Made-up Words in Brunei

I was watcing Juara Lagu on TV3 last night when the presenter reminded that the word 'kugiran' is actually a made up word - kumpulan gitar rancak thus the first syllables of the three words making up kugiran. That reminded me when I first heard of the word many years ago about the days of the Beatles who spearheaded the boys band and in the Malay world, we had many other 'kugirans' following suit. Though honestly I cannot recall a single name now.

Made up words are interesting. Indonesians to me are masters of this. I remembered ABRI which stands for Angkatan Bersenjata Republik Indonesia and DEPLU - Departemen Luar Negara. When I was in Surabaya, we were taken to one of their tourist attractions called 'Monkasel'. It is actually a real Russian submarine which was bought by the Indonesian Navy and saw action when it fought against the Dutch in the Arafura sea battle freeing West Irian from the Dutch. The submarine has now been turned into a monument and 'Monumen Kapal Selam' is 'Monkasel'. Another famous attraction in Jakarta is called 'Monas'. The National Monument tower built in 1961 (completed in 1975!) symbolized the fight for Indonesia's Independence. What most people don't know is that at the flame-shaped bronze at the top is 35 kg of gold plated on it. Anyway, I am digressing, 'Monas' is short for 'Monumen Nasional'.

How many made up words are in the Brunei vocabulary? I am not sure really. Similar to Indonesia, most ministries have their shortforms, either their initials becoming a word or into a made up word - M.F.A. or now MOFAT, MINDEF, M.O.C, M.O.D., K.K.B.S., M.O.F., - the only ministry that hasn't yet made up a word is Religious Affairs. However not all departments have their shortforms - J.K.R. has one. TAP is another. In the early days I championed T.A.P. rather than TAP but nowadays TAP is widely used. The 'new' agency A.i.T.i is the most interesting of all shortforms as that one has both capital and small letters. It creates havoc when you type the word.

Of non government words, I know of two Brunei words which readily comes to mind. 'Awda' is one. 'Awda' made up of 'Awang/Dayang' was coined much earlier but popularised by RTB - and started to be used by the presenters around 1970s. Even though this word is primarily used by RTB, I noticed that more and more notices are using it. Though it has not reached official status yet - the word is not included in the Kamus Bahasa Melayu Nusantara.

Another word is 'Tadika' which most people know stands for 'kindgergarten'. Kindergarten is a German word which literally means Children's Garden and that got transformed into English usage. The original Brunei word was 'Taman Bimbingan Kanak-Kanak' whose syallables made up the word 'Tabika' but the Malaysian usage 'Taman Didikan Kanak-Kanak' which made up 'Tadika' becomes widely used.

The other day on a Malaysian program, they talked about 'Andalusia' which I can assure you is not a country. It is a more up to date word for 'Andartu', both words are rather sensitive to unmarried single ladies, so I will not expand either one any further.

What you are reading is also a made up word - a blog which comes from the word 'weblog'. The word 'weblog' itself was coined by a Jorn Barger on 17 December 1997. The shorter form, 'blog' was coined by Peter Merholz in April 1999. This was adopted widely as both a noun and verb ('to blog," meaning "to edit one's weblog or to post to one's weblog'). Another word which hasn't yet reached the status of blog is 'vlog' which is a blog with a video. Another is 'webzine' which is web magazine. With many Bruneians into photographic blogs, I am surprised 'plog' has not caught on yet. So, what makes a made up word catch on?
PS. I received a number of reminders that we should (to quote ad verbatim) "give credit to one of our elder statesmen, Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Setia Negara Pengiran Haji Mohd Yussof (ex-Ambassador to Japan amongst his long list of governmental positions held previously) for that particular word, "Awda", that was coined by him originally before RTB adopted it." I have made the appropriate correction in my original post.


p o t a t o said…
Gamin = Government?

I forgot where Gustan came from.
'gostan' meaning reverse is derived from 'go astern' which actually is a naval term which somehow made it to dry land. the opposite is 'gohet' which is 'go ahead' or move to the front.
Anonymous said…
Wiimote (Remote) for Nintendo new Wii Console. I think this is one is catching on.

Tumas=Thermos Flask


Pajero=Any 4x4

Kleenex=Any Facial Tissues
Anonymous said…
Tuan BR, I think we should give credit to one of our elder statesmen, Yang Amat Mulia Pengiran Setia Negara Pengiran Haji Mohd Yussof (ex-Ambassador to Japan amongst his long list of governmental positions held previously) for that particular word, "Awda", that was coined by him originally before RTB adopted it, as you've stated correctly.
Anonymous said…
How we use English can be very interesting also. For instance,we keep saying "chop passport" instead of stamp. Some foreigners I know got the shock of their lives when they were told to line up at the customs counter & chop (tatak) their passport!
Aaron John said…
I remember having a conversation with my mom, uncle and auntie regarding these made up words. I fondly remember one word that my uncle used to think was a real word - chipsil. He really thought that it referred to a type of clothes made with cheap fabric. Chipsil is of course originated from the words 'cheap sale'. Another word is 'liminid' to refer to soft drinks. I was told that this was a popular (lemonade) soft drink in the 70's. My grandad still calls a car a 'mutuka'. And a motorboat 'mutubot'.

TV is quite a big influence. When I was growing up, there were words like 'kujek' to refer to someone with no hair. And 'kinon' referred to a generously sized person. Both of these words are from TV shows 'Kojak' and 'Cannon'. I used to watch some Kojak reruns on Malaysian TV but never Cannon. But when 'Jack & the Fat Man' was on in the late 80's, my dad instantly recognized the main character (William Conrad) as 'si kinon'!

Some Arabic words are also adopted especially because of the Hajj. The Arab style robe is called a gamis. I think this is from the Arabic word 'qamis' which means a shirt. The Arabs in Saudi Arabia (in their everyday conversations) pronounce the Arabic alphabet 'qaf' with a 'ga' sound instead of a 'qa'. White hats are called 'topi aji' and perfumes bought in Mekkah are called 'minyak atar'. I think 'atar' or 'atr' is Arabic for perfume.

I hope someone could tell me the origin of the word ‘Astah’. I was told that this was actually short for ‘Astaghfirullah al Azim’ (Arabic for I seek forgiveness from Allah the Almighty/Great). If this is true, then I think people should stop saying ‘Astah!’ and say it in full.

There are English words which we Bruneians are still using for some reasons despite the fact that these words can be translated. One such word is print. As in to print something off a computer. Someone would say 'sudah ku print laporan'. If she/he were to say 'sudah ku cetak laporan', it sounds like she/he had printed a thousand copies of the report using a big printing machine! Another word is parking. The word is used both as a noun and a verb. Even the multi-storey car park building in BSB is referred to as ‘parking betingkat’.

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