Origin of Malay Words

A few months ago, I was researching for an article about Jawi and the Malay Language for The Brunei Times when I came across this list of words. I did not realise that Bomba was a Portuguese word (what are we doing with a Portuguese language?) and that katil was a Tamil word.

aksi - action (from Dutch actie)
almari - cupboard (from Portuguese armário)
anggur - grape (from Persian انگور/angur)
bahasa - language (from Sanskrit bhāshā)
bandar - town (from Persian بندر/bandr)
bangku - stool (from Portuguese banco)
bendera - flag (from Portuguese bandeira)
bihun - rice vermicelli (from Hokkien bi-hun)
biola - violin (from Portuguese viola)
biskut - biscuit (from English)
bomba - fire brigade (from Portuguese bomba, "pump", or bombeiro, "fireman", lit. "pumper")
boneka - doll (from Portuguese boneca)
buat - do (from Sanskrit wuat)
buku - book (from Dutch boek)
bumi - earth (from Sanskrit bhumi)
cawan - cup (from Mandarin cháwǎn)
dakwah - sermon (from Arabic da3wah)
dewan - hall (from Persian دیوان/diwan)
duka - sadness (from Sanskrit duhkha)
dunia - world (from Arabic dunyā)
falsafah - philosophy (from Arabic falsafah)
gandum - wheat (from Persian گندمGandm)
garfu - fork (from Portuguese garfo)
gereja - church (from Portuguese igreja)
gratis - for free (from Portuguese)
guru - teacher (from Sanskrit)
had - limit (from Arabic hadd)
huruf - word character/letter (from Arabic ḥurūf)
ini - this (from Persian این)
jawab - to answer (from Arabic jawāb)
jendela - window (from Portuguese janela)
Khamis - Thursday (Arabic al-khamis)
kamus - dictionary (from Arabic qāmūs)
kapal - ship (from Tamil கப்பல் /kappal)
katil - bed (from Tamil கட்டில் /kattil)
kaunter - counter or desk (from English)
keju - cheese (from Portuguese queijo)
kemeja - shirt (from Portuguese camisa)
kepala - head (from Sanskrit kapala "skull")
kereta - carriage, car (from Portuguese carreta)
komputer - computer (from English)
kongsi - share (from Hokkien kong-si 公司)
kuda - horse (from Hindi kudh)
kuil - temple (from Tamil கோவில் /kovil)
kurma - date (from Persian خرما/Khurma)
lif - lift, elevator (from English))
limau - lemon/orange (from Portuguese limão "lemon")
lori - lorry, truck (from English)
maaf - sorry (from Hindi māf "forgiveness")/(from Arabic Ma3fu)
maha - great (from Sanskrit)
makmal - laboratory Arabic
mangga - mango (from Portuguese manga)
manusia - human being (from Sanskrit manuṣya)
mentega - butter (from Portuguese manteiga)
mee/mi - noodles (from Hokkien miᴺ)
meja - table (from Portuguese mesa)
misai - moustache (from Tamil மீசை/meesai)
miskin - poor (from Arabic miskiin)
muflis - bankrupt (from Arabic muflis)
nujum - astrologer (from Arabic al-nujum)
nanas/nenas - pineapple (from Portuguese or Arabic ananás)
paderi - priest (Christian) (from Portuguese padre)
pau - bun (from Hokkien pau 包)
pesta - party (from Portuguese festa)
pita - tape (from Portuguese fita)
putera - prince (from Sanskrit putra "son")
raja - king (from Sanskrit rāja)
roda - wheel (from Portuguese roda)
roti - bread (from Sanskrit roṭi)
sabun - soap (from Arabic) sàbuun
sains - science (from English)
sama - same (from Sanskrit)
sama-sama - together (derived from sama via reduplication)
sekolah - school (from Portuguese escola)
sengsara - suffering (from Sanskrit saṃsara)
sepatu - shoe (from Portuguese sapato)
soldadu - soldier (from Portuguese soldado)
syariah - Islamic law (from Arabic shāri`ah)
syurga - Heaven (from Tamil சொர்கம் /sorgam)
syukur - thankful (from Arabic shukr)
singahsana - location (from Sanskrit singahsanam)
sistem - system (from English)
suka - happiness (from Sanskrit sukha)
tangki - tank (from Portuguese tanque)
tauhu - beancurd (from Hokkien tao-hu)
tarikh - date (from Arabic tārīkh)
teh - tea (from Hokkien tɛ)
teko - teapot (from Hokkien tɛ-ko)
televisyen - television (from English)
tuala - towel (from Portuguese toalha)
tukar - to exchange (from Portuguese trocar)
Agama - Religion (from Sanskrit agama)
unta - camel (from Hindi ūnṭ)
utara - north (from Sanskrit uttara)
warna - colour (from Sanskrit varnam)
waktu - time (from Arabic waqt)
wira - hero ([[from Tamil வீரா /veera]]
zirafah - giraffe (from Arabic zirāfah)


Anonymous said…
Very interesting, as always, Mr BR. Portugese? Maybe it was because the first Europeans to came to Brunei were the Portugese, led by Ferdinand Magellan in 1521, a decade after Malacca (with influence from the old Sanskrit) was conquered by the Portugese. At around that time Sultan Bolkiah ruled Brunei. Arabic and Chinese merchants were aplenty plying around the region hence the other languages. k enuf said about my boring history lesson.
Incidently, I find it funny that our DAYS : Isnin-Ahad do not correspond with the Arabic numbers eventhough those words (Isnin-Ahad) are arabic. Isnin = Ithnin 2, Selasa = Thalasa 3, Rabu = Arba'a 4, Khamis = Khamsaa 5, Sabtu = Sit'ah 6 and Ahad = Wahid, 1. While we Bruneians refer to Isnin-Ahad as Hari 1, 2, 3 etc.
Anonymous said…
Interesting post, I heard somewhere that Za'aba had once said (correct me if I am wrong) that there are 4 words that purely Malay in origin: Kayu, Batu, Babi and Paku....
Anonymous said…
Dear Anon Feb 20, 2008, 10:35 PM,

That's not from Za'aba. I've never seen any books of him mentioning that claim. Who really says that?

I recommend you to learn linguistics and etymologists as well as some languages related to the research (Malay, Sanskrit, Portuguese etc).

However, that is useless if you know nothing about our Ancient Malay's Stone Inscriptions & a copperplate in the Malay World. It's useless too if you know nothing about Austronesian/Malayo-Polynesian vocabulary.

The inscriptions were carved by the Malay ancestors long time ago, surely most of them are before the arrival of Arabic/Persian/Tamil/Chinese influences towards Malay language. Why? It's because the inscriptions only have Sanskrit influence plus abundance of Malay (Austronesian) original/ancient words carved (not just 3 words as claimed by fake theorists/believers who know nothing about history/Malay language timelines & differences of languages).

Only a few stones have a few influence from Arabic. The only one that have Arabic influence are Terengganu Inscription Stone (1303 C.E.), Prasasti Minyetujoh (1380 C.E.).

You can find the stone inscriptions & the copperplate that were carved by Malay ancestors in:
1. Vietnam (Dong Yen Chau inscription) - actually there are abundance of Cham Malay inscriptions in Vietnam. One of them is dated as early as 4th Century.

2. Laguna de Bay, Luzon, Philippines. - It's called as "Laguna Copperplate Inscription".
Dated 900 C.E.

3. Indonesia - below is the list of stone inscriptions in Indonesia:
- Prasasti Sojomerto, Desa Sojomerto, Kecamatan Reban, Batang, Jawa Tengah[1], awal abad ke-7 paling tua[2].
- Prasasti Kedukan Bukit, Palembang, Sumatera Selatan, 16 Juni 682
- Prasasti Talang Tuwo, Palembang, Sumatera Selatan, 23 Maret 684
- Prasasti Kota Kapur, Kota Kapur, Bangka, 686
- Prasasti Bukateja, Bukateja, Purbalingga, Jawa Tengah[3], abad ke-6 atau ke-7
- Prasasti Karang Brahi, Karangberahi, Jambi, abad ke-7
- Prasasti Telaga Batu, Palembang, Sumatera Selatan, abad ke-7
- Prasasti Palas Pasemah, Palas,Lampung, abad ke-7
- Prasasti Raja Sankhara, Sragen, Jawa Tengah, abad ke-8 (kini hilang).[4]
- Prasasti Kayumwungan, Karangtengah, Temanggung, Jawa Tengah, 824 (dwibahasa, Melayu Kuna dan Jawa Kuna)
- Prasasti Gandasuli I dan II, Candi Gondosuli, Desa Gondosuli, Kecamatan Bulu, Temanggung, Jawa Tengah, 832[3]
- Prasasti Hujung Langit, Hujung Langit, Lampung, 997
- Prasasti Dewa Drabya, Dieng, Jawa Tengah[3]
- Prasasti Mañjuçrighra, Candi Sewu, Prambanan, Klaten, Jawa Tengah, 2 November 792M[3]
- Prasasti Minyetujoh, Minye Tujuh, Aceh, 1380

4. Malaysia:
- Terengganu Inscription Stone (Batu Bersurat Terengganu) - dated 22 February 1303 C.E.

From those inscriptions (including the copperplate) & Austronesian/Malayo-Polynesian vocabulary, you can trace that there are lots...& lots of Malay original words plus it's before the Malay ancestor first split to Taiwan, New Zealand, Hawaii, Rapa Nui & Madagaskar.

But how about the Malay dialects vocabulary? And how about the dialect evolves with creating more new words? These are what of some people overlook, especially the not so expert talking about this matter.

From Shah.
Anonymous said…
Dear author of the above article,

Nice to read your blog. However there are certain incorrect data about the claimed loanwords.

I have a book entitled Inskripsi Melayu Sriwijaya (translated to Malay by Assoc. Prof Dr. Laurent Metzger from an article 'Les Inscriptions Malaises de Crivijaya' which was written by George Coedes . He was an expert in history & archaeology but knew much about linguistics/etymology.)

The incorrect data are:

1. Buat (this word is not from Sanskrit, as G. Coedes stated in the article the word 'vuat' as in Old Malay or 'buat' as in modern Malay - referred from R.J. Wilkinson to be originated from Malay.) The word existed in Srivijayan inscriptions.

I have checked the Sanskrit lexicon & vocabulary everywhere but there's no word 'wuat' or 'vuat' that claimed to be exist in Sanskrit that could be connected to. None of similar spelled words with the closest meanings to Malay's 'vuat'/'buat'. But the most important thing is Western scholars agree that 'vuat' (buat) belongs to Malay vocabulary.

You can search the word by using this dictionary: Spoken Sanskrit Dictionary


Apte English Sanskrit Dictionary Query


Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary


Other Sanskrit Dictionaries

Then, type the word 'wuat' or 'vuat' or 'do' (in English) to find the closest word/meanings.
Surely no 'vuat' or 'wuat' exist in Sanskrit.

2. Ini (this is not from Persian, instead it might been borrowed by the Persian from Malay)
Why? It's because the Persian influence only began during Malacca Sultanate circa (1400 C.E. & above). Whereas the word 'ini' has been existed since (as early as) 4th Century in Dong Yen Chau inscription, Vietnam.

Refer this: Article of Dong Yen Chau Inscription, Vietnam

It was 'ni' in the 4th century inscription that means exactly the same as in modern Malay language which is 'ini'.

Do you know how far the Malay language used & known? For your info, the Persian also knew the Malay language. Malacca Sultanate was too powerful & known widely to the Arabic & Persian as well as Ming dynasty (China). Even Ming dynasty had set up the Malay language Learning Department. So, could that be Malay had influenced the Persian, Arabic & Chinese in terms of Malay words were going into their languages?

From Shah.

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