Barong, doh

Jim Rader jrader at
Thu Oct 4 19:36:50 UTC 2001

I'm hoping AN-LANGers can help with a couple of Austronesian-
area words for which we lack data.

The word <barong> has been used in English since U.S.
involvement in the Philippines in the 1890's to denote a kind of
machete-like knife used by Muslim peoples ("Moros") of the
southern Philippines.  This word or obvious variants exist in some
languages of Mindanao:  Maranao <barong> (in McKaughan &
Macaraya's _A Maranao Dictionary_) and, according to some very
old and perhaps questionable data in our files, in Bagobo <barong>
and Tiruray <badung>.  Presumably variants exist in languages of
the Sulu archipelago as well and perhaps in Borneo.  It also has an
obvious relation to Malay <parang> and words in some northern
Philippine languages (Ilocano <badang> and Pangasingan
<barang> according to material in our files).  Can anyone comment
on the ultimate origin of this word?  Has it diffused from Malay, or
are all forms descended from a single etymon in a branch of
Austronesian?  I see nothing like it in the etyma for "knife" in the
_Comparative Austronesian Dictionary_, but a barong isn't exactly
a simple knife.  Any information would be enlightening.

My second query concerns the word <doh>, which may not exist
in English outside of crossword puzzles.  It is supposedly the
Javanese word for the fiber of the gomuti palm, but I have no
Javanese sources at hand.  Can anyone confirm this?

My thanks--
Jim Rader

Jim Rader
Etymology Editor
Merriam-Webster, Inc.
47 Federal St., P.O. Box 281
Springfield MA 01102

More information about the An-lang mailing list