[An-lang] FYI: foeja 'bark cloth' (revisted) and alfoer 'savage'

David Mead david_mead at sil.org
Mon Mar 21 06:40:04 UTC 2005


This is not a request for information, but rather an update.

First of all, I wrote to the list back in January asking if anyone knew the
etymology of the Dutch word foeja (modern Indonesian spelling fuya) meaning
'bark cloth'.  The short answer is that it is a corruption of the Minahasan
word wuyang 'woman's sarong'.  Paul Geraghty sent me the details a while
ago, but did not copy the entire list.  Since at least one other person has
requested this infromation, I've included Paul's complete response below,
as others of you may also find it useful--especially about where to find
the VOC Glossarium online.

Second, and apart from the list, I had also been pursuing the etymology of
the Dutch word Alfoer, an exonym which has been used to describe
inhabitants of both interior Celebes and interior New Guinea--usually with
negative connotations, and for this reason the word seems to have passed
out of usage around the turn of the 20th century.  Since this word had also
entered the English language, I had some etymological speculations already
at my disposal.  Webster's Third New International indicates the word is of
Malayo-Polynesian provenance:

alfur, n. -s, usu cap [Sp alfur, alfor, fr. Pg alforro, of
Malayo-Polynesian origin; akin to Indonesian alifuru] 1: any one of a group
of aboriginal peoples of mixed ancestry inhabiting interior regions of the
Moluccas and parts of Celebes; 2: a member of an Alfur people.

The Oxford English Dictionary, on the other hand, indicates a merger of
Arabic and Portuguese:

alfur [ad. Pg. alfuori 'the outsider,' f. Arab. al the + fuori outside:L.
foribus out of door, fores doors. (R.N. Cust.)]
     A member of a race or group of races in Celebes and the surrounding
islands, distinct from the Malay and Negrito, but perhaps intermediate
between them. Hence Alfurese a.  1878 CUST Mod. Langs. E. Ind. 147 The
seven Alfurese languages of
which we have vocabularies. 1879 Syd. Soc. Lex. Alfurian Race: the Alfurs.
1881 A. KEANE in Nature XXIII. 251 The fusion of yellow, white, and black
produces the so-called 'Alfuros' in the East.

However, as a colleague of mine noted, Van Baarda's 1895 Een
Galelareesch-Hollandsche Woordenlijst ('s-Gravenhage: Martinus Nijhoff)
gives the following entry.  Here, Alfoer is ascribed to Tidore (a West
Papuan language).

Halefuru (o) of o Halefuru-ka ma nyawa, Alfoer: boschmensch, wilde (hale -
Tid - = land, furu = woest, wild: bewoners van het woeste land, van het
bosch).    [Halefuru (o) or o Halefuru-ka ma nyawa, Aflur: bushman, savage
(hale - Tidorese - = land, furu = wild, savage: inhabitants of the wild
lands, of the forest],

Everything considered, it strikes me that Van Baarda must be correct, and
that both Webster's and the OED simply got this one wrong.

Yours for what it's worth,

David Mead


>From: Paul Geraghty <geraghty_p at usp.ac.fj>
>To: "'David Mead'" <david_mead at sil.org>
>Subject: RE: [An-lang] etymology of foeja 'bark cloth'
>Date: Sun, 30 Jan 2005 17:21:18 -0000
>These are the entries from the 'VOC-glossarium':
>fuja, zie bij boskleedje.
>[fuja: go to 'boskleedje']
>boskleedje (gm5) . kleedje van geklopte boombast of fuja. Verbastering van
>de Minahassische term wujang = vrouwensarong.
>[dress of beaten bark or fuja. Corruption from the Minahassic[?] term
>wujang = woman's sarong]
>The 'glossarium' is available on the internet, but has also been published.
>Kooijmans, M. & J. Schooneveld-Oosterling
>2000  VOC-glossarium. Verklaring van termen, verzameld uit de
>Rijks Geschiedkundige Publicatien die betrekking hebben op
>de Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie. Den Haag: Instituut
>voor Nederlandse Geschiedenis.
>Hope this helps!
>-----Original Message-----
>From:   David Mead
>Sent:   Saturday, 29 January 2005 9:14 AM
>To:     an-lang at anu.edu.au
>Subject:        [An-lang] etymology of foeja 'bark cloth'
>I'm wondering if someone could tell me the etymology of the word "foeja", a
>(widespread?) term in the Dutch East Indies for bark cloth.  Following
>modernized Indonesian spelling, the word would now be written as
>"fuya".  Curiously, I've not found any Dutch or Indonesian dictionary which
>lays claim to this word.  Whilst the practice of making bark cloth has
>declined, people in many parts of Central Sulawesi at least still readily
>recognize the word "fuya", and are even a bit surprised to find out that
>it's not the 'official' Indonesian word for bark cloth (which is
>jeluang).  Indigenous words for bark cloth bear no resemblance to "fuya".
>Thanks much,
>David Mead
>An-lang mailing list
>An-lang at anu.edu.au
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/an-lang/attachments/20050321/31543ef3/attachment.htm>
-------------- next part --------------
An-lang mailing list
An-lang at anu.edu.au

More information about the An-lang mailing list