The Newsletter 66 Winter 2013

Travelling words and their lessons on the 'Indianisation' of Southeast Asia

Tom Hoogervorst

The author’s research aims to cast a new light on the oft-neglected vernacular dimension of pre-modern contact between India and Southeast Asia. The nature of interaction between these two culturally diverse regions is reconstructed from historical linguistics, lexical borrowing and the distribution of biological, cultural and technological items designated by the ‘travelling’ loanwords under comparison. Doing so inevitably involves a departure from the traditional focus on the culture of the upper class, shaped by Sanskrit-speaking elites, towards a fuller appreciation of the roles played by sailors, merchants and craftsmen in the introduction of Indian concepts into Southeast Asia.


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