Sinopsis Bacan – English Dictionary
Bacan – English Dictionary
The linguistic and cultural situation of North Maluku has always been complex and multi-layered. The prehistoric peopling of the region, featuring two waves of incremental migrations, namely the Australo-Melanesian movements 40,000 years ago and the Austronesian migrations 4,000 years ago, laid the foundation for the diversity of this region (Collins 2014:49-50). The global demand for clove, the aromatic spice indigenous to North Maluku, began 2000 years ago and added new layers to language and ethnic diversity. This diversity was noted by the earliest observers, including a Portuguese resident of Ternate, A. Galvão, writing in 1544 (Jacobs 1971). Indeed, the population movements resulting from the wars, political rivalries, slave trade and punitive policies of the early colonial period increasingly complicated the inter-webbing of languages and cultures in the region.
Among all the languages of North Maluku, the language of Bacan remains among the least studied. Indeed, in Taber (1996) Bacan was not even considered a language of North Maluku . However, for two hundred years, Bacan, its rulers and inhabitants held a significant place in the earliest documentation of the region beginning with the Malay letter of 1521 written in Ternate, describing Bacan’s conflict with the Portuguese (Blagden 1930, Collins 2018:28). Valentyn’s (1724) compendium of Maluku included a copy of a letter written by the sultan of Bacan. However, despite all that history and documentation, the Bacan language itself only began to be mentioned in the nineteenth century
Perhaps the earliest documentation of the Bacan language can be found in Bleeker’s (1854, 1855, 1856, 1857) descriptions and names of the fish in Bacan’s waters and Filet’s (1859) list of plant names. Another early source is Alfred Wallace’s book about his pioneering botanical and zoological fieldwork in island Southeast Asia (Wallace 1869). However, although Wallace lived in Bacan “only a week short of six months” (1858-1859), he published only nine words of the Bacan language. The German anthropologist, A. Bastian, included thirty-five words of Bacan in the first volume of his book about the archipelago, “Indonesien” (Bastian 1884:126-127). Indeed, with good reason, Robidé van der Aa (1872:269) summarized the situation at the end of the 19th century: “We are in complete darkness about the language of this island, the language of Bacan”.
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