31 May 2010

No Durians

Here's a sign I saw on the entrance to a hotel in the town of Limbang, in Sarawak (Malaysia). It means: No Durians.

It's a sign I have seen many times in Singapore but never in Brunei. I'm not sure why. One of my colleagues tells me it's because Bruneians love the smell of durians, so they wouldn't want to stop people bringing them into a building. I remain unconvinced.

The word durian is interesting. It is from Malay, and the root of the word is duri ('spike'). So it means 'spiky thing', which makes sense.

We might also note that the Mandarin Chinese for 'durian' is 留連 (liúlián), which is a borrowing from Malay. I don't know of any other words borrowed from Malay into Mandarin.