Trade Between Makassar and Arnhem Land

Last month, while watching Ten Canoes (via Netflix), a docudrama tale of traditional life among the Yolngu people of Arnhem Land in Australia’s far north (charmingly narrated by the familiar voice of David Gulpilil), I recognized two Malay loanwords in the dialog: balanda ‘white people’ and rupiah ‘money’. The former comes from the Malay word for the Dutch and other Europeans, Belanda < Hollanders. (A common Malay-language name for the long-nosed Proboscis monkey is monyet Belanda ‘Dutch monkey’.)

After hearing these loanwords, I thought, “Aha! Evidence of Malay contact with Australia during the Dutch colonial period.” But now I see that this contact has already been well documented.

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Filed under Australia, economics, Indonesia, language, Netherlands

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