Indonesian
Posted: 19 July 2010 03:42 AM   [ Ignore ]
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It’s interesting learning the Indonesian language because it has such a complex history. It is an Austronesian language but contains many words borrowed or derived from Dutch, Portuguese, Arabic, Sanskrit, Chinese and of course English. Learning it can be like find a series of Easter eggs.

The word for two is dua, but it is on its own: that’s the only number under a billion that is derived from the Indo-European languages.

Awas means “be careful”: is it related to Avast? I don’t know. Raja means king, which is from the Sanskrit. Ijazah (diplomat) must be connected to the Arabic word Ijaz.

Just thought I’d share my experiences.

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Posted: 19 July 2010 06:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The word for two is dua, but it is on its own: that’s the only number under a billion that is derived from the Indo-European languages.

It’s not “derived from the Indo-European languages,” it’s just a coincidence, as are most such resemblances.  (Insert standard warning against amateur etymology here.)

Raja and ijazah are indeed ultimately from Sanskrit and Arabic.

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Posted: 19 July 2010 09:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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FWIIW Malay and Indonesian are virtually the same. The Thai and Lao languages are called ‘pasar’ explained here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bahasa.
From my visits to Malaysia it is clear they have no problem with English loanwords (which I may have mentioned before) and simplify the spelling. Lori (truck), feri (ferry), bas (bus) which I got from signs. Paspot (passport), syampu (shampoo), pensel (pencil) - I looked those three up. You see yellow school buses much like in American films too labelled ‘Bas Sekolah’.
They both have Latin and Arabic scripts like Turkish with some Muslims favouring a revival of the Arabic.

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Posted: 19 July 2010 12:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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The Jewish Passover Hagadah has a passage about four sons. Regarding one of these, it enjoins us: “....and the one who doesn’t know how to ask --- you explain to him”. I think OP Tipping (like all of us) is entitled to be told more than just “tain’t so” --- for instance, that “two” is also “dua” in Malay, a language related to Indonesian, and possibly in some more (certainly not all) of the numerous languages spoken in and around SE Asia. A flat contradiction, followed not by a word of explanation, but by a swipe at “amateur etymology”, savours of a put-down. We’re not all great experts, but I think we all come to this site entitled (and happy) to learn.

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Posted: 19 July 2010 01:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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venomousbede - 19 July 2010 09:56 AM

From my visits to Malaysia it is clear they have no problem with English loanwords … syampu (shampoo) …

Since “shampoo” was brought into English from Hindi ("probably adopted from Hindi champo, imperative of champna, to press”, according to the OED), this is a curious instance of a loanword that went west and then came back east …

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Posted: 19 July 2010 02:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Here is a table showing the word for “two” in lots of Austronesian languages.  It is “dua” or something similar in many of them, as Lionello suggests.  Wikipedia notes “The word for two is also stable, in that it appears over the entire range of the Austronesian family, but the forms (e.g. Bunun rusya, lusha; Amis tusa; Maori tua, rua) require some linguistic expertise to recognise.”

Clearly, though, Indonesian didn’t borrow an IE word for “two”, rather the IE and Austronesian ancestral words for “two” developed into similar-sounding words in many of their respective descendant languages.  This is almost certainly, as LH says, just a coincidence. (Though it’s hard not to feel an itch in the speculation neurons when you notice that in a fair number of these languages the word for “three” has the form t-r- (hyphens standing for vowels) or something like it.)

[ Edited: 19 July 2010 02:28 PM by Dr. Techie ]
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Posted: 19 July 2010 06:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Thank you, lh, for that correction.

EDIT
Any opinions on avast/awas?

Note that Bahasa Indonesia is the official language but it is not the native dialect of many people. People speak Batavian, Javanese, Sundanese etc, though nearly everyone can turn on the BI when required.

Similarly Bahasa Melayu is the official language of Malaysia, and again there is considerable variation in the real world.

They are both particular locations in the event space of “Greater Malay”, but the Malaysians and Indonesians won’t wear that: they insist that they can’t understand each other, but to me the differences seem trivial. Fairly regular changes in orthography, some vocab differences. It’s very political.

There is also an ethnicity called Malay. Some western Indonesians identify as Malay (as distinct from Malaysian). In Singapore, Malay is considered one of the major _racial_ groupings (the ID cards identify race) and most Indonesians are classed as racial Malays, much to their chagrin.

I get text messages from Jakartans that are straight out of Bladerunner.

gw otwke jco nak skali mw doong

gw (text abbreviation for gue, the slang Batavian word for I. The Bahasa Indonesian word would be saya.)
otwke (portmanteau between the initials of the English “on the way” with “ke” meaning to.)
jco (J-Co, a popular doughnut place)
nak (short for enak meaning yummy)
skali (text abbreviation for sekali, meaning very)
mw (text abbreviation for mau, meaning want)
doong (I don’t really know what this means: it’s an interjection. I think it is roughly equivalent to “right!” or “yeah baby!")

[ Edited: 19 July 2010 06:52 PM by OP Tipping ]
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Posted: 20 July 2010 05:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Any opinions on avast/awas?

Sorry, I forgot that one: no, they’re unrelated.  In general, you can assume any similarities like that you notice are coincidence unless there is an obvious cultural reason for borrowing (a commercial term, say).

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