Malay Loan Words in English

Aug 13th, 2008, in Society, by

AmokA not very taxing quiz to guess the Malay/Indonesian origins of some words in English.

"Jakarta Guy", as some sort of way of celebrating Indonesian independence day anniversary on 17th August, holds a quiz where Indonesians are asked to guess the Indonesian Malay origins of ten words in English.

Most of them are very, very easy:

The words are:

  • ketchup
  • orangutan
  • bamboo
  • agar (gelatin from seaweed)
  • amok
  • rattan
  • proa (type of boat)
  • paddy
  • compound
  • boogeyman/bogeyman

There might be some dispute over the last one.

Feel free to list some more.


75 Comments on “Malay Loan Words in English”

  1. avatar timdog says:

    Well, they’re all pretty much self-explanatory…
    But bogeyman surely does NOT come from Bugis…
    There are boggles in Scotland and Bogeymen in England and I’m pretty sure these fearsome beasties of the night were in place long before any East India Company sailor ever came across a Bugis pirate from Sulawesi…
    It’s probably a Norse or Celtic word – possibly conflated with the use of Napolean Boneparte as a figure of fear for a long time in the UK. It’s probably died out now, but “BoNey” (ie an evil French monster) was used as an updated boGeyman to scare the kids in the past…

    Probably the origin of the Bugis-bogeyman connection runs in the opposite direction to that purported in the myth… English sailors probably came across Bugis and nick-named them “bogeymen” as a kind of cross-linguistic pun – a weak one it must be said… The English were forever Anglicising “oriental” words, some of which (cushy, bungalow, amock, juggernaut etc) passed into common English usage; many of which (rum johnny, samjy, dak, chota peg etc) died out forever with the end of empire… this is where you need to get out your Hobson-Jobson Dictionary (an invaluable reference to anyone with an interest in such things). Unfortunately I do not have mine at hand…

    Incidentally, and wildly digressively, does anyone know the origins of “big” and “small” in Indonesian? Something that I noticed long, long ago, had since forgotten, but which just popped back into my mind is that they are somewhat similar to the same words in Persian (Farsi) – Buzorg and Kuchik… This is not an Arabic connection (though both Indonesian and Persian are highly acquisitive from Arabic despite having no linguistic relationship to that language); some link between the Persian and Indian words for big and small is just about perceivable (so they must share an Indoeuropean root), but the Indonesian versions are noticeably much closer to the Persian than to the Indian forms… anyone care to explain?

  2. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Halo All My Seksi Friend,

    Also:

    Bantamweight

    From Banten Chicken !

  3. avatar janma says:

    compound??????? please explain? how is this a malay loan word?

  4. avatar mirax says:

    Ketchup is of chinese origin.

    The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology | Date: 1996
    ketchup XVIII (earlier catchup XVII, catsup XVIII).— Chinese (Amoy) k?e-chiap, k?-tsiap brine of fish; cf. Malay kechap.

    Bamboo may be of either south indian or west sumatran origin but gingham and cockatoo are malay :

    The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology | Date: 1996
    gingham XVII. — (prob. through Du. gingang) Malay genggang striped fabric

    The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology | Date: 1996
    cockatoo XVII (cacatoe). — Du. kaketoe — Malay kakatua;

    Launch – the boat- may be malay too : Malay lanchar quick, nimble.

    Batik and sarong are too obvious and I am not surprised that Achmad knows all about chickens and competition categories for the undersized…

  5. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    Yes, well, I’m not surprised an Indian has the time and inclination to go hunting for obscure references in the dictionary. You must be a real blast at a party, Mirax. “Hey everyone, forget the body shots, let’s go look up the etymology of ketchup !”

  6. avatar tomaculum says:

    I think Ketchup is not kecap.
    In the Oxford dictionary we can find a theory, that “ketchup” is a word from an Amoy-Dialect (Amoy=Xiamen in Fujian, PR of China) and written something like ?? , also possible, that this sauce made of fermented fish were imported from Vietnam.
    The word “ketchup” was first known in the 17th Century and was defined as “high/fine East India sauce” (East India was the name of South- and South-East Asia generally at that time. The first recipe for it was writen in 1727 with anchovy, shallot, white wine vinegar and several spices.
    The next theory is that ketchup derived from Indonesia and is made of fermented Soy bean (without fish or tomato).
    Our Kecap is only made of Soy bean and some spices without fish, least of all tomatoes. So I don’t believe that “ketchup” is originally “melayu”-word. I don’t know if in Malaysia is Kecap (not ketchup!) also domiciled. Someone knows it?
    In western countries people know “ketchup” and “soy sauce”.

    Are we sure, that “amok” is a malay-word? I personally believe that this word is originally javanese (amuk).

  7. avatar joao says:

    How about gutta percha ? Kinda rubbery substance [getah perca]. It’s definitely of Malay origin.
    I had sampan in my mind, we have the word in Bahasa after all. But my dictionary has the final say. It seems to be from the Chinese words san ban. That’s literally ‘three boards’ in English.

  8. avatar joao says:

    In a sense, the word compound origin can be traced back to kampong in English. You know, a group of particular buildings. As in industrial compound.

  9. avatar ali says:

    Compound is quite similar to kampong, so those words might be related, but that is just speculation on my part.

    – Ali

  10. avatar Benjamin says:

    tsk tsk…Achmad Sudarsono bringing race into it once more….my my

  11. avatar Purba Negoro says:

    Unsurprising since Malaysia is the willing sodomite partner of UK-US. This is what happens when the culture is a derivative cheap knock-off devoid of any glory.

    The insecure “coconuts” of Malaysia will try their utmost to mimic their British masters whenever and wherever they can-
    much like the much lamented “Anglo-Indian”- more British than the British.

  12. avatar mirax says:

    If Achemad were to take the chip off his shoulder, he’d be in flyweight category, buzzing around rubbish dumps.

    A couple of minutes of googling isnt massive research and if indians hadnt been interested in words, your language would be missing a big chunk of its vocabulary. Ever noticed which side owns the cultural deficit? (sorry but you’ve unleashed my inner, supercilious brahmin!)

    What might be truly taxing is to find more than 50 indonesian words that have travelled into other languages as opposed to the more than 20 000 absorbed into it from English, Chinese , Sanskrit and other Indian languages, Dutch, Portuguese …

    English itself is a portmanteau language (which accounts for its idiosyncrasies, complexities but ultimately, charm) but Indonesian/Bahasa Melayu is truly mongrel!

  13. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    That’s Indians, Mirax, not you. I never said Salman Rushdie wouldn’t be fun.

    And now are you implying that some languages are “pure” and some aren’t ? Perhaps like some classes of people, classes that they’re born into ?

    The fact is, Mirax, that before too long, Singapore will be a part of the greater Mojopahit Empire, run from Jakarta, and you’ll be filling out your tax returns in Bahasa Indonesia.

  14. avatar Oigal says:

    you’ll be filling out your tax returns in Bahasa Indonesia.

    mmm Thats one way to improve the 3% (?) private income tax return compliance rate.

  15. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    How’s your tax return in Indonesia going, Oigal ?

  16. avatar tomaculum says:

    These damned westerner stealing Indonesian words, hmm … 🙂

    The fact is, Mirax, that before too long, Singapore will be a part of the greater Mojopahit Empire, run from Jakarta, and you’ll be filling out your tax returns in Bahasa Indonesia.
    Oops, is there any plan of the Indonesian gov. to occupy Singapore? And Indonesia will be changed into Majapahit with Shiva-Buddhism as State’s religion?
    With Achmad Sudarsono as Ratu Tri Ilatbwana Banyolnagara? 🙂

  17. avatar Achmad Sudarsono says:

    P.S. — also, Mirax, I think it would be better if you referred to me as “Bpk Achmad Yth.” The Asian culture places greater emphasis on respect than the West. Also, Asia is a place where woman still respects Man, unlike the West. Finally, just as a younger brother has to show respect to his older brother, a Singaporean should defer to an Indonesian. I thank you.

  18. avatar Oigal says:

    Full tote, thanks Assmad..even declare the stuff the idiots would/couldn’t find out about if they tried, but not interested in playing their game. Pay as regulated and makes it so much more fun when you need to take the high moral ground..

  19. avatar Oigal says:

    I think it would be better if you referred to me as “Bpk Achmad Yth.

    AH come on Assmad..you have done that one to death..do we continually refer to you as a pillow chewing rent boy?..Even a organic growth of low principles like yourself should be able to come up with something new..after all you have proven no rock is too slimy to call your own

  20. avatar AchmadSudarsono says:

    Oigal,

    Well, that’s impressive (the tax), that is.

    On Bpk, fair enough, you’re right. it was a slow afternoon. But why don’t you share your views on feminism with Mirax ? I remember before you thought I was a pillow-chewing rent boy, you thought I was a “NGO-employed, sarong-wearing dyke, strugging around the village, sucking off the public teat.”

    Readers might appreciate your views on dykes, feminism, and rent boys. To steer us back to topic, I think “banci” comes from “banshee” — in a reversal of Malay-English.

    Banshee given because of they sound they used to make, probably at the hands of people like you and off-duty Aussie soldiers.

  21. avatar Ally says:

    Why you make correction on Indonesian into Malay? It seems we Indonesians have no rights to consider our own culture, name it as we think more appropriate…

    It is the same as I don’t understand why komodo was found in the early 1900. It is like to say we Indonesians never knew the existence of komodo before…

  22. avatar Teng says:

    Why you make correction on Indonesian into Malay? It seems we Indonesians have no rights to consider our own culture, name it as we think more appropriate…

    Maybe it is because when the English took over the words, it was still Malay, not yet Bahasa Indonesia. I think that is why Patung ‘corrected’ it. Not sure ofcourse 😀

  23. avatar Purba Negoro says:

    Boso M’layu and Bahasa Indonesia is Boso Batavia Melayu- a patois formed mainly from CRUDE JAVANESE (ngoko) and the regional language. The one root is Malay- menaing “moslem indian of malay archipelgao”- which could mean a modern-day phillippino!

    “…Though ethnic groups from vari-ous parts of the Indonesian Archipelago lived in distinct parts of Jakarta, they spoke a common lingua franca, either Batavian Malay (Omong Jakarta, a creole) or Low Malay/Trade Malay/Bazaar Malay (a pidgin).

    Thus modern Malaysian= Betawi (crude, uncultured gutter language) + Qurannic-Sharia arabic+ English, some Gujarati + Hokkien

    Indonesian- majority Betawi + crude Javanese (ngoko)

    But some words in Malay are funny: like
    Malay banci= census = transvestite in Indo!
    Malay percuma = free Indo (worthless)
    Malay= bogel (nude)= Short in Javanese slang
    Malay- pusing (turn)= dizzy!(Indo)
    Malay bercinta (love)- coitus (Indo)
    Malay buntut (bum)- tail (Indo)
    Malay kakitangan (employee- but means feet (kaki) for hands (tangen- ngoko Javanese)- mafioso bastard (Indo)

    And funniest of all and perhaps betraying the real Malay tendencies-
    a pantat is a Malay “pussy”, but a pair of buttocks in Indonesian!

    Be careful what you enter Malays.

    http://www.iias.nl

    http://www.yawningbread.org/guest_2005/guw-100.htm

  24. avatar mirax says:

    I never said Salman Rushdie wouldn’t be fun.

    Yeah, he is a bloke’s bloke, our Salman, great to go whoring with.


    And now are you implying that some languages are “pure” and some aren’t ? Perhaps like some classes of people, classes that they’re born into ?

    Not at all. It’s you and quite a few nutcases on this site – like the purba guy above- who are obsessed with classifying and labelling people. You are a very tedious and quite unfunny little man, Achemad. Your schtick is wearing thin.

  25. avatar mirax says:

    Does the Purba joker know that Rajan R, the author of the stuff he lifted wholesale from the yawning bread blog( one of singapore’s best blogs btw, its owner is gay activist Alex Au ) is just a 19-year old kid? Smart, well informed and all the rest of it but not really anything of an authority on the subject?

    Furthermore Purba would sh*t in his sarong if he knew rajan’s political views, this is so funny, ;-)!

  26. avatar Purba Negoro says:

    Mirax:
    to the contrary- it proves I am not a mindless, racist homophobe. , unlike others, am more intersted in the content, not the sexual preference or race of the person.

    Chinese are detested in Indonesia because of what they do, not who they are, and forever will they be by the Rakyat- as they show no motivation to reconcile nor contrition for being lickspittle compradores of the Dutch, turncoats to the returning Dutch and British or price-gouging robbers who’ll sell their mother’s kidneys given a chance to British “bitch” Switzerland of the South East Singa-whore.

    And you, whom claim I categorise, objectify and degrade- are Mr Pott calling out “Black! Black!” from your glass house. Now go chase some Malay pantat.

  27. avatar Purba Negoro says:

    Also- just as I remember- come to Jakarta- you’ll find the gay scene thriving and for some reason the highest concentration of transvestites and gay prostitutes are in the areas inhabited by Australian and UK expats. These are Jalan Bulungan in Blok M, and Kemang.
    or for Aussies: “Keh-maaaaaang”- the “a” is pronounced like a male cat on heat calling for a quick wick-dipping.
    How appropriate.

    Must be the shared legacy of rum, lashes, all-boys’ boarding colleges with their proud traditions of ecret boys’ societies, prefects and shirt-lifting, and love of gardening, uphill both ways of course.

  28. avatar tomaculum says:

    to the contrary- it proves I am not a mindless, racist homophobe. , unlike others, am more intersted in the content, not the sexual preference or race of the person.

    Furthermore, Irian is underpopulated with less than 1 million at time of integration and most IRian are simple-minded stone-age savages unable to cope with modern civilisation with a very low rate of reproduction.

    Irian, Ambonese and Maluku are very simple people easily persuaded by simplistic argument and empty promises of the Dutch.

    No comment.

  29. avatar Purba Negoro says:

    Nice try Mr Morality on demand.

    I think you’ll find simple has a plethora of meanings in Indonesian. Wong Cilik or Rkayat, like you, are not famous for the intellectual sophistication.

    But how an uneductaed, isolated “folk” person can possibly run government is the kind of difficult question Political Correctness cowards refuse to answer.
    And of course, they cannot put 2 and 2 togetehr linking Political Correctness, political censorship and Leninst-MArxist ideology.

    Indonesia is not a nation of cowards and thus we refuse to surrender our thought to the whims and fads of the armchair Socialists mincing about their newfound morals.

    Come to Jakarta- I’ll book you a trip with Kopaskus to visit your beloved cannibals.

  30. avatar tomaculum says:

    Bang, bang, Purbo?
    No other argument?
    Sad.

Comment on “Malay Loan Words in English”.

RSS
RSS feed
Email

Copyright Indonesia Matters 2006-18
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Contact