INDONESIAN LOANWORDS FROM DUTCH

Welcome back to our five-part series on Bahasa Indonesia Loanwords, which explores modern Indonesian words which have been borrowed and adapted from other languages.


In Part One, we looked to the ancient Sanskrit language (https://www.learnindonesian.education/post/indonesian-loanwords-from-sanskrit) for the earliest roots of the language we call Bahasa Indonesia today. In Part Two, we explored the language later left behind by the Portuguese (https://www.learnindonesian.education/post/indonesian-loanwords-from-portuguese), the earliest European traders in the archipelago. And, in Part Three, we covered language contributed by Arab and Persian traders (https://www.learnindonesian.education/post/indonesian-loanwords-from-arabic-and-persian-farsi) in the years following the Portuguese.


In this fourth segment of our series, we will examine the language which has left the most significant mark on the Bahasa Indonesia we speak today – that is, the Dutch language of the Netherlands.


The Dutch arrived in Indonesia in 1602 and established the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) to capitalise on the lucrative spice trade. By 1800, after attaining global prominence in spice and cash crop trade, the Dutch colonised a large portion of the archipelago and named it THE DUTCH EAST INDIES (now Indonesia) with BATAVIA (now Jakarta) as its Capitol.


The Dutch East Indies remained a colony of the Netherlands for 142 years, until the Japanese invaded during World War II. While the Japanese were able to dismantle much of the Dutch colonial state and economy, they would never be able to wipe out the influence of the Dutch language in Indonesia.


After 350 years in the country, the Dutch left behind over 3,000 words which have been adapted to form part of modern-day Bahasa Indonesia, making the Dutch contribution to the Indonesian language far greater than that of any other culture.


In this article, we will look at a few of the thousands of Indonesian words borrowed from the Dutch language.

1. ROKOK & ASBAK


rokok means cigarette.

And asbak means ashtray.


The word rokok comes from the Dutch word roken, which means to smoke a tobacco product or other drug.

And the word asbak comes from the Dutch word asbak with the same spelling and meaning.

2. KANTOR & KAMAR


kantor means office.

And kamar means room.


The word kantor comes from the Dutch word kantoor, which has the same meaning.

And the word kamar comes from the Dutch word kamer with the same meaning.

3. MONTHS OF THE YEAR


All Indonesian months of the year are derived from Dutch.

Most of the months are spelled exactly the same, you can find in:

Januari, Februari, April, Mei, Juni, Juli, September, Oktober, and November.

Meanwhile, a little spelling adaptation can be found in: Maret from Maart, Agustus from Augustus, and Desember from December.

4. KORAN & BUKU


koran means newspaper.

And buku means book.


The word koran comes from the Dutch word kranten, which has the same meaning.

And the word buku comes from the Dutch word boeken with the same meaning.

5. TAS & KOPOR


tas means bag.

And kopor means suitcase.


The word tas comes from the Dutch word tas, with the same spelling and meaning.

And the word kopor comes from the Dutch word koffer with the same meaning.

6. KERAS KEPALA


In Dutch, there is an expression for a “stubborn person” : STIJFKOP.

Stijfkop is the combination of the two Dutch words : stijf meaning stiff + kop meaning head of an animal (used derogatorily for humans).


While the Dutch words stijf or kop have never been adapted into Bahasa Indonesia, it is amusing that Indonesians DO USE the same expression to describe a “stubborn person.”

In Bahasa Indonesia we say: Keras kepala (keras meaning stiff + kepala meaning head).

So there you have just a small sampling of the thousands of words which have come into the Indonesian language by way of the Dutch. And we hope that, along the way, you have gained some insight into Dutch-Indonesian history as well.


Please be sure to check out our upcoming article: INDONESIAN LOANWORDS FROM ENGLISH.


Until then . . .


Selamat Belajar!

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