07 January 2011

Royal Birth

On 2 January, Princess Sarah, the wife of the Crown Prince of Brunei, gave birth to a daughter. The headline on page 1 of the Media Permata of 3 January announcing this happy event was this:'YTM' stands for Yang Teramat Mulia ('the most honourable'); and selamat meluaran seorang Puteri means 'safely gave birth to a princess'.

If an ordinary person gives birth, it is melahirkan anak. But for members of the Royal Family, an entirely different vocabulary is used, in order to show proper respect to the Sultan and his family. This language is called Bahasa Dalam ('Palace Language', literally 'inside language'). In this case, the verb is meluaran rather than melahirkan. The root of the word is luar ('outside'), and the -an suffix is a bit unexpected, as -kan is a more usual suffix for transitive verbs. But maybe it is true that much of Bahasa Dalam does not follow the usual rules for Malay morphology.