etymology of BELIAN

Paul Kroeger pkroeger at
Sat Jul 21 18:28:20 UTC 2001

The Dusunic languages of Sabah (northeast Borneo) have "boboliyan"
(or cognate forms) for a spirit medium or shaman, mostly female, who
perform rituals for healing, fertility, etc.  I don't know the
etymology, but I wonder if Jack Prentice ever wrote about that??
(Note: the /o/ in Dusunic is the reflex of PAN schwa.)

-- Paul Kroeger
At 11:32 PM -0400 7/20/01, Paz B. Naylor wrote:
>Does anyone know the word BELIAN 'spirit medium' - and its
>etymology/original literal meaning?
>According to Dr. Penelope Flores (San Francisco State University),
>this is what the Tagalog word BABAYLAN 'priestess' came from.
>In 1984, I was informed that the Fijian WAQA 'boat' when
>reduplicated, WAGAWAGA means 'spirit medium'.  This makes me wonder
>if BELIAN (> *BAILAN) also had a literal meaning that, upon partial
>reduplication,  served as a metaphor for 'medium of transport for
>the spirit'.
>Another question:  was the role of spirit medium restricted to women?
>Thank you in advance for any information on these matters.  Paz

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