Malay trade and creole languages
Bahasa-bahasa Melayu dagang dan kreol
بهاس٢ ملايو داݢڠ دان کريول
Native toSoutheast Asia, South Asia and Australia
  • Malay trade and creole languages
Language codes
ISO 639-3

In addition to its classical and modern literary form, Malay had various regional dialects established after the rise of the Srivijaya empire in Sumatra, Indonesia. Also, Malay spread through interethnic contact and trade across the south East Asia Archipelago as far as the Philippines. That contact resulted in a lingua franca ("trade language") that was called Bazaar Malay or low Malay and in Malay Melayu Pasar. It is generally believed that Bazaar Malay was a pidgin, influenced by contact among Malay, Hokkien, Portuguese, and Dutch traders.

Besides the general simplification that occurs with pidgins, the Malay lingua franca had several distinctive characteristics. One was that possessives were formed with punya 'its owner, to have'; another was that plural pronouns were formed with orang 'person'. The only Malayic affixes that remained productive were tər- and bər-.

Other common features:

For example,[2]

Baba Malay

Baba Malay
ملايو بابا
RegionMelaka (in Malaysia) and Singapore
Native speakers
2,000 (2014)[3]
Malay-based creole
Language codes
ISO 639-3mbf
ELPBaba Malay

Baba Malay is spoken by the Peranakans in Melaka (in Malaysia) and Singapore. A typical contact language between Hokkien male settlers and local Malay women, it has "more Hokkien grammar and more Malay lexicon".[3] As of 2014, there are 1,000 speakers in Malaysia and another 1,000 in Singapore.[3] It is mostly spoken among the older populations.[4] In 1986, Pakir estimated there were 5,000 speakers in Singapore.[3] A Baba Indonesian variant is also spoken in East Java.

Example (spoken in Melaka-Singapore):[5]

Baba Indonesian

Baba Indonesian
Peranakan Indonesian
Bahasa Indonesia Peranakan
Basa Peranakan
بهاس ڤرانقن
RegionEast Java, Central Java. West Java, North Sumatra, West Kalimantan, and other pocket communities in Indonesia
Native speakers
(20,000 cited 1981)[6]
Malay-based creole
Language codes
ISO 639-3pea

A kind of Baba Malay, locally called Peranakan from the ethnonym, is spoken among Chinese-Indonesians living in various regions of Indonesia, most visibly in Surabaya and Medan. It is a mixture of three languages: Indonesian (national language), a local language and Chinese elements (ancestry/ethnic language, particularly for certain jargon or glossary such as family relations, business and commerce, and culinary fields). The most famous variety is found in East Java, especially in Surabaya and surrounding areas, called Basa Suroboyoan (Surabayan language), with a strong emphasis of low Javanese (ngoko Javanese) and informal tone, which is not only spoken by Chinese-Indonesian in Surabaya, but also by non-Chinese-Indonesians when conversing with the former.

Example (spoken in Surabaya):

Apart from East Javan Chinese-Indonesian, other Chinese-Indonesians tend to speak the language varieties of the places in which they live, such as the Central Javan Chinese-Indonesian can speak with formal/high Javanese (krama Javanese) when necessary, while in daily conversation they will use Indonesia-Javanese-Chinese pidgin. West Javan Chinese-Indonesians tend to mix Sundanese in their vocabulary, and Medan (North Sumatran) Chinese-Indonesian have more Hokkien words mixed in.

Betawi Malay

Betawi, also known as Betawi Malay, Jakartan Malay, or Batavian Malay, is the spoken language of the Betawi people in Jakarta, Indonesia. It is the native language of perhaps 5 million people; a precise number is difficult to determine due to the vague use of the name.

Betawi Malay is a popular informal language in contemporary Indonesia, used as the base of Indonesian slang and commonly spoken in Jakarta TV soap operas and some animated cartoons (e.g. Adit Sopo Jarwo).[7] The name "Betawi" stems from Batavia, the official name of Jakarta during the era of the Dutch East Indies. Colloquial Jakarta Indonesian, a vernacular form of Indonesian that has spread from Jakarta into large areas of Java and replaced existing Malay dialects, has its roots in Betawi Malay. According to Uri Tadmor, there is no clear border distinguishing Colloquial Jakarta Indonesian from Betawi Malay.[8]

Malaccan Creole Malay

The Malay Chetty creole language (also known as Malaccan Creole Malay, Malacca Malay Creole[9] and Chitties/Chetties Malay) is a Malay-based creole spoken by the Chetties (also known as Indian Peranakans), a distinctive group of Tamil people found mainly in Malacca in Malaysia and Singapore, who have adopted Chinese and Malay cultural practices whilst also retaining their Hindu heritage.[10]

Sri Lanka Malay

Sri Lankan Malay (also known as Sri Lankan Creole Malay, Bahasa Melayu, Ja basawa and Java mozhi) is a creole language spoken in Sri Lanka, formed as a mixture of Sinhala and Shonam (Sri Lankan Muslim Tamil), with Malay being the major lexifier.[11] It is traditionally spoken by the Sri Lankan Malays and among some Sinhalese in Hambantota.[12] Today, the number of speakers of the language have dwindled considerably but it has continued to be spoken notably in the Hambantota District of Southern Sri Lanka, which has traditionally been home to many Sri Lankan Malays.

Singapore Bazaar Malay

Singapore Bazaar Malay, also known as Bazaar Malay, Pasar Malay, or Market Malay, is a Malay-lexified pidgin, which is spoken in Singapore.[13] Tamil and Hokkien contributed to the development of Bazaar Malay, with Hokkien being the dominant substrate language of Bazaar Malay, with Malay being the lexifier language.[14] However, there are many input languages spoken by immigrants that also contributed to the development of Bazaar Malay, including languages spoken by Malays, Chinese, Indians, Eurasians, and Europeans. Singapore Bazaar Malay emerged along with the opening of Singapore's free trade port in 1819, to overcome barriers in communication and business transactions. Since Singapore has only four official languages (English, Mandarin, Malay, and Tamil), Singapore Bazaar Malay not only is a lingua franca in interethnic communication, it is also used in intra-group communication. Singapore Bazaar Malay is mostly spoken by elders and middle-aged workers today, but its language status is declining due to education policies and language campaigns with less than 10,000 speakers.[13]

Bazaar Malay is used in a limited extent in Singapore and Malaysia, mostly among the older generation or people with no working knowledge of English.[13] The most important reason that contributed to the decline of Bazaar Malay is that pidgin Malay has creolised and created several new languages.[15] Another reason is due to language shift in both formal and informal contexts, Bazaar Malay in Singapore is gradually being replaced by English, with English and its creole Singlish being the lingua franca among the younger generations.[13]

Sabah Malay

Sabah Malay
RegionSabah, Sulu Archipelago, Labuan, North Kalimantan, south Palawan
Native speakers
3 million L2 speakers (2013)[17]
Malay–based pidgin
Language codes
ISO 639-3msi

A pidginised variant of standard Malay, Sabah Malay is a local trade language.[18] There are a large number of native speakers in urban areas, mainly children who have a second native language. There are also some speakers in the southernmost parts of the Philippines, particularly in the Sulu Archipelago as a trade language, also spoken in south Palawan. There are loanwords from Tausug, Sama-Bajau languages, Chabacano, Brunei Malay, Indonesian, standard Malaysian as well as other ethnic native languages of Sabah & North Kalimantan.

Makassar Malay

Makassar Malay
Native toIndonesia
RegionMakassar, South Sulawesi
Native speakers
Second language: 1.9 million (2000)
Language codes
ISO 639-3mfp

Makassar Malay is a creole-based mixed language, which is built of Bazaar Malay lexicon, Makassarese inflections, and mixed Malay/Makassarese syntax.[20][21]

It is now widely spoken as the first language in Makassar City and its surrounding areas, especially those who were born after 1980's. It has widely spread to the entire region in southern part of Sulawesi island, including in the provinces of Sulawesi Selatan, Sulawesi Tenggara, and Sulawesi Barat as regional lingua franca or as second language due to contact or doing business with people from Makassar City.

Makassar Malay used as a default dialect or neutral language when communicating with people from other tribes or ethnicities whom do not share the same local language to the native local speakers in those three provinces. It appears that Makassar Malay also used as the first language of younger generation who live in the cities or regencies' capital across those three provinces.

Furthermore, apart from those three provinces in the southern part of Sulawesi island, Makassar Malay also used by people in some parts of Sulawesi Tengah Province, especially when communicating with people from those three provinces. It can also be used when communicating with people from other people from other provinces in Eastern Indonesia and in the province of Kalimantan Timur.[22]

Balinese Malay

Main article: Balinese Malay

Balinese Malay
Loloan Malay
Omong Kampong
بهاس ملايو بالي
Native toIndonesia
RegionBali (especially in Jembrana)
EthnicityLoloan Malays
Native speakers
25,000 (2000 census)[23]
Latin script
Jawi script
Balinese script
Language codes
ISO 639-3mhp

Balinese Malay or Loloan Malay is a dialect of Malay spoken in the island of Bali. It is also known as Omong Kampong ("village speak") by its speakers. Balinese Malay is the primary language of ethnic Malay who live in the northwestern part of the island, mainly in the districts of Melaya and Negara, Jembrana Regency.[24] The current language status is threatened.[25]

Broome Pearling Lugger Pidgin

Broome Pearling Lugger Pidgin is a pidgin that sprang up in Broome, Western Australia in the early 20th century to facilitate communication between the various groups working in the pearling industry there—Japanese, Malays, Torres Strait Islanders, Koepangers, Hakka Chinese, Filipinos, Sri Lankans of Sinhalese and Tamil descent, a small number of Koreans, and local Indigenous Australians,[26] mainly of the Bardi people but also Nyulnyul, Jabirr Jabirr, Jukun, Yawuru and Karajarri people. The name derives from the boats used for pearling, known as pearling luggers.

Chirikurok -kaa hokurok -kaa peke kriki.
English: "three o'clock" Japanese: "or" English: "four o'clock" Japanese: "or" Malay: "go" English: "creek"
"We will enter the creek at three or four o'clock."

Eastern Indonesia Malay

The creoles of eastern Indonesia[27] appear to have formed as Malays, using lingua franca Malay, established their monopoly on the spice trade before the European colonial era. They have a number of features in common:

For example,[2]

Bacan (next) is perhaps the most archaic, and appears to be closely related to Brunei Malay (which is still a creole).

There is a loss of diphthongs:

There are many affixes that the pronunciation is simplified:

For example:

The loss of middle "ə" and "h" in the last end of words:

Alor Malay

Main article: Alor Malay

Alor Malay is spoken in the Alor archipelago. Speakers perceive Alor Malay to be a different register of standard Indonesian, but both of these are prestige varieties of the archipelago. Many people are able to understand standard Indonesian, but cannot speak it fluently and choose to use Alor Malay on a daily basis.[28]

Alor Malay is based on Kupang Malay; however, Alor Malay differs significantly from Kupang Malay, especially in its pronouns.[29]

Ambonese Malay

Ambonese Malay or simply Ambonese is a Malay-based creole language spoken on Ambon Island in the Maluku Islands of Eastern Indonesia. It was first brought by traders from Western Indonesia, then developed when the Dutch Empire colonised the Maluku Islands and was used as a tool by missionaries in Eastern Indonesia. Malay has been taught in schools and churches in Ambon, and because of this it has become a lingua franca in Ambon and its surroundings.

Banda Malay

Banda Malay
Banda Islands Malay
Native toIndonesia
RegionBanda Islands
Native speakers
3,700 (2000)[30]
Malay-based creole
  • East Indonesian
    • Banda Malay
Language codes
ISO 639-3bpq

Banda Malay is a distinct variant of Moluccan Malay, spoken in Banda Islands, Maluku. Significantly different from Ambonese Malay and for Ambonese, Banda Malay tends to be perceived as sounding funny due to its unique features.

Example :

Dili Malay

Dili Malay is a variety of trade Malay spoken in Dili, Timor Leste especially in the Kampung Alor area.[31] According to experts, before becoming the mother tongue of a number of its speakers, this language was originally a pidgin language (Bloomfield, 1933; Hall, 1966). Then, in its development, this pidgin language became a creole language which was used in wider social interactions in society (Todd, 1974:50).[32] Due to the long historical presence of the Portuguese in East Timor, several Dili Malay loanwords originate from Portuguese and Tetum, with little influences from other native languages.


Main article: Gorap language

Native toIndonesia
RegionNorthern and western regions of Halmahera Island (mainly)
EthnicityGorap people
Native speakers
(1,000 cited 1992)[33]
Malay-based creole
  • Eastern Indonesia Malay
    • Manadoic Malay
      • Gorap
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3goq
Gorap language classified as Endangered by UNESCO in its Atlas of the World's Languages at Risk of Extinction.
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Gorap is a Malay-based creole language predominantly spoken by Gorap (Bobaneigo)[34] ethnic group, indigenous to western and northern regions of the Indonesian island of Halmahera.[35] It shares vocabulary with other Papuan languages and some of languages spoken in Sulawesi, such as Buginese and Cia-Cia. Roughly around 60 out of 200 attested words in this language were indicated sharing vocabulary with those languages.[36]

Kupang Malay

Kupang Malay or simply the Kupang language is a Malay-based creole language spoken in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, which is on the west end of Timor Island. Kupang Malay is presently used as a lingua franca for inter-ethnic communication, and it also has native speakers.[37]

Larantuka Malay

Larantuka Malay is a contact variety of Malay spoken in and around the city of Larantuka on the island of Flores in Indonesia, and in two enclaves: the village of Wure on the island of Adonara (across a narrow strait from Larantuka) and four villages on Konga Bay, about 40 kilometers south of Larantuka on Flores, and serves more generally as a lingua franca on the eastern tip of Flores and nearby islands. There are approximately 23,000 native speakers of Larantuka Malay. Second language speakers of Larantuka Malay are primarily found in and around the city of Larantuka and through the eastern part of Flores island, as well as the nearby islands of Adonara, Solor and Lembata (Lomblen), and natively speak Lamaholot or other languages closely related to Lamaholot, which, until recently, were believed to be dialects of Lamaholot.

Manado Malay

Manado Malay, or simply the Manado language, is a creole language spoken in Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi province in Indonesia, and the surrounding area. The local name of the language is bahasa Manado, and the name Minahasa Malay is also used,[38] after the main ethnic group speaking the language. Since Manado Malay is used primarily for spoken communication, there is no standard orthography.

Sula Malay

Main article: Sula Malay

Sula Malay
Sula–Taliabu Malay
Melayu Sula
Native toIndonesia
RegionSula Islands and Taliabu Island
Native speakers
170,000 (2023 estimate)[39]
Malay-based creole
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Sula Malay is a variety of Malay-based creole language which is generally used by multiethnic society in Sula Islands and Taliabu Island in the southwest part of North Maluku. The Sula Malay is heavily influenced by other languages, This can be found in loan words originating from Ambonese Malay and Dutch language can be found in Sula Malay. Some contraction vocabulary can also be found in this language, as is the case in North Moluccan Malay (Ternate Malay).[40]

Ternate/North Moluccan Malay

North Moluccan Malay (also known as Ternate Malay) is a Malay-based creole language spoken on Ternate, Tidore, Halmahera, and Sula Islands, North Maluku for intergroup communications. The local name of the language is bahasa Pasar, and the name Ternate Malay is also used, after the main ethnic group speaking the language. Since North Moluccan Malay is used primarily for spoken communication, there is no standardized orthography. One of its varieties is Sula Malay, which was formed with the influence of Ambonese Malay and Dutch language.[41]

Papuan Malay

Papuan Malay or Irian Malay is a Malay-based creole language spoken in the Indonesian part of New Guinea. It emerged as a contact language among tribes in Indonesian New Guinea (now Papua, Central Papua, Highland Papua, South Papua, West Papua, and Southwest Papua) for trading and daily communication. Nowadays, it has a growing number of native speakers. More recently, the vernacular of Indonesian Papuans has been influenced by Standard Indonesian, the national standard dialect. It is spoken in Indonesian New Guinea alongside 274 other languages[42] and functions as a lingua franca.


  1. ^ a b Wurm, Stephen A.; Mühlhäusler, Peter; Darrell T., Tryon, eds. (1996). Atlas of languages of intercultural communication in the Pacific, Asia and the Americas. p. 673.
  2. ^ a b Collins, James T. (1989). "Malay dialect research in Malaysia: the issue of perspective" (PDF). Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde. 145 (2/3): 235–264. doi:10.1163/22134379-90003253.
  3. ^ a b c d Lee, Nala Huiying (2014). A Grammar of Baba Malay with Sociophonetic Considerations (PDF) (Ph.D. thesis). University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. p. 13, 379. hdl:10125/101107. Archived from the original (PDF) on 25 August 2015.
  4. ^ "Malay, Baba". Ethnologue. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  5. ^ "BABA / PERANAKAN MALAY". The Peranakan Resource Library. Retrieved 12 December 2014.
  6. ^ Peranakan Malay at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  7. ^ Bowden, John. Towards an account of information structure in Colloquial Jakarta Indonesian. Proceedings of the International Workshop on Information Structure of Austronesian Languages, 10 April 2014. Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. p. 194.
  8. ^ Kozok, Uli (2016), Indonesian Native Speakers – Myth and Reality (PDF), p. 15
  9. ^ "Malaccan Malay Creole". Ethnologue. Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  10. ^ Paulo 2018.
  11. ^ "APiCS Online - Survey chapter: Sri Lankan Malay". Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  12. ^ de Silva Jayasuriya, Shihan (2002). "Sri Lankan Malay: A Unique Creole" (PDF). NUSA: Linguistic Studies of Languages in and Around Indonesia. 50: 43–57.
  13. ^ a b c d "APiCS Online - Survey chapter: Singapore Bazaar Malay". Retrieved 6 October 2018.
  14. ^ Platt, John; Weber, Heidi (1980). English in Singapore and Malaysia: Status, features, functions. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  15. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Vehicular Malay". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  16. ^ Sabah Malay at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013) Closed access icon
  17. ^ Sabah Malay at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  18. ^ Hoogervorst, Tom G. (2011). "Some introductory notes on the development and characteristics of Sabah Malay". Wacana, Journal of the Humanities of Indonesia. 13 (1): 50–77. doi:10.17510/wjhi.v13i1.9.
  19. ^ Makassar Malay at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  20. ^ Wurm, Stephen A.; Mühlhäusler, Peter; Darrell T., Tryon, eds. (1996). Atlas of languages of intercultural communication in the Pacific, Asia and the Americas. p. 682.
  21. ^ "Makassarese Malay". Jakarta Field Station of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Retrieved 19 December 2018.
  22. ^ "Malay, Makassar". Ethnologue. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  23. ^ Balinese Malay at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  24. ^ Bagus, I Gusti Ngurah; Denes, I Made; Laksana, I Ketut Darma; Putrini, Nyoman; Ginarsa, I Ketut (1985). Kamus Melayu Bali-Indonesia (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Pusat Pembinaan dan Pengembangan Bahasa. pp. xi.
  25. ^ "Malay, Balinese". Ethnologue. Retrieved 7 October 2018.
  26. ^ "Australian pearling industry". Britannica Kids. Retrieved 15 February 2022.
  27. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Eastern Indonesia Trade Malay". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  28. ^ Baird, Louise (2008). A grammar of Klon: a non-Austronesian language of Alor, Indonesia. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
  29. ^ Klamer, Marion (2014). "The Alor-Pantar languages: Linguistic context, history and typology.". In Klamer, Marian (ed.). Alor Pantar languages: History and Typology. Berlin: Language Sciences Press. pp. 5–53. doi:10.17169/FUDOCS_document_000000020993. ISBN 9783944675602.
  30. ^ Bandanese Malay at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  31. ^ "Diusulkan Jadi Bahasa ASEAN, Ini Daftar Negara Yang Pakai Bahasa Melayu". (in Indonesian). 6 April 2022. Retrieved 18 May 2022.
  32. ^ Inyo Yos Fernandez. "Beberapa Catatan Tentang Bahasa Melayu Dili: Studi Awal Mengenai Bahasa Melayu Di Timor Timur". (in Indonesian). Retrieved 18 May 2022.
  33. ^ Gorap at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019) Closed access icon
  34. ^ Sudrajat, Adi (17 September 2022). "Mengungkap Keindahan Alam Kampung Nelayan Bobaneigo Halmahera Barat". (in Indonesian). Kompasiana. Retrieved 7 July 2024.
  35. ^ "Bahasa Gorap". Badan Pengembangan dan Pembinaan Bahasa (in Indonesian). Indonesia: Kementerian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan Republik Indonesia.
  36. ^ Sa'diyah, H. W. F. K. (2020). Sudaryanto (ed.). "Laporan Fonologi Bahasa Gorap". Metode dan Aneka Teknik. Kantor Bahasa Provinsi Maluku.
  37. ^ Jacob, June; Grimes, Barbara Dix (2006). "Developing a role for Kupang Malay: the contemporary politics of an eastern Indonesian creole". Paper Presented by June Jacob at the Tenth International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics Held in Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines.
  38. ^ Stoel 2007, p. 117.
  39. ^ "Visualisasi Data Kependudukan - Kementerian Dalam Negeri 2023" (Visual). Retrieved 1 June 2024.
  40. ^ Duwila, Ety; Fernandez, Inyo Yos (2009). "Kajian dialektologi diakronis enklave Melayu Bacan, Ternate, dan Sula di Provinsi Maluku Utara". Tesis S2 Linguistik (in Indonesian). Yogyakarta, Indonesia: Universitas Gadjah Mada.
  41. ^ Duwila, Ety; Fernandez, Inyo Yos (2009). "Kajian dialektologi diakronis enklave Melayu Bacan, Ternate, dan Sula di Provinsi Maluku Utara". Tesis S2 Linguistik (in Indonesian). Yogyakarta, Indonesia: Universitas Gadjah Mada.
  42. ^ Kluge 2014, p. 2.

Works cited