Lumpia, hidden Austronesian meaning?

Lumpia is a famous Filipino dish, which obviously is brought to the Philippines by Holo speaking Han Chinese, and pretty much the same thing as the Taiwanese dish lūn-piánn (潤餅 rùnbǐng).

However, the Chinese name itself actually doesn’t make a lot of sense. Lūn (潤) is the action to make something wet, and extends to describe something shiny like it’s coated with gel. It’s not exactly a perfect description for the dish.

Some would say the correct Hanji for lūn should be 荏 (jím) or 輭 (nńg), which is just another way to write 軟 (nńg). All three means soft, which isn’t a bad description of the dish. The issue is they would have to go through a bit of a sound change to be pronounced as lūn.

I was looking over a list of monosyllabic roots in proto-Austronesian, proposed by John Wolff, and I saw this:

*luluñ ‘roll up’
*baluñ ‘fold over, wrap’

I went on to look up if the usage exists.

The action of rolling or wrapping in Puyuma is lulun. The action of something like a boulder rolling is kulukulung. In Tagalog, the action of rolling or wrapping seems to be magpagulong, gumulong, pagulungin.

The proto-Austronesian monosyllabic root *lun seems to be present in the form of lun, lung, or long in these examples.

So what if the first syllable for lūn-piánn is actually from Austronesian? In that case lūn-piánn would just literally mean rolled pastry.

Could the name and the dish itself have originated from Austronesian influences and borrowed into Holo, then reborrowed into Austronesian languages like Tagalog?


That’s pretty interesting. Are there any equivalent aboriginal dishes? That might be a good place to start.


This is a (loompia) loempia! Crispy!

This makes sense to me for the Taiwanese version, which is often kind of limp and soggy.

It does, but it seems kind of high-falutin’. I might expect “nng biaN”.

Apart from crispy Lumpia, the “Lu” as rolling is present in Indonesian.
Menggulung means to roll something such as making Dadar Gulung, a kind of pandan scented crepe. This “gulung” comes.from Javanese language. “Gulung tikar”, is a euphemism for going bankrupt, as you would roll up the mat (tikar) on which you sold your goods.
Mengguling means to rotate something, like Babi Guling (rotisserie roasted pig).

The man in the above video is famous for scaring the living crap out of people with his scream of, “LUMPIA!” As he sells his snacks around Ubud, Bali.

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@hansioux You might be interested in this…

Most editions of The Malay Archipelago by Alfred Russel Wallace contain a couple.of appendices of comparative vocabulary lists in languages of the Malay archipelago .
pp 510-535 in the edition available as a free pdf here;[10th].pdf&ved=2ahUKEwiWsq3Np-nkAhXNb30KHeSGCSgQFjAAegQIAxAB&usg=AOvVaw22VpbWHRz_mmmJ4bIwuWZk


I can think of plenty of Zhongzi like dishes, but no lumpia like dishes that comes to mind.

How common is “lun” colloquially in Taiwan? Is the dish found in Fujian too?

Although it is often credited to be an ancient custom, but the name 潤餅 seems to be a Fujian and Taiwan specific term. So the term does exist in Fujian, but I don’t think that alone can rule out the possibility of Austronesian influence.

There is no other place where lūn is used to describe roll or wrap in Taigi, but as soft it’s pretty common.

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Don’t forget the Philippines. Their lumpia taste much better than the Taiwanese version. :grin:


I want to know where to buy the best lumpia in Taiwan. When my husband was active duty in the Navy, one of the wives would bring this delicious platter of them to parties, picnics.

Did I see that they’re deep fried there?

Right, I got sidetracked on “Taiwan Aborigines” there.

There’s lots of versions, but the best are the deep-fried ones filled with pork or beef.

Is there a good Taiwanese version? The skin is limp and floppy, but what makes it gross is the filling: soggy vegetables, egg and that sweet peanut powder. That whole “gam dee” thing really turns me off.

Shocking :slight_smile: Sounds great!

Agree, never really cared for them. Mostly the soggy vegetables making the skin soggy for me. I’m good with salty/sweet

I think the lun bing is really very good at some markets here. Pretty healthy stuff . That they are aren’t too dry is a good thing in my book.
I don’t have any other reference for it from somewhere else.

Hmm, maybe this is the main problem right here.

Most of the Tauwanese lūn-piánn that you found in street markets are so so. There are a few shops that are as good as people make them at home.

In Hsinchu for example, I love going to this place:

It even has a salad wrap if you don’t want the traditional flavor.

A well made lūn-piánn isn’t soggy, and it’s very savory and flavorful. I see the appeal of fried spring rolls, but I do love the soft and fluffy texture and smell of a freshly made lūn-piánn crepe.

Also called popiah (薄餅) in Malaysia and Singapore

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