(Holiday Blog) : How Portuguese influences us?

Source : here

Portuguese is a Romance branch language spoken originally in westernmost edge of Iberia peninsula. It looks like sister language with Galician/Galego, great similarities to Spanish (as many similar spellings but different pronunciations) and distant similarities to other Romance languages. The Portuguese language is spoken as mother tongue by 215 million people and totally 250 million speakers (along with L1 and L2 speakers). Most of Portuguese speakers are in Brazil (202,656,788 people) while others scattered mostly in Africa, Portugal, some in East Timor, Macau and other ex Portuguese dependencies.


Source : here

Indonesia, my country, is located between two oceans and two continents which makes it very strategic and ideal for many influences come, go, meet, and melt together.

I don’t want to talk deeper about Portuguese itself, but refer to its heritage particularly in Nusantaran languages. How Portuguese influences us? Surely through what they say Gold, Gospel and Glory. Colonization along with trading spices brought Portuguese sailed into Nusantara archipelagos. Portuguese colonized many areas of Nusantara such as in the Moluccas, Timor, Adonara, Solor, Flores, parts of Sulawesi, Malacca, Pasai until Batavia during the 16th-17th centuries before ceded to Dutch and British much later.

Surely Portuguese heritages in language can be traced back. During the 17-18th centuries, a Creolized Portuguese was Batavia’s lingua franca before replaced by a kind of Low Malay, then the creoles (Tugu creole) survived until 1978 when the last fluent speaker died, and all Portuguese descendants of Tugu residents (Mardijkers), Jakarta do not speak it anymore. The Portuguese descendants in Malacca, Malaysia still speak a kind of Portuguese creole called Papia Kristang. Around Nusantara languages, Portuguese tracks are still recognizeable. Tetun Prasa (a standardized Tetun, and one of Timor Leste’s official language) has got heavy Portuguese loan words, meanwhile Tetun Terik has much less Portuguese lexicons. In other Eastern Indonesia languages, Portuguese words are also prevalent with slight pronunciation shift or semantical change. Let me give some examples of Portuguese loan words found in several Indonesia languages.

Cendhela (Javanese) – janela – window
Gendhera (Javanese)- bandeira – flag
Ose (Ambonese Malay) – voce – you
Gargantang (Ambonese Malay)-garganta – throat
Kadera (Manado, Ambonese & Others)-cadeira-chair
Kawayo, kawalo, kabalow -cavalho – horse
Balenso (Ambonese/Manado)-balanco – to swing
Tuturuga (Ambonese/Manado)-tartaruga – tortoise
Pombo (Ambonese) – pombo – dove

While in our national language, Bahasa Indonesia, Portuguese has got many places in our vocabularies.
Algojo -algoz-executor
Almari/lemari- armario – closet
Arena – arena – field
Aula -aula – class (but in Indonesia means hall)
Akta – acta – act

Bangku- banco – seat
Belanda- Holanda – Holland
Beledu/beludru – veludo-velvet
Beranda – varanda – veranda
Bendera – bandeira- flag
Biola – viola – violin
Bola – bola – ball
Bolu – bolo – cake
Boneka – boneca- doll

Dadu – dado – dice
Dansa – danca – dance

Garpu – garfo – fork
Gereja – igreja – church

Jendela -janela – window

Kaldu – caldo – broth
Kanon – canon – cannon
Kapitan – capitao – captain
Kartu – cartao – card
Kasur – colchao – bed
Keju – queijo – cheese
Kemeja – camisa – shirt

Lelang – leilao-auction
Lemari – armario- closet
Limau – limao – lemon
Lampion – lampeao-lamp

Mandor – mandador- supervisor
Markisa – maracuja – passion fruit
Meja – mesa – table
Mentega – manteiga – butter
Meski – mas que – even though
Minggu – domingo – Sunday
Misa – misa – sunday service

Natal – natal – Christmas
Nona – dona/menina – girl
Nyonya – donha – mrs

Palsu – falso – fake
Paderi – padre – priest
Paskah – pascoa – easter
Peluru/pelor – pellouro/boleiro – bullet
Pena – pena – pen
Pesiar – passear – having trip
Pesta – festa – party
Pigura – figura – frame
Pita – fita – ribbon


Sabtu – sabado-saturday
Saku-saco – pocket
Sekolah -escola – school
Sepatu – sapato – shoes
Serdadu – soldadu – army

Tanjidor – tangedor- music ensemble
Tapioca- tapioca-tapioca
Tenda – tenda – tent
Tempo – tempo – time
Terigu – trigo – flour
Tinta – tinta – ink
Tukar – trocar-exchange

Besides those, some Indonesians particularly in East Indonesia, and small  minority in Jakarta (Portuguese slave descendants who were freed by Dutch after converting to Protestantism and called mardijkers) still retain their Portuguese surnames such as :
Da Silva, Dos Santos, Fereira, Quiko, De Fretes (Freitas), Queljoe (Coelho), Fernandes, Riberu (Ribeiro), Lupis, Diaz, Gomez and more.

Nusantara lies in a cross-section area where anything comes and leaves track as the heritage and Portuguese is also part of the influence.

29 December 2016



11 Comments Add yours

  1. Hi Bambang, It is very interesting to do this kind of comparisons between languages. I am a fan of it. I find it funny that in Indonesia, you use Tinta when you mean Ink, exactly as we do in Spanish. Also we share the words Misa, Bola and Armada, according to your list. And your word Dansa is in Spanish Danza. So now I know some words in Indonesian language!

    1. Gracias….yes, Spaniards only arrived for a while in Indonesia, they only left very little thing here. But in Manado city, North Sulawesi, there is a neighbourhood called ‘Kema’ which drived from ‘Quemar’..and some words in Manado Malay can be tracked from Spanish though very few. As Spaniards only colonized for a moment before ceded to Dutch.

      1. You are right. I am sure Spaniards left a footprint in Filipino language instead! I am enjoying very much your blog, and love language related posts. Hope you enjoy my new post about San Marino as well. Cheers!

      2. In Filipino? sure!…there is a creolized Spanish spoken in Zamboanga city called Chavacano as well as Caviteno and Ternateno creoles. You can watch it in TV Patrol Chavacano via youtube…but, it’s no longer purely Spanish as mixed up with English, Filipino, Cebuano and surrounding languages. 😀

      3. Oh I need to check that in Youtube! Thanks for the information!

      4. Check and compare it with the Spanish.

  2. 365 cidades says:

    omg I’m portuguese and I had no idea we had so many similar words, that’s awesome!

    1. Hi, thanks for visiting 🙂 Como vai?

  3. FIDA L says:

    thats right, what do you thing about pilipino language?

    1. Many words are identical to ours as we’re from the same roots. But in this case, more Spanish words in it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s