zaterdag 23 juli 2016

From Camphor to Amok: International Malay/Indonesian words

There seems to be one Malay word in the Qur'an: Sura 76:5 promises that 'the truly virtuous shall drink from a cup mixed with camphor. It is not healthy to drink pure camphor oil: it may cause death, but the Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an has examples that it is used as an fragrant aromatic in the perfume industry and the Qur'an commentaries talk about a spring in heaven where it comes from: or rather from the trees of Baros/Sumatra?
These days another Indonesian/Malay word was in the media. The word amok was used by the German spokesman for the investigation of the Iranian-German young man of 18 who run amok in Munich and killed 8 people, before committing suicide. Very clearly the policem officer did not use the word 'terrorist' attack but only spoke of a young adult who had psychical problems and ran amok.
A used the google proghramme to find more about the word in English, where it is also written as amuck and the 19th century Javanist P.J. Veth tells us the the British made two words ot it: 'make a muck of one's job': making an absolute failure. Maybe!
At least the German public was reassured that it was not a terrorist attack that might have caused a 'state of war' like in France where the attack in Nice was the reason to lengthen the 'state of war' for a longer period.

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