Welcome back to our five-part series on Bahasa Indonesia Loanwords
As with any language, Bahasa Indonesia has borrowed and adopted many words from other languages. In this second segment of our series, we will explore words brought to Indonesia by the Portuguese.
Just to give you a little background . . .
Jakarta's earliest history centres on the Port of Sunda Kelapa (near modern-day Fatahillah Square). The Port was settled in the fifth century by the Hindu Pajajaran Dynasty, and thrived on international spice trade (especially pepper) from the 1200s to the early 1500s.
Eventually, the Port of Sunda Kelapa caught the interest of the seafaring Portuguese, who, in 1522, secured an agreement with the Port. In exchange for military assistance against the threat of a rising Islamic Sultanate in Central Java, the King of Sunda granted the Portuguese free access to the pepper trade.
The Portuguese - never known for colonising territories - made no attempt to conquer the Port Town. They simply remained in the service of the sovereign and made their homes there.
The Portuguese left the Port of Sunda Kelapa in 1527, but they left behind many Portuguese words which today form part of the Indonesian language.
OF COURSE WE CANNOT COVER THEM ALL, BUT WE HAVE PICKED OUT A FEW WORDS
WHICH WE THOUGHT YOU MIGHT FIND INTERESTING.
1. MEJA & BANGKU
meja means table.
And bangku means bench.
The word meja comes from the Portuguese word mesa, with the same meaning.
And the word bangku comes from the Portuguese word banco which has the same meaning.
2. KEMEJA & SEPATU
kemeja means shirt.
And sepatu means shoes.
The word kemeja comes from the Portuguese word camisa, with the same meaning.
And the word sepatu comes from the Portuguese word sapato which has the same meaning.
3. RODA & KERETA
roda means wheel.
And kereta means a horse-pulled carriage or a railway train.
The word roda comes from the Portuguese word roda, with the same meaning.
And the word kereta comes from the Portuguese word carreta which refers to a simple two-wheeled cart or a trailer pulled by a truck.
4. MINGGU & MISA
Minggu means Sunday.
And misa means Catholic church service or “mass”.
The word Minggu comes from the Portuguese word Domingo, with the same meaning. .
And the word misa comes from the Portuguese word missa which has the same meaning.
Just a quick note :
as some of you may know, the Indonesian word Minggu can also refer to a full 7-day week.
5. GEREJA & MARTIR
gereja means Christian church.
And martir which refers to one who willingly accepts being put to death for adhering openly to her/his religious beliefs.
The word gereja comes from the Portuguese word igreja, with the same meaning.
And the word martir comes from the Portuguese word martir which has the same meaning.
And finally, let’s close with the word Flores.
If you are living here in Indonesia, you may know Flores as one of the largest islands of East Nusa Tenggara (sitting adjacent to the Komodo Islands).
In the 16th century, Portuguese missionaries came to this island. They established an extremely influential Dominican religious order, and the island has remained predominantly Catholic to this day.
As the eastern end of the Island is known for its beautiful flowering Delonix regia trees, these early Portuguese missionaries named the island Flores which means flowers in Portuguese.
If you speak Spanish, Italian, French, or one of the other Romance languages,
you may recognise some of the “Portuguese” words we’ve discussed as being very similar to words in your language as well.
But, the point is . . .
it is the Portuguese who brought these Latin-based words to Indonesia in centuries past,
and, therefore, it is the Portuguese who we credit for the contribution of these words.
So, there you have it.
You’ve learned a few Indonesian words which originate from Portuguese . . .
and, hopefully, you’ve picked up a little bit of Indonesian history along the way!!
Be sure to look for our upcoming article next week, when we’ll introduce you to some Indonesian loanwords which come from the Arabic and Persian languages of the Middle East.
Until then . . .