in many languages conducted by many experts in linguistics.  However, there are not many researches focusing on the translation of Indonesian serial verbs especially the translation of Indonesian directive serial verbs (DSVs) into English. This makes it interesting as well as challenging to be studied.

Sutthichatchawanwong and Luksaneeyanawin (2006) point out that “in the earlier period, some linguists syntactically view SVCs as a multi-sentence structure via Transformations Theory (Stewart, 1963; Stahlke, 1970; Li and Thompson 1973; Bamgbose, 1974) while some view them as a mono-clausal construction produced by Phrase Structure Rules (Williams, 1971; Schachter, 1974; Jansen et al, 1978). In the later time, SVCs seem to be semantically viewed and discussed referring to a single event (Filbeck, 1975; Lord, 1973; Sebba, 1987; Crowley, 1987) and serving a variety of functions (Masica, 1976; Thepkanjana, 1986; Aikhenvald, 2006). With these two dissimilar viewpoints, the disagreement on the definition of SVC is inevitable. However, some linguists apply both semantic and syntactic aspects in defining SVCs as this may help to cover their characteristics more than using either aspect in isolation.”

Serial Verb Construction (SVC) is a syntactic feature that is marked by the existence of two or more verbs in a single clause that are not separated by any conjunction. Trask (1993:251-252) describes a serial verb construction (SVC) as: “A construction in which what appears to be a single clause semantically is expressed syntactically by a sequence of juxtaposed separate verbs, all sharing the same subject or agent but each with its own additional arguments, without the use of overt coordinating conjunctions.”

If we have a look at the types of verbs constructing the Indonesian serial verb, we can see that the Indonesian serial verb can be constructed by action verb + action verb like ‘bekerja mencari’, motion / directive verb + action like ‘berlari membawa’, and other types of serial verb constructions. Directive serial verbs are constructed by at least one directive verb such as ‘pergi’ (go), “datang’ (come), ‘masuk’ (enter), ‘naik’ (up), ‘turun’ (down), ‘berjalan’ (walk), and etc. The directional / directive serial verb constructions can be directive + action, directive + directive or other possible types.

This research will focus on Indonesian serial verbs with the directive verb “PERGI”. Among Indonesian serial verbs, serial verbs with the directive verb “PERGI” occur frequently in the source text. In the spoken language too, this type occurs the most frequently. This is the reason for choosing this type to be analyzed in this paper.  The data were taken from Harimau! Harimau! by Mochtar Lubis and its translation in English into Tiger! by Florence Lamoureux.

2. Theoretical Bases

The theoretical bases are based on some serial verbs-related theories proposed by Trask (1993), Kroeger (2004), and Aikhenvald (2006). Semantically, this study refers to the theories by Baker (1991), and Durie (1997) about types of serializations (related to the meaning denoted by the serial verbs). Some other supporting theories related to serial verbs constructions and translations are also used.

2.1 Serial Verbs Construction (SVC)

Serial Verb Construction (SVC) is a syntactic feature that occurs in Indonesian and some other languages. SVC is marked by the existence of two or more verbs in a single clause which are not separated by any conjunction. Trask (1993:251-252) describes a serial verb construction (SVC) as: “A construction in which what appears to be a single clause semantically is expressed syntactically by a sequence of juxtaposed separate verbs, all sharing the same subject or agent but each with its own additional arguments, without the use of overt coordinating conjunctions.” Trask gives the following examples of typical SVCs from the West African languages of Yoruba and Vagala.

a. Yoruba (West African)

ó mú ìwé 

3sg took book came

‘He brought the book.’

b. Vagala (West African)

ù kpá kíyzèé mòng ówl

3sg take knife cut meat

‘He cut the meat with a knife.’

Kroeger (2004:229-230) quoted by Roberts in his article How to Find Serial Verbs in English proposes a set of characteristic properties of SVCs as follows:

a.   A prototypical SVC contains two or more morphologically independent verbs within the same clause, neither of which is an auxiliary.

b. There are no conjunctions or other overt markers of subordination or coordination separating the two verbs.

c. The serial verbs belong to a single intonation contour, with no pause separating them.

d. The entire SVC refers to a single (possibly complex) event.

e. A true SVC may contain only one specification for tense, aspect, modality, negation, etc., though these features are sometimes redundantly marked on both verbs.

f.   The two verbs in the SVC share at least one semantic argument.

g.   Obligatory non-coreference: a true SVC will not contain two overt NPs which refer to the same argument.

h.   A prototypical SVC contains only one grammatical subject.

Kroeger (2004:230) says that an important distinction between an SVC, where a verb series forms a complex predicate, and a set of conjoined clauses each comprising its own predicate verb is that there are no markers of subordination (e.g. complementizers) or markers of coordination (e.g. coordinators) in an SVC.

In a more recent cross-linguistic typological study, Aikhenvald (2006) says: “A serial verb construction (SVC) is a sequence of verbs which act together as a single predicate, without any overt marker of coordination, subordination, or syntactic dependency of any sort. Serial verb constructions describe what is conceptualized as a single event. They are monoclausal; their intonational properties are the same as those of a monoverbal clause, and they have just one tense, aspect and polarity value. SVCs may also share core and other arguments. Each component of an SVC must be able to occur on its own. Within an SVC, the individual verbs may have same, or different, transitivity values.”

Semantically, there are some types of verb serialization i.e. (1) cause-effect serialization; (2) causative serialization; (3) Goal or benevactive serialization; (4) motion serialization; (5) instrumental serialization; (6) locative serialization; (7) purpose serialization; (8) directional serialization; (9) modal/ability serialization; and (10) when iconic principles do not apply, this type includes manner serializationsynonymic serialization; and comitative serialization (Baker, 1991: 79 – 81; Durie, 1997: 331 – 338; Kroeger, 2004: 227 – 229 quoted in Kosmas: 2010).

2.2  Indonesian Directive Verbs

Directional verbs are lexical verb whose semantics are inherently related to motion or direction. They indicate a direction, a point to or from which a person or a thing moves. There are many directional verbs in Indonesian but the common ones are pergi(go), datang (come), masuk (enter), turun (descend), berjalan (walk), melangkah (step), and berlari (run).

There is also another term that is closely related to this term, namely motion verbs. Motion verbs involve an action or a process of moving and usually, a person or a thing moves to a certain direction and therefore this condition can be also regarded as a directive one. This is why the two terms are interrelated. Indonesian DVs when combined with another main verb may denote several concepts such as directional, purposive, aspectual, sequential, etc.

2.3  Indonesian Directive Serial Verbs

In Indonesian, directive serial verbs consist of at least one directive verb along with other types (or can be the same type of verbs) which have the same function as the main verbs. For example:

           ‘Dia  pergi meninggalkan  rumahnya’.

He   go        leave               his house

‘He left his home.’

In that sentence pergi (a directional verb which means ‘go’) and meninggalkan (an action verb which means ‘leave’) both share the same agent, dia and they are constructing a single event. Therefore, they are considered as serial verbs. The serial verbs pergi meninggalkan which semantically denotes a directional or motion serialization is translated into a single verb ‘left’ which is not a complex predicate.

3. Data and Analysis

There are three data taken from Harimau! Harimau! by Mochtar Lubis and its translation in English into Tiger! byFlorence Lamoureux. The source text data are presented along with the translation in table and the analysis is presented under the table.

Data 1

SL (Indonesian)

TL (English)

Pernah sekali mereka pergi berburu. One time they were hunting.

Analysis of data 1:

Pernah sekali mereka pergi berburu.

Ever      once     they     go     hunt

‘One time they were hunting.

Syntactically, the Indonesian sentence in data 1 has two verbs: ‘pergi’ which is an intransitive verb and ‘berburu’ (which can be either transitive or intransitive, but in this sentence it is intransitive). They are sharing the same agent ‘mereka’. Those two verbs are constructing a single event.  The first and the second verbs need one argument.  Followings are the description:

Pernah sekali mereka  pergi. (‘pergi’ needs one argument: ‘mereka’)

Pernah sekali mereka  berburu. (‘berburu’ needs one argument: ‘mereka’)

 Meanwhile, the English form has one main verb ‘hunting’ with an auxiliary verb ‘were’. These two verbs however are not serial verbs. This data shows that there are differences both syntactically and semantically. The syntactic difference is inevitable since every language has its own system. However, the semantic or the meaning denoted may possibly same. The Indonesian DSV ‘pergi berburu’ denotes a purpose serialization. If the sentence is translated into ‘went to hunt’ the denoted meaning in the source text can be retained in the target text. However, the translation is ‘were hunting’ which denotes a progressive action. This is one of the interesting examples in which the translation may denote a slightly different meaning.

Data 2

SL (Indonesian)

 

TL (English)

Aku hendak pergi mengambil obat. I wanted to go to get some medicine.

Analysis of data 2:

Aku hendak pergi  mengambil    obat.

I        want     go          get        medicine

‘I wanted to go to get some medicine.’

The Indonesian sentence in data 2 consists of two verbs: ‘pergi’ (directional, intransitive) and ‘mengambil’ (action, transitive) and both are sharing the same agent ‘aku’. Both verbs are constructing a single event. The first verb, ‘pergi’ has one argument while the second verb ‘mengambil’ needs two arguments since it is a transitive verb. The followings are the description:

Aku hendak pergi (‘pergi’ has one argument: ‘aku’)

Aku hendak mengambil obat (‘mengambil’ has two arguments: ‘aku’ and ‘obat’)

If we look at the English version, we can see that the adverb ‘hendak’ is translated into a verb ‘wanted’ (shift of word class), while the serial verbs ‘pergi mengambil’ is translated into ‘to go to get’. Syntactically, each Indonesian lexical verb in SVCs is not individually translated into a series of English lexical verbs but they are expressed with a main verb “to go” with the compliment verb “to get”.

Semantically, the serial verbs ‘pergi mencari’ are expressing purpose serialization, in which the first verb ‘pergi’ which means gohas a purpose reflecting the purpose of the subject or the agent (WHY or WHAT FOR), that in this case the agent (AKU) goes to get some medicine. In this second data, we can see that the meaning in SL is still retained in TL.

Data 3

SL (Indonesian)

 

TL (English)

Mereka pergi berteduh di dalam pondok yang dibuat dari daun-daun pisang hutan dan keladi. They had to take shelter in a lean-to made of banana leaves.

Analysis of data 3:

Mereka   pergi   berteduh    di dalam   pondok yang dibuat dari     daun-daun pisang hutan dan keladi.

They         go       take  shelter  inside     lodging  that  made from     banana Forestand caladium leaves

‘They had to take shelter in a lean-to made of banana leaves.

The Indonesian example in data 3 has two verbs. They are sharing the same agent ‘mereka’. Those two verbs are constructing a single event.  V1 (pergi) is an intransitive verb which takes one argument, while V2 (berteduh) is also an intransitive verb which in this case takes two arguments and they are intransitive. The followings are the description:

Mereka pergi. (‘pergi’ needs one argument: ‘mereka’)

Mereka berteduh di dalam pondok yang dibuat dari daun-daun pisang hutan dan keladi. (‘berteduh’ needs two arguments ‘mereka’ and ‘di dalam pondok yang dibuat dari daun-daun pisang hutan dan keladi.’)

If we look at the translation in English, the SVC pergi berteduh is simply translated into a main verb take with the semi modal indicating past necessity had to. Semantically, the Indonesian serial verbs in data 3 also express a purpose serialization, the overall scene of one complex event is described, in which V1, ‘pergi’ (go) refers to the initial action that has purpose which is explained by V2 (‘berteduh’). However, in the English translation, the DSV is not translated into serial verb; instead, it translated into the modal auxiliary + main verb which semantically indicates a past necessity (had to take shelter…). The case of data 1 and data 3 are the same in which there is a slightly different impact produced by the translation. Semantically, the meaning in TL is no longer talking about the purpose; instead it is about a necessity. This may due to the intervention from the translation point of view.

 

4. Conclusion

From the data analysis above, there some points of conclusion. First, syntactically, each Indonesian lexical verb in SVCs with the directive verb “PERGI” is not individually translated into a series of English lexical verbs but they can be expressed with a main verb with or without different grammatical devices to carry the same concepts. In the English translation, the Indonesian SVCs with the directive verb “PERGI” are presented with different linguistics structures, e.g. prepositionadverbauxiliaryinflectionetc.

Semantically, Indonesian DSVs with the directive verb PERGI creates a purpose serialization if followed by another verb sharing the same agent. However, the semantic meaning of the translation is depending upon the translator’s point of view. The translator can follow the semantic meaning of the source text DSVs but it seems the translation would be literal; or the translation may apply the modulation procedure that will change the meaning to some extent.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Durie, Mark. 1997. Grammatical Structures in Verb Serialization. In Alsina Alex, Joan Bresnan, dan Peter Sells (Ed.). Complex Predicates. 289 – 354.Stanford,California: CSLI

Kosmas, Jeladu. 2010. Konstruksi Verba Serial Bahasa Rongga. Linguistika vol. 17 September.UdayanaUniversity.

Kroeger, Paul R. 2004. Analyzing Syntax: A Lexical – Functional Approach.Cambridge:CambridgeUniversity Press.

Leonardi, Vanessa. 2000. Equivalence in Translation: Between Myth and Reality Translation Journal Volume 4, No. 4 October (available on http://translationjournal.net/)

LubisMochtar.1977. HarimauHarimau! Jakarta: Pustaka Jaya.

LubisMochtar.1991. Tiger! Translated from the Indonesian by Florence Lamoureux.Singapore: Select Books

Luksaneeyanawin and Sutthichatchawanwong. 2006. A Study of The Translation of Thai Serial Verb Constructions with Directional Verbs and Their Semantic and Syntactic Equivalence in English. (Available on Thai Linguistic Library)

Roberts, John. 2009. How to Find Serial Verbs in Englishan RRG analysis of phase verb constructions. Presented at the Role and Reference Grammar International Conference, 2009.Berkeley University,California. (Available on RRG website)

Sedeng, I Nyoman. 2004. Serialisasi Verba Bahasa Sikka. Linguistika vol 01. Bali: Udayana University

Van Valin Jr, Robert D. and Randy J.LaPolla. 1999. Syntax: Structure, Meaning, and Function. Cambridge:CambridgeUniversity Press.

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