INDONESIAN LOANWORDS FROM SANSKRIT

Updated: Jun 23

As happens in every language, Bahasa Indonesia has borrowed and adopted many words from other languages. Through the years, the Indonesian archipelago has been host to many cultural interchanges which have left their marks on Bahasa Indonesia.


One of the major contributors to the Indonesian language has been Sanskrit. In this article, we will take a bite-sized look at the significance of the ancient Sanskrit language on today’s Bahasa Indonesia.


Before the first century, Ancient Sanskrit was brought to Indonesia by Indian Hindus and Buddhists who used the Sanskrit language in the propagation of their faiths.


Today, Bahasa Indonesia is comprised of so many Sanskrit words that most Indonesian people no longer perceived them as foreign at all.


THERE ARE FAR TOO MANY WORDS TO MENTION HERE,

BUT WE HAVE PICKED OUT A FEW THAT YOU MIGHT FIND INTERESTING.

1. GURU & SISWA


guru means teacher in Bahasa Indonesia.

And siswa means student.


The word guru comes from the Sanskrit word guru गुरु , with the same spelling and meaning.

And the word siswa comes from the Sanskrit word sisva शिष्य having the same meaning.

2. SUAMI & ISTRI


suami means husband in Bahasa Indonesia.

And istri means wife.


The word suami comes from the Sanskrit word svamin स्वामिन् meaning lord, master, and husband.

And the word istri comes from the Sanskrit word stri स्त्री, meaning wife and bearer of children.

3. WANITA & PRIA


wanita means woman or lady in Bahasa Indonesia.

And pria means man


The word wanita comes from the Sanskrit word vanita वनिता with the same meaning. 

And the word pria comes from Sanskrit word priya प्रिया meaning beloved, dear.

4. PURI & KOTA


puri means castle or palace in Bahasa Indonesia.

And kota means city.


The word puri comes from the Sanskrit word pura पुर meaning castle, fortress, walled enclosure

And the word kota comes from the Sanskrit word kotta कोट्ट meaning city or stronghold.

5. BAHASA


bahasa means language in Indonesian.


Ironically, the word bahasa comes from the Sanskrit word bhasa भाषा which refers to vulgar vernacular speech (as opposed to refined Sanskrit speech).


As most of you probably already know, it really doesn’t make much sense when somebody says that they can ”speak Bahasa.” Given that the word bahasa simply means language, the statement, "I know how to speak bahasa," would translate as, ”I know how to speak a language.


One would have to say, ”I can speak Bahasa Indonesia.” (meaning the language of Indonesia) OR ”I can speak Bahasa Perancis.” (the language of France) OR ”I can speak Bahasa Inggris.” (the language of England), etc.


But again, if you have lived in Indonesia for any period of time, you certainly know this by now!!

We hope this blog has given you a bit of insight into ancient Sanskrit as well as Bahasa Indonesia.


Be sure to check out our upcoming blog : INDONESIAN LOANWORDS FROM PORTUGUESE when we will explore Indonesian loanwords from the Portuguese language. 


Until then . . . 


Selamat Belajar!!

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