Dutch loanwords in Northern Sulawesi

Door Christopher Joby

Bahasa Indonesia (literally ‘language of Indonesia’) is a form of Malay used as a language of wider communication (LWC) in the Indonesian archipelago. Alongside this LWC, many other language varieties are spoken across the archipelago. The Dutch were more active in some parts of the archipelago than others and for longer, and so some of these varieties contain Dutch loanwords not found in Bahasa Indonesia.

Manado Malay is a Malay creole spoken by more than 500,000 in Manado in north Sulawesi. Furthermore, Prentice argues that it is spoken by many millions more as a second language across this region. The Dutch were active there from the mid-seventeenth century until the mid-twentieth century and as a result there was much language contact between Dutch and Manado. Nicoline van der Sijs writes that there are in fact more than 1,000 Dutch loanwords in Manado, three hundred of which are not found in Bahasa Indonesia. Christian missionary activity in the area means that some Dutch loanwords in Manado are Christian terms such as dominee (minister) and gebed (prayer). Prentice adds to these the term borgo from the Dutch burger (citizen) used to refer to those who speak Manado as a first language.

Another language spoken on Sulawesi is Gorontalo. Prentice writes that it has loanwords from Manado which in turn came from Dutch. For example, a Dutch loan word in Manado is koi (bed) from the Dutch kooi (bunk). This appears in Gorontalo as koyi. Another Dutch loanword in Manado is klom from klomp (clog). Gorontalo has adopted this as kolomu.

Jack Prentice (1994). ‘Manado Malay: Product and Agent of Language Change’, Language Contact and Change in the Austronesian World, eds. T. Dutton and D.T. Tryon. New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 411-441.
Nicoline van der Sijs, Nederlandse Woorden Wereldwijd. The Hague: SDU, 2010, p. 95.

Dit stukje verscheen eerder op Christopher Joby’s eigen blog.

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5 Responses to Dutch loanwords in Northern Sulawesi

  1. Manadonese is exactly why I stopped collecting Dutch loanwords in Bahasa Indonesia. When I moved to Yogyakarta in 1992, I thought it would be a very original idea to make a list of Dutch loanwords. It was pretty easy to compile such a list from daily conversations and billboards. And then I asked Indonesians who still spoke Dutch for suggestions. An elderly lady from Menado mentioned “perek”, but told me, I shouldn’t use it. Why not, I wondered, “it means `drop dead’ (verrek in Dutch). But more importantly, she told me it was only used in Manado. That’s when I realised a lot of words I collected were not Bahasa Indonesia at all, like “pit” (fiets in Dutch, Javanese). I gave up.

  2. Operation X schreef:

    It would be interesting to investigate whether some Frisian works have been adopted in the indigenous languages of Indonesia as well. I am not aware of any (recent) investigations on this. If there are any, I would like it to be brought to my attention.

  3. Chris Joby schreef:

    I’m glad to see your responses to a blog I originally posted. Clearly there is more work to be done on the Dutch influence on Manadonese, particularly it is now spoken across Northern Sulawesi. Do drop me a line at the email address below if you have information on this subject.- Chris Joby – christopherjoby@gmail.com

    • Chris: Clearly there is more work to be done on the Dutch influence on Manadonese

      But it will be an immensely complicated job. The direct influence of Dutch on Manadonese stopped decades ago, of course. But I bet Manadonese has been heavily influenced by Bahasa Indonesia since then (radio, TV, press). And although I don’t think there’s much direct influence of Bahasa Jawa on Manadonese, Javanese does influence Bahasa Indonesia. So you can have a Manadonese loanword from Dutch via Bahasa Indonesia from Javanese. It’d give me a headache.

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