[tex-hyphen] should bahasa be a synonym for Indonesian?

Jonathan Kew jfkthame at googlemail.com
Wed Nov 27 17:03:35 CET 2013

On 27/11/13 15:01, Philip Taylor wrote:
> Jonathan Kew wrote:
>> Actually, it may be. Yes, it is clearly a Malay word (derived from
>> Sanskrit or Pali or whatever...) meaning "language", but in English it
>> can be used by itself as a language name. As the Oxford English
>> Dictionary defines it:[1]
>>> Bahasa, n.  The variety of Malay used as the national language of the
>>> Republic of Indonesia (Bahasa Indonesia) or of Malaysia (Bahasa
>>> Malaysia).
> Much as I am grateful for your support in this, I do think in fairness
> I should point out that (a) the OED goes on to say "Also ellipt.", and
> (b) of the 10 citations given, only one uses "Bahasa" in stand-alone
> mode rather than as a generic term (meaning [the] [national] language
> [of]) followed by a country name.  Thus I suspect that UNESCO were
> in fact using the word elliptically in the context quoted.

Yes, that's entirely possible, although the OED does define the 
"standalone" word. Still, I'm familiar with this use of "bahasa" alone 
from plenty of other contexts, too (sorry, I don't have citations on 
hand) - though it could reasonably be argued that they're all examples 
of elliptical usage.

If such an elliptical usage becomes sufficiently well-established, 
however, surely it has the effect of creating a new definition of the 
shortened term. I'd suggest that the same thing has happened to the word 
"American", for example, via the phrase "American English".


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