Etymology of Malay barat

Dymn

Senior Member
Good evening,

Today I stumbled upon the word barat in Malay, which means "west", and immediately linked it with bharat, which means "India" in several Indian languages. Taking into account that Sanskrit has had a significant impact in Malay it seems likely that barat is one of those cases, but I haven't found any trustable site which states so. What do you know about it?

Thanks
 
  • Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    I have noticed this for a while, and given that the word for North (utara) is a clear Sanskrit loanword (Skt. uttara-), it is quite a tempting idea. However, the phonetic shape of the word does not agree well with the putative Sanskrit source "bhārata-". Note that the final short a of Sanskrit words, now commonly dropped in most North Indian languages (hence Bhārat), is not usually dropped in Malay/Indonesian, as "utara" demonstrates clearly along with loads of other examples. The Sanskrit initial "bh-" is also often retained in Malay/Indonesian as "bah-" (e.g. bahasa < bhāṣā, language), though a simple "b-" also occurs.

    Wikipedia provides a Proto-Austronesian etymology:
    Reconstruction:Proto-Austronesian/Sabaʀat - Wiktionary

    I suppose, we can accept it for the time being, unless someone has a better explanation.
     
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    Dib

    Senior Member
    Bengali (India)
    For a list of Sanskrit loanwords in Indonesian and "traditional" Malay, you may check this:
    http://sealang.net/archives/nusa/pdf/nusa-v41.pdf

    I took only a cursory glance. There seem to be a very small number of examples where a final short -a has been dropped, but they may have other explanations, e.g. anugerah. It may be from the Sanskrit stem "anugraha-" (favour) by losing the final a, or from the nominative singular form "anugrahaḥ" by losing the intervocalic h from aha. Both are possible. For parallel examples: "gajah" (elephant) seems to be from the nominative singular form (gajaḥ) rather than the stem (gaja-), and the loss of h between two a's in angkara (insolence) from Skt. ahaṃkāra. The only example without any ready alternative explanation that I stumbled upon is "angkus" (elephant-goad).
     
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