These pages are intended to hold various of my files on Indonesian languages. At the moment, there is only the questions below (addressed to the AN-List), which will probably be temporary; and a Timorese (Dawan) Wordlist. I hope these materials will prove useful.

(August 2004) In addition, I've uploaded a digitized version (thanks to B. P. Jonsson!) of the wordlist I devised for research in Indonesia back in the 1970s. It is at Wordlist (general). Warts and all, but correctly numbered, at least-- comments, suggestions, corrections are more than welcome. Plus (December 2012) my index of Stresemann's reconstructions


Problem words in Kisar (Rinnooy 1886, Maleisch-Kissersch Woordenlijst, TBG XXXI)

(August 2004. Happy to say, many of the questions below are moot, thanks to Aone van Engelenhoven.)

As we know, the printing in TBG is not always reliable.... Since the list was evidently prepared for publication by J.Brandes, it is unlikely Rinnooy ever had a chance to proof-read. There are many variant or inconsistent spellings in the Kisar material, as Brandes noted. He also took issue with the rather idiosyncratic spelling/usage of Rinnooy's Malay, which he assumed reflected Moluccan usage and pronunciation.

Working with this material, I found that most of the "oddly" spelled Malay words could be figured out, either because the Kis. glosses reflected known AN etyma, or, as in many cases, were cited in Jonker's 1932 Lettineesche Taalstudiën, or, sometimes, because they occurred with a Kis. or Ml. synonym elsewhere in the List. But with a few exceptions, none of the Kis. words here have related forms in Leti, Moa (Jonker) or Wetan (Josselin), nor in the other possible suspects, Tetum, Roti, Tanimbar or Stresemann's "Ur-Ambonese".The principal problem with the Malay involved the treatment of schwa-- often written either e or a, or as e,o harmonizing with the ultima vowel; and as i before or after a palatal.

The following Malay words, however, have totally eluded me, and I have had no ready access to good dictionaries for some time now. The comments contain my best guesses. (Note that I use here "ë" (e-umlaut) for Wilkinson's e-breve.)

Note too that in Kisar, /h/ and /k/ are the regular reflexes of *s and *t respectively; Kis. /s/ and /t/ (and a few /k/s) indicate loanwords.


  1. Ml. kikil--- Kis teter. The t's indicate a loan. Kikil not in E&S; Wilk. kikil ~kekel '1. extreme stinginess, 2. shaking with laughter'. One might also suspect borrowing of local titir 'drum, drumsticks'. In the Kamus Besar BI (2ed. 199l, Balai Pustaka) I found: kikil 'kulit kaki kerbau, sapi atau kambing', which seems unlikely.
  2. Ml. kintal--- Kis. mkoini or ?nikoini There is a break in the italic m-, so that it looks like "n" followed by an undotted i (seems unlikely)...The initial mk-/ is unique, indeed probably impossible as a Kis. initial cluster. E&S has kintal = kwintal '100 kgs.'; not in Wilk. I have also seen kintal glossed as Du. erf = farmyard. (Aug.2004: this apparently is the meaning; in their 1992 paper, the Christensens cite it as nikoin 'yard'. Thus, my reading "mkoini" can be ascribed to the quality of my Xerox copy, or to failing eyesight....)
  3. Ml. menotong--- Kis. posiedi With s almost certainly a loan. Probably base /posi/ + /edi/ 'trans.sfx'. Nothing in E&S or Wilk. resembles totong/notong; it is not tutung 'light a fire', as that is glossed elsewhere in the List.
  4. Ml. ngeroeng--- Kis. hoko Wilk.has ngërung ~ngëring 'sound of the clash of brass instruments'. In my "Additional Addenda" (NUSA 1981) #73, I proposed **( )ëRung 'drone, roar, buzz', perhaps relatable.
  5. Ml. oelei--- Kis. saka nawali saka is 'spoon' (and a likely loan with both s and k); na/wali could be 'to the side; go around; again' so that Klinkert's oelai 'stir up, roil' is a probable match. (Aug.2004: furthermore, E&S have uli, meng- 'to knead dough')
  6. Ml. semoekan--- Kis. raolu E&S and Wilk. agree on semu/kan 'deceive'; the Kis. appears to be ra/olu. Kis. olu also means 'to sell'-- homonyms? as there seems little relation otherwise. The pfx ra- is either '3d. plur.' or a causative prefix of some sort, seen on other items in the List
  7. .
  8. Ml. tjoepah--- Kis. oepate (i.e. /upate/, prob. /upat+e/ where -e is the def. or noml. marker). Apparently a loan, with t. Nothing resembling "tjoepah" in E&S or Wilk.
  9. Ml. wangowango--- Kis. (au) tanutu with "t", a borrowing in any case, probably a tree (au) name, possibly '(wooden) hammer, mallet' if tanutu is a nominalized /t-an-utu/ based on a borrowed "tutu" 'pound'
  10. Ml. litjat--- Kis. dilahe likely /dilah-e/. Possibly = BI lécét '1.chafed, 2.damp' or Wilk. lëchat ~lëchit 'extreme smoothness or slipperiness'. The latter best, if the Kis. is related (as a d- ~r- doublet) to Wetan (Josselin) nia-rela 'a snake sp.' (rela not otherwise defined). Both could regularly reflect an earlier ?*dilas
  11. Ml. gisar--- Kis. hari A word "hari" (**sari) also glosses 'clear, evident, open'. Perhaps merely a homonym. Cf. BI gésér 'shift; rub against, have friction' or Wilk. gisar 'to twist (trans. of kisar)'
  12. Ml. isang--- Kis. halaman (in the main Wordlist) --I take isang as a variant of isa, isya 'the prayer at early evening; early evening', in view of the likely variant occurrence "halamaka" 'hampir malam' in an example sentence at another entry. That form could correspond exactly to Ml. selamat, with native sound changes. Thus the form "halaman" would be a variant, or one of Rinnooy's many inconsistencies...The question would then be, how would borrowed selamat come to mean 'early evening ~toward nightfall' in Kis.?
  13. Ml. manimani--- Kis. pama -- presumably = BI/Ml manik2, thus 'jewel(s)'. Very unlikely = (Arab.) mani 'sperm'-- the missionary Rinnooy seems to have avoided all the naughty words.
  14. Ml. tapas, djikoe--- Kis. huhun (probably /huhu+n/, a possessed form) Local forms **susu(-n) suggest a meaning 'side, edge', with which BI tepas 'bamboo railing' may compare. Wilk. tëpas '1.brim-full, 2. (in a phrase) four quarters of the earth', of which the latter is suggestive. Neither source has /jiku/ or anything similar.
  15. Ml. oebat pasang--- Kis. mohon This word also glosses 'black', and may compare with Buli usang 'black'. Since pasang, inter alia, can mean 'set off ~fire a weapon', I suspect oebat pasang may be local for 'gunpowder'.
  16. Ml. tjomok--- Kis. losna There are several exs. of -sn- ~ -dn- for underlying /-dVn#/, it appears to be a common alternation in Kis. Thus "lodna" 'rattan' may be the same word? Cf. perh. BI cemuk 'hit with a stick; shake' (the other mng. 'pod' seems unlikely).
  17. Ml. tontoet--- Kis. doure probably /dour-e/. Perhaps BI tuntut 'demand; strive for; prosecute; pursue, aspire' or Wilk. 'follow in one's steps; pursue'; "tëntut" would be a possibility, but no such form is listed.

If anyone has any other ideas concerning the Malay forms, or perchance recognizes possible eastern IN cognates in the Kisar, I would like to hear about them. Replies may be sent to me at: rfmilly AT msn DOT com, or via the AN-List.