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Volunteer: Relawan or Sukarelawan

An affix –wan, in Indonesian language, was derived from the Sanskrit. The use of this affix is followed by noun, such as bangsawan (aristocratic people) ’a person who has nation’, hartawan (rich person) ’a person who has property’, and rupawan (beautiful, pretty) ’a person who has good appearance’.
In its development, the meaning of –wan widens. It can be found in the words ilmuwan (scientist) ’ an expert in science’, negarawan (statesman) ’an expert in science of country’, and fisikawan (physicist) ’an expert in physics’. So, affix –wan in these examples means ’an expert in the field mentioned in the root word’.
In the words such as olahragawan (a male athlete), peragawan (a male model), and usahawan (businessman), the affix –wan means ’a person who has a profession in the field mentioned in the root word’. So, olahragawan means a person who has profession in sport, peragawan means a person who has a profession in model, and usahawan means a person who has a profession in business.
Based on the examples explained above, the affix –wan is never affix in a verb, as in the word rela (willing). Therefore, the correct word for the meaning of volunteer is sukarelawan not relawan, which means ’a person who does jobs without feeling forced’. (Source: Pusat Bahasa)

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