Southeast Asia, the arrival of British settlers and the battles for the imminent colonization

Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia currently offers one of the most variegated and unique scenery in the whole planet where, in addition to the mixture of ancient indigenous languages and Asian dialects in general, it is possible to observe an interesting phenomenon of mixing between the influence of British English and that of American English. In order to discover all events and factors that have contributed to the preponderance of the former or the latter variant in any territory of Southeast Asia taken into our consideration, we inevitably need to go back to the early contacts of British explorers and adventurers with Southeast Asia indigenous populations.


British explorers in Southeast Asia

According to what stated by the famous linguist David Crystal in English as Global Language, these contacts started with the numerous journeys undertaken by British sailors in the late seventeenth century, in particular with the one made by Captain James Cook in 1770. On the contrary, some writings belonging to the renowned scholar Anthony Webster place the early British contacts in Indonesia and Southeast Asia around the beginning of Seventeenth century, during that period of inflamed competition between the British East India Company and the Dutch East India Company for the dominion on the spice trade.

British vs Dutch: blood in Southeast Asia

Among the early battles that in this particular period saw Duch fleets fighting against the British ones, we may remember: that of Amboina (1623) which finished with a tremendous massacre for many employees belonging to the British East India Company by the Duch forces and that with which, in 1682, the Dutch took possession of Banten province, located at the west end of today’s Java Island. With this victory the Dutch finally ousted British merchants from those territories. In the coming centuries, although the British East India Company had successfully imposed its control in the whole Benkulen province (currently Bengkulu), located on the west coastof Sumatra island, all Company concerns remained limited to the Indian subcontinent until the second half of Eighteenth century1.

Further Readings and Recommended Books

1Webster Anthony, Gentlemen Capitalists: British Imperialism in South East Asia 1770-1890, International Library of Historical Studies, 9, Tauris Academic Studies, London, 1998, United Kingdom.

Dr. Biagio Faraci, traduttore tecnico, interprete di trattativa ed international web business consultant

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