07 February 2010

Trade Between Makassar and Arnhem Land

Last month, while watching Ten Canoes (via Netflix), a docudrama tale of traditional life among the Yolngu people of Arnhem Land in Australia's far north (charmingly narrated by the familiar voice of David Gulpilil), I recognized two Malay loanwords in the dialog: balanda 'white people' and rupiah 'money'. The former comes from the Malay word for the Dutch and other Europeans, Belanda < Hollanders. (A common Malay-language name for the long-nosed Proboscis monkey is monyet Belanda 'Dutch monkey'.)

After hearing these loanwords, I thought, "Aha! Evidence of Malay contact with Australia during the Dutch colonial period." But now I see that this contact has already been well documented.


Nick said...

See also: Nick Evan. 1992. Macassan loanwords in top end languages. Australian Journal of Linguistics, Volume 12, Issue 1 June 1992 , pages 45 - 91.
Urry, J. and M. Walsh. 1981. The Lost 'Macassan' Language of Northern Australia, Aboriginal His-
tory 5, 91-108.
Walker, A. and D. Zorc. 1981.Austronesian Loanwords in Yolngu-Matha of Northeast Arnhem
Land, Aboriginal History 5, 109-134.

David said...

Hi there, if you're interested, I wrote a brief blog post on this subject myself: