Balanda
Posted: 13 October 2008 12:17 AM   [ Ignore ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3109
Joined  2007-02-26

I may have posted on this before: my searches indicate I have not, but if I have, I am sorry.

The word Balanda has an interesting history.

Some plain old “history” history might also be in order, first.

Before colonisation by Europeans, the Australian mainland was solely populated by people that are now called aboriginal Australians or aborigines, speaking hundreds of languages, all of one family but not generally mutually intelligible, and near as we can tell not related to any other language family.

The people of Australia’s coastal north had considerable contact with people from the islands to north, the Malay archipelago. It is thought that the Macassans, based in Celebes, were fishing for trepang (sea cucumber) along the north coast of Australia from early in the 2nd millennium AD, and selling the dried trepang to the Chinese. Macassan is part of the Sunda-Sulawesi language family, as is Malay. There is considerable evidence of influence of these visitors on the aboriginal people of the north-east coast of the Northern Territory (Arnhem land).

During the 16th century, the Dutch began to trade in earnest in the Malay archipelago, and eventually became quite established. The word “Belanda” and similar forms is apparently a corruption from Hollander (which ultimately is from Germanic roots meaning forested land). Belanda was the word meaning Dutchman in Malay and in other languages of that region.

In the 1600s the Dutch explored northern Australia extensively, and the first contact between Aborigines and the Dutch is usually said to have occurred in 1616, but all in all there was not much contact before the Dutch gave up completely on Australia.

Starting in the late 1700s the British began to found permanent colonies in Australia, and through the 1800s exploration of the interior was carried out by various intrepid folks, including the Prussian-born Ludwig Leichhardt, who reported that the word that the aborigines in Arnhem Land used to mean “white person” was Balanda.

This word is still used in much this way among the Yolngu people of Arnhem land, whether speaking Yolngu Matha or English. It is mainly thought that the word was borrowed from the Macassan language, rather than arising because of the contact between aborigines and the Dutch.

Edited: clarification

[ Edited: 13 October 2008 04:51 AM by OP Tipping ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 October 2008 03:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2021
Joined  2007-02-19

The word Balanda has an interesting history

It does indeed. I have a question: does the word have a pejorative connotation, at all?  I think that in most lands, the words used to refer to “not-one-of-us” eventually develop negative overtones ("gringo", “Frank"), even if they may not have had them to begin with.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 14 October 2008 03:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3109
Joined  2007-02-26

I couldn’t say that it is _never_ used pejoratively, but it is for some people the general term.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 22 December 2012 06:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3109
Joined  2007-02-26

I said:

Before colonisation by Europeans, the Australian mainland was solely populated by people that are now called aboriginal Australians or aborigines, speaking hundreds of languages, all of one family but not generally mutually intelligible, and near as we can tell not related to any other language family.

This wasn’t quite correct. The great bulk of remaining Australian languages are in the Pama–Nyungan family but there are dozens of non-Pama-Nyungan languages. The language I referred to in the OP, Yolngu Matha, is a Pama–Nyungan language.

Profile
 
 
   
 
 
‹‹ the Reverend      ed - [delete] ››