Friday, 30 January 2009

From Bumbay To Indiyano

I would like to believe that in this modern age, Filipinos have (finally) realised that calling Indians
bumbay is not only inaccurate but can also be potentially offensive. Bombay (stress on the first syllable), which is the origin of bumbay (stress on the last syllable), apparently comes from a 16th century Portuguese pronunciation of Mumbai - the financial capital of India. Do you think the Indians call us manila or makati?

Anyroad, with the fading usage of bumbay, Filipinos have now come to use another word; one that would appear politically correct but is in fact another poorly chosen name: indiyano.

In popular linguistics, words such as this would be dubbed 'salitang siyokoy' (I will share other examples sometime else). Like the folkloric siyokoy (roughly, mermen), who are neither fully human nor fully fish, this new word is neither Spanish nor English but something else: an abomination born out of ignorance of both languages.

In English, the appropriate (and only) word for someone who is a native of India would be 'Indian'. In Spanish, believe it or not, the word is 'indio' (masculine) or 'india' (feminine). If this is confusing, remember that when European colonists first encountered the natives of the Americas and the Malayan archipelago, they thought they were in India.

Now where does this all lead us? I am not too sure, really. Whilst I am sure that the ancient, pre-colonial Filipinos traded with the Indians, what I am not sure about is what they called them. Can somebody direct me to the correct answer? Until then, I confine myself to "Indian" or "indio".

By the way, the beautiful (and foxy) lady above is Aishwarya Rai - a popular Bollywood actress of Tulu descent. A beauty, is she not?


  1. I wonder if the pre-spanish Filipinos called the Indians Bengali? Hehehe.

  2. That's possible. But my guess is that the Sindhi, Punjabi, and Tamil might have migrated/traded in larger numbers as most Indian Filipinos today speak those languages. :) Sa Cainta nga pala, maraming Indian Filipino. Mga inapo ng mga sepoy nung panahon ng British invasion.

  3. interesting points.

    i quite agree that the word bumbay is used negatively. many pinoys even associate them with the 5-6 type of lending business, along with turbans wrapped around the head, and so on.

    btw, aren't there also negative connotations to "indio"?

    offtopic: incidentally, why can't i comment using my wordpress ID. says "URL has illegal characters..." go figure.

    and hi pronghorn! ;)

  4. Hello, deejay! Thanks for finally coming over. :)

    Pinoys have too many slurs for others but can't seem to handle them on themselves. Balat sibuyas. :b

    Yes, there were and still are negative connotations to "indio" (like ignorant, slave, etc.), but those seem to be confined to the Philippines. Coincidentally, many Pinoys have forgotten them altogether.

    offtopic: That's weird. It should work. This is supposed to be wordpress-user friendly. *kamot*

  5. here in dubai, we call them 'pana'.. short for 'indian pana kakana-kana'.. hehe