There have been plenty of publications (mostly by David Gil) discussing how Riau Indonesian is a unique language that lacks word categories.

To me, this sounds huge: a truly unique language, no word classes, limits of languages broadened. I'm no linguist, but I think if I were, I would certainly want to learn more about it.

Yet it's been suspiciously quiet on this matter recently. No new publications, no further reasearch - other than D. Gil, no-one even seems to care about it.

My question is: is Riau Indonesian even genuine as a monocategorial language? Or was it (perhaps) a mistake made by Gil? And if it is genuine, why does it get so little attention?

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    Languages like this are sometimes called flexible languages. Some other famous examples are Tongan and Samoan. It's still pretty controversial although the notion of precategoriality (where lexemes have no innate PoS and this is only assigned when put into an utterance) seems to be fairly established, eg in Austronesian studies. Aug 8, 2020 at 3:04
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    Riau Indonesian is not very different from the ordinary Bahasa spoken in Malaysia. It's much closer to Chinese and English typologically -- root root root root.
    – jlawler
    Feb 6, 2022 at 21:55
  • @jlawler, so Riau Indonesian does have rigid syntactic rules then, similar to English? Rigid word order, a place for a verb and for a subject etc. Right?
    – A.V. Arno
    May 24, 2022 at 21:49
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    Not very rigid; and zero is the most common pronoun, in all persons. Most nouns are also verbs, and vice versa. Context is everything.
    – jlawler
    May 24, 2022 at 22:39
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    Standard Malay is a fiction. There are many varieties spoken in many places by speakers of many other languages, and things vary. A lot. Places like Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka try to keep track in Malaysia, but they're way behind. Nobody else knows, especially in Indonesia.
    – jlawler
    May 25, 2022 at 18:19


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