Sanskrit in Tagalog

Waruno Mahdi mahdi at FHI-Berlin.MPG.DE
Wed Nov 24 21:35:03 UTC 1999


You've put forward a lot of interesting points, I'll only comment the
part on Tagalog and other Philippine involvement in the shipping and

I think periodization here is very important, because different
processes were taking place at different times. For the earliest period
you'll probably like to consult the just as informative as voluminous
Dr. thesis of Laura Junker (1990, Long-Distance Trade and the Development
of Socio-Political Complexity in Philippine Chiefdoms of the First
Millennium to Mid-Second Millennium A.D., Univ. of Michigan; UMI #9116212).

I don't think there was notable transit traffic through the Philippines
before the 3rd/4th century AD, and expatriate shipping at that time probably
mainly came from Southeast China (one destination of Southeast Chinese
navigation, previously assumed to have been the Moluccas, seems to have
meanwhile been identified with a place in South Philippines). The
sailors were probably not Han Chinese (a chronicle from the Han dynasty
talks about "merchant ships of the Man and Yi barbarians"; perhaps
Austronesians settled on the Southeast China coast?).

In the 3rd century there was a major change, caused by the success of
Funan (in presentday Cambodia) to apparently bring the perimeter of the
Gulf of Siam and southern end of the South China Sea under its paramountcy.
This caused Malay shipping (I mean such of sailors who spoke dialects of
Malay, including negrito Orang Lauts from the Riau Islands area) sailing
to China to divert to a roundabout sailing route through the Java Sea, the
Strait of Makassar, the Sulawesi Sea, and the Philippines. It appears that
at least some significant Malay borrowings from this period do not have
postglottalization of final vowel, e.g. Tagalog _dawa_ "foxtail millet" <
< [Old] Malay _jawa_ "grain [particularly sorghum and foxtail millet]" <
< Pali _java_ "barley, grain" [local compound reflexes mean "sorghum"] <
< Sanskrit _yava_ "barley". (the shift "sorghum" > "grain" > "foxtail
millet" seems to have taken place in West Indonesia, so we may safely
dismiss possible immediate borrowing of an Indic precursor into Tagalog;
in much later periods, Malay sailors probably carried rice instead of
foxtail millet as starch staple so this sets a time limit).

The exact nature of contacts of this period, and also the exact ethnic
identity of the contacting partners are still not quite clear. There
was a tendency of groups involved in the contacts to adopt names of
prestigious culture centers they learned of, and one intriguing fact
is the coincidence for Central-Sumatran and Luzon Highlanders to adopt
such names of Indic origin (e.g. the Kalingas of Luzon). It is not
clear to me whether the Tagalogs were already settled where they are now.
A lot of contacts of that time was apparently being done by peoples
of the Orang Laut-Sea People / sama Bajau type. Perhaps the Tagalogs
originally were one such ethnicity (their word for an administrative
area seems to derive from a word for "boat").

Subsequently, names of prestigeous Malay polities also served as
precursors, cf. the Kendari of SE Sulawesi, the Bisaya of Sabah and of
Central Philippines. As Sri Vijaya (from which > Bisaya) rose to power
around 780 A.D., that gives us a rough chronological landmark. That's
also the time of Yijing's visits to Sumatra, the Chinese Buddhist monk
you mentioned. Interesting, that _bisaya_ too is not postglottalized.
But all this is before the Butuan embassy to China (was their capital
already Beijing then?). Now about afterwards:

Another pattern again forms after the center of power in the Archipelago
shifted from the Malayic Sumatrans to Central Java. By the time the Central
Javanese Majapahit empire was at the peak of its power in the 14th century,
the brisk Malay-languaged maritime trade activity in the Archipelago had
somehow culturally "detached" itself from the Hindu-Javanese center, and
a host of islamic polities established themselves on the trade routes.
This included Brunei with its post-glottalizing dialect of Malay, and
also Banjarmasin (where Banjarese is spoken). And when Pigafetta sailed
through the Philippines with Magellan (who got killed fighting against
the Cebuanos), he noted that Luzon was at that time a vassal of the Sultan
of Brunei. So this somehow suggests that the mass of borrowings with
postglottalization of final vowels may have taken place in this period.

As Old Javanese was still functioning in Java as scholarly/literary
language, and the Javanese court held suzerainty over the sultanates,
it is possible that Old Javanese written forms with fossilized "correct"
reflexion of Sanskrit aspirations were also imposing themselves on
contemporary Malay official epistolary style in various sultanates.

But, if the Tagalogs themselves had earlier been sailing up and down
like Sama-Bajaus do, who knows where or when exactly they contacted
the donor language of such borrowings (in the 19th century, Bajaus even
sailed as far south as Australia, and as far east as North Maluku).

You quite correctly point to Tagalog shipbuilding I think, though here
too one must pay attention to periodization of various ship types. I'm
not so well informed about the situation in the Philippines, except that
an early word for large merchant ship of some Malay dialect _padau_
(cognate with Javanese _perahu_ now borrowed in Malay too) seems to have
been borrowed as Tagalog _pa[rao]_ "large passenger or cargo sailboat".
It is difficult to time the loan, because the precursor is only retained
in Malay in the expression _layar padau_ "storm sail" (a sail which
only occurred on very large ships). In the the Sri Vijaya period,
large ships were called _sambau_, perhaps a loan from Khmer in period
of Funan paramountcy. Before the Funan period, the word for large
ship was apparently *_hawang_, retained in the Sri Vijaya period only in
the expression _puhawang_ "shipmaster". So possibly, the borrowing of
_padau_  was from the "unaccounted" interim period between Sri Vijayan
Old Malay epigraphy, and the Malay of the surviving Classical Malay
Jawi-script manuscripts, when the word for large ships had already been
_jung_ (since as early as Marco Polo).

Tagalog shipbuilding continued well into the Spanish period. A Dutch
exploratory expedition through the Lesser Sunda islands led by Prof.
Reinwardt in 1821 used a ship which was refered to as a "brig" of around
200 ton displacement that had been built in Manila. A drawing of the
ship lying at anchor before Kupang (West Timor) by Bik who took part
in the expedition, is reproduced by Bea Brommer (1979, Reizend door Oost-
Indie. Prenten en verhalen uit de 19e eeuw. Utrecht - Antwerpen: Spectrum;
see there p. 96). It is a typical indigenous-built sailing ship of the
type known in Java at that time as _paduakang_ (I saw some models in the
Nusantara museum in Delft): fat "unstreamlined" hull, pair of quarter
rudders (one rudder on each side), two tripod masts, tent-like make-shift
roof over the length of the deck (the hull was much bulkier than of the
South Sulawesi type ships of that period also used by Europeans, which also
had a much more upwards surging after deck; and it carried no outriggers
the way Madurese-type ships did, used by Europeans as well).

My apologies to other subscribers, that this has gotten so long again.
Hope there was at least something of interest for the others in all this.

Aloha,  Waruno

P.S. that Bob Blust reference was correct. The cukra > cuka > sukaq
and upavasa > puasa examples are from Sander Adelaar (1994, Malay and
Javanese Loanwords in Malagasy, Tagalog and Siraya (Formosa), Bijdragen
tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 150:50-65, see there pp.55 & 63) who
proved Malay intermediacy of loans into Malagasy a.o. with it. Your
example with Skt. _buddhi_ is also there (p. 63). I took over the former
examples with more Philippine reflexes in (1999, Linguistic and
philological data towards a chronology of Austronesian activity in India
and Sri Lanka, pp. 160-242 in Roger Blench & Matthew Spriggs [eds.],
Archaeology and Language IV. London - New York: Routledge;
see there p. 224).

Waruno Mahdi                  tel:   +49 30 8413-5411
Faradayweg 4-6                fax:   +49 30 8413-3155
14195 Berlin                  email: mahdi at
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