Origins of Indonesian `bahwa'

Robert E Englebretson reng at
Thu Mar 2 00:08:03 UTC 2000


I'm interested in any information on the historical origin and development
of the modern Indonesian word bahwa (which is generally understood to
introduce certain types of complement clauses).  Two references I have
checked claim it is from Sanskrit, but neither gives the Sanskrit root
from which it is allegedly derive.  One of the two sources claims it comes
from the Sanskrit word meaning 'essence', and the other claims it comes
from the Sanskrit word meaning "which in reality; in fact."  Any ideas
what the original Sanskrit root might have been?  (I've also checked a
1978 reference by Russell Jones entitled "Arabic Loan Words in
Indonesian"--which also lists some Persian borrowings--but there is no
mention of bahwa.)  There is also a more "literate" form, bahwasanya,
which is now very rare/archaic, but likely was shortened.

I'm also interested if any work has been done tracing its development into
a complementizer.  Are there any attested occurrences of bahwa in earlier
stages of Malay, or in other modern varieties, with a different function
(i.e. besides introducing clauses)?

Thanks for any relevant references or suggestions.

--Robert Englebretson
Dept. of Linguistics
University of California Santa Barbara

More information about the An-lang mailing list