Sunday, May 12, 2013

An Etymological study of the word Keling: Innocent canonical lexicon

Recently an Indian girl Faz claimed she was called the racist slur "keling", while under her big title of "racist country", giving a backdrop of a Chinese majority Singapore, effectively insinuating Chinese Singaporeans as racist. I have criticized her work in my blog and unfortunately, I have incurred many hostile comments ostensibly from minorities who are not able to defend their views.

Indians' version of origin of keling

Indians claim that keling is a derogatory word for Indian people. They claim that the name of keling caught on because Indians prisoners bought into Malaya by British wearing chains which make "kling", "kling" sound. That makes the word "keling" derogatory. Unfortunately, nothing can be further from truth.

Keling was a neutral and canonical lexicon to describe Indians in Malay languages

The word keling is used to describe Indians without any negative connotations in Malay classic literary works. Malaysiakini, a respected online newspaper, who fought against the use of "keling" reported an alternative opinion as below.

The first reference to the word 'keling' in the Sejarah Melayu, for example, in the second chapter dealing with the exploits of Raja Chulan, whom the emperor of China is said to refer to as 'Raja Keling'.

If this chapter is indeed, as some theorise, a distant memory of the invasion of Rajendra Chola during the Sri Vijaya period (circa 1025 AD), one can surmise that the 'keling' referred to in the chapter may indeed be the Cholas of south India rather than Kalinga in the east.

Many other references in the Sejarah Melayu refer to more recent events during the Melaka Sultanate period - such as Hang Nadim's visit to 'Benua Keling' - which must refer to India generically, rather than Kalinga in particular, as Kalinga had by then significantly declined as a major power, following its destruction by Asoka and later the Moghuls.

The Hikayat Hang Tuah itself has a whole chapter describing Hang Tuah's voyage to 'Benua Keling'. Portuguese accounts also indicate that the majority of Indian inhabitants and traders in Melaka were Muslims from the south of the subcontinent, with little mention of people from the Orissa coast.

Keling was found in many places in Hang Tuah referring to Indians without the slightest derogation. [see this]

Indians' version of Keling etymology is baseless

Sejarah Melayu was written before 1511. Hikayat Hang Tuah was written  between 1641 and 1739. Keling was referred in Sejarah Melayu and Hang Tuah long before British East India company rule in India, which began at 1774. The earliest keling reference is also more than 300 years before 1824 Anglo-Dutch treaty which put Malaya under British domination.

The first western European to set foot in India is Vasco Da Gama in 1498. In 1511, British was not even present in India, the European that came was the Portuguese. As late as 1608, the English East India Company established a settlement at Surat, India.

During 1511, British did not even have a naval supremacy. Her naval supremacy was established only after the defeat of Spanish Armada at 1588. She did not have access to large number of Indian people before her colonialization of India in 1757. She has total access to Malaya only after 1824 Anglo-Dutch treaty.

That is to say, there is no way Malays can refer to Indians as keling before 1511, for the reason of seeing British importing Indian prisoners to Malaya, marching in chain, making sounds of "kling", "kling". There was no British. There was no Indian prisoners to be seen in Malaya.

And many European text documented the use of keling even way before colonization of Malaya by British. The History of Languages of the Indian Islands was published in 1814 as below.

Next in series I will write about the degeneration of the word "keling" [see this].


Anonymous said...

Kling exist extract from Kalinga.the Indian girl you said above might be a Tamil or non Keling.India is divided with many ethnic.You need to agree that Keling exist in Singapore and elsewhere.e.g Tanjung Kling at Singapore Jurong.You think goverment is stupid or racist to name it.Or visit to Malacca Tanjung Kling along the coast.Afterall most Indian knew they are living in a caste system till now.If they cant agree to be call Kling but why they caste their own people Pariah.

Veritas said...

Part 2 will explain further. I will expose the hypocrisy of many people. I will talk about things many academic would not dare to touch, fearing dynamite of racist and hypocrite

Anonymous said...

I have read many books that refer to the Chinese as Chinks.

So, using Veritas' logic, I should be okay in referring to Veritas and her/his ilk as CHINKS?

So, Veritas, you sexy CHINK, I like your yellow skin and chinky eyes.

No offense meant.

Anonymous said...

The English refer to the Pakistanis in UK as Pakis, short for ethnic group.

So, using Vertas' logic, the PAKIS should not be offended, right?

Anonymous said...

Many Angmoh refer to the Chinese as CHINAMAN, which they undoubtedly are.

But CHINAMAN has become a pejorative term if uttered by a non-Chinese.

Can I call Vertas, a CHINKY CHINAMAN?

I have many references that show the legitimate usage of CHINAMAN.

So, it should be okay. Right, Veritas?

Veritas said...

Hang on... Don get emotional. I should say Chinese till now is not strong, so not confident enough to take any slur as a big joke.

The "Ang Moh" 红毛 is a hokkien word for "red hair". In Cantonese, white man is call "gwai loh" 鬼佬, meaning demon.

Instead of racism of Chinese against Ang Moh, its the other way, the Ang Moh admit also.

All race has some slur against one another. Indian, Malay all has their slurs... I have lots of evidence.

White man has racism against all other whiteman tribe and all color people.

This is one thing. But insinuating Chinese of racism because of racial slur need further inspection. That is my point.

Veritas said...

No one like to be called slur point blank, even for white man.

Faz got call slur in young age. She got hurt But she got to think further. Also there are evidence that Singaporean Chinese still treat "keling" word as canonical word in 1990s, since it is a othodox word to describe Indians in Malay language.

Getting hurt in one thing. Accusing others of racism, with shallow reasons is a serious issue.

And I get vomit my I see how many minorities comment about this keling word orign.

They did not study diligently and they have low IQ. If these people have their ways, our country run into shit

Anonymous said...

And the pictures below

Veritas said...

Thank you for the resource. I wont accuse your tribe, for racism against Chinese just because of this.

I look at bigger picture.

Josiah Heng said...

It's ok, I also used to sit alone & eat peanut butter and jelly sandwich and read Enid Blyton. I'm not to sure what to call this problem that I have, but I am sort of a racist myself. I hate any other race other then "Singaporean". I feel at home with Singaporeans like myself. I don't care if you're indian, chinese, malay, eurasian...etc. who cares? As long as you're Singaporean, you're my favorite!

Veritas said...

I kana call cina babi young time. Must I say Malay racist just because of this idiot?

Anonymous said...

I've got to hand it to Veritas, who despite having grown in the PRC, a Communist dictatorship, is willing to start a blog and express his views.

Contract this to Singapore Chinese, who live in a Democracy (supposedly), but don't have the balls or the interest to come out with their opinions.

I guess to busy making money, or complaining about not making money.

The PRC Chinese, like Veritas, will leave a legacy, unlike the Singapore Chinese.

Veritas said...

I true blue singaporean chinese, served SAF.

Veritas said...

But many Singaporean Chinese and many from minorities are really bunch of idiots. Go look at comments in Faz's site, KNN they never study, no diligent to do research, and yet attack Singaporean Chinese like big self-righteous shit.

Now you read my article. I de-mystified my lies.

Anonymous said...

If u are a true blue Singaporean you won't be hiding behind a UK mail account. To engage you intellectually would not be possible because it presupposes that you possess intellect. From your flawed arguments it's apparent that you don't.

Veritas said...

Point out the flaw in this work. I will gladly accept.

Anonymous said...

Veritas said...

I true blue singaporean chinese, served SAF.

I don't think so. Your English is not even Singlish!

You write like a PRC friend of mine, who first thinks in Mandarin and then translates it into English.

Come on Veritas, tells us where you are really from?

Which schools did you attend?

Anonymous said...

What schools did you attend, then? Come on, you can tell us.