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 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 Malay 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'; another was that plural pronouns were formed with orang 'person'. The only Malayic affixes that remained productive were tĕr- and bĕr-.

Other features:

For example,[2]

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.[3] The most important reason that contributed to the decline of Bazaar Malay is that pidgin Malay has creolised and created several new languages.[4] 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.[3]

Baba Malay

Baba Malay
ملايو بابا ڽوڽا
RegionMelaka (in Malaysia) and Singapore
Native speakers
2,000 (2014)[5]
Malay-based creole
Language codes
ISO 639-3mbf
ELPBaba Malay
Baba Indonesian
Peranakan Indonesian
Bahasa Indonesia Peranakan
Basa Peranakan
بهاس ڤرانقن
RegionEast Java (in Indonesia)
Native speakers
(20,000 cited 1981)[6]
Malay-based creole
Language codes
ISO 639-3pea

Baba Malay is spoken by the Peranakans. A typical contact language between Hokkien male settlers and local Malay women, it has "more Hokkien grammar and more Malay lexicon".[5] As of 2014, there are 1,000 speakers in Malaysia and another 1,000 in Singapore.[5] It is mostly spoken among the older populations.[7] In 1986, Pakir estimated there were 5,000 speakers in Singapore.[5]

A kind of Baba Malay, called Peranakan, is spoken among Chinese living in East Java. It is a mixture of Malay or Indonesian with local Javanese (East Javanese dialect) and Chinese elements (particularly Hokkien). This particular variety is found only in East Java, especially in Surabaya and surrounding areas. While other Chinese tend to speak the language varieties of the places in which they live (the Chinese of Central Java speak High or Standard Javanese in daily conversation even among themselves; in West Java, they tend to speak Sundanese), in Surabaya younger ethnic Chinese people tend to speak pure Javanese (Surabaya dialect) and learn Mandarin in courses.

Example (spoken in Surabaya):

Example (spoken in Melaka-Singapore):[8]

Betawi Malay

Main article: Betawi language

Basè Betawi
باسا بتاوي
Native toIndonesia
Native speakers
5 million (2000 census)[9]
Malay-based creole
  • Betawi
DialectsCocos Malay
Language codes
ISO 639-3bew

Betawi Malay, also known as Jakarta or Java Malay, is a creolised-Malay which is spoken in Jakarta (the modern name for Betawi) and its surroundings. Betawian or Omong Betawi is based on Bazaar Malay (Melayu Pasar) but influenced by various languages such as Javanese, Sundanese (the area is surrounded by Sundanese speaking area), Chinese (especially Hokkien), Portuguese, Dutch, Balinese and others. Betawian creole began to be used after 1750 in Batavia, and replaced Portuguese creole[which?] as the lingua franca.[10]

Betawian Malay was also influenced by Chinese-style Malay[which?] spoken by the Chinese settlers who had come earlier.[citation needed]

It has now become a very popular language particularly amongst the younger generations in Indonesia due largely to its use on television (such as sinetron or sitcom).[citation needed]

Betawi Malay was the ancestor of Cocos Malay.[citation needed]

Malaccan Creole Malay

Malaccan Creole Malay
Chitties Creole Malay
بهاس ملايو چيتي
Native toMalaysia
Native speakers
300 (no date)
Malay-based creole
Language codes
ISO 639-3ccm

Main article: Malay Chetty creole language

Spoken since the 16th century by descendants of Tamil merchants of the Malacca Straits. It may be historically related to Sri Lanka Creole Malay. The current language status is moribund, due to inter-marriage and out-migration. There has been language shift towards Malay instead.[11]

Sri Lanka Malay

Main article: Sri Lankan Creole Malay

Sri Lankan Malay
Native toSri Lanka
RegionNationwide, especially in Hambantota District
EthnicitySri Lankan Malays, also spoken by some Sinhalese in Hambantota
Native speakers
46,000 (2006)[12]
Malay Creole
  • Sri Lankan Malay
Language codes
ISO 639-3sci

The Sri Lankan Creole Malay language is a unique mixture of the Sinhala language and the Tamil language with Malay. Sri Lanka Malay (SLM) is a restructured vernacular of Malay base spoken by at least five different communities in Sri Lanka which has evolved to be significantly divergent from other varieties of Malay due to intimate contact with the dominant languages of Sinhala and Tamil. The Sri Lankan Malays, whose ancestry include labourers brought by the Dutch and British, as well as soldiers in the Dutch garrison, now constitute 0.3% of the population, numbering some 46,000. It is spoken by the Sri Lankan Malay community in Sri Lanka as well as among some Sinhalese in Hambantota.[13][14]

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.[3] 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.[15] 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.[3]

Sabah Malay

Sabah Malay
RegionSabah, Sulu Archipelago, Labuan
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.

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

Balinese Malay
Omong Kampung
Native toIndonesia
Native speakers
25,000 (2000 census)[23]
Malay-based creole
Language codes
ISO 639-3mhp

Balinese Malay is a dialect of Malay spoken in the island of Bali. It is also known as Omong Kampung ("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

Main article: Broome Pearling Lugger Pidgin

Broome Pearling Lugger Pidgin
RegionBroome, Western Australia
Native speakers
L2 speakers: 40–50 (no date)[26]
Malay-based creole
Language codes
ISO 639-3bpl

A pidgin used in the pearl industry in West Australia.

Eastern Indonesian Malay

The creoles of eastern Indonesia[28] appear to have formed as Malays and Javanese, 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:

The prefix word with "me","be","te",and"ke" reduces to "ma","ba","ta","ka"

For example:

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

Bacanese Malay

Bacanese Malay
Native toIndonesia
RegionBacan, North Maluku
Native speakers
6 (2012)[29]
Brunei Malay-based creole?
Language codes
ISO 639-3btj

Bacanese Malay is a Malayic isolect spoken in Bacan Island and its surroundings, south of Halmahera, North Maluku. Bacanese Malay is considered rather different from other Malay-derived languages in eastern Indonesia because of its archaic lexicon and was used as a supplementary language in the reconstruction of Proto-Malayic.[30]

Some Bacanese words occur in Wiltens & Danckaerts' 1623 vocabulary.[31] Bacanese is also reviewed in Adriani & Kruijt's 1914 monograph. The most detailed studies are by James T. Collins, who concludes that Bacan is indeed a Malay variety, descended from the Malay used in the Bacan Sultanate.[32]

Dili Malay

Main article: Dili Malay

Dili Malay
Bahasa Melayu Dili
Native toTimor Leste
RegionKampung Alor, Dili
Native speakers
1.000 (2000)
Malay Creole
  • East Indonesian
    • Dili Malay
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Dili Malay is a creole-based Malay language spoken in Kampung Alor, Dili. This language has a lot of borrowed vocabulary from Tetun and Portuguese language.

Manado Malay

Main article: Manado Malay

Manado Malay
Bahasa Manado
Native toIndonesia
RegionNorth Sulawesi
Native speakers
850,000 (2001)[33]
Malay Creole
  • East Indonesian
    • Manado Malay
Language codes
ISO 639-3xmm

Manado Malay is another creole which is the lingua franca in Manado and Minahasa, North Sulawesi. It is based on Ternatean Malay and highly influenced by Ternatean, Dutch, Minahasa languages and some Portuguese words.

Examples :

Sentences :


Native toIndonesia
RegionMorotai Island, central Halmahera
Native speakers
(1,000 cited 1992)[34]
Malay-based creole
  • East Indonesian
    • Gorap
Language codes
ISO 639-3goq

Gorap is lexically 85% Malay, but has many Ternate words as well, and word order differs from both Austronesian and Halmahera languages. Children no longer acquire the language.

Ternate / North Moluccan Malay

Main article: North Moluccan Malay

North Moluccan Malay
Bahasa Pasar
Native toIndonesia
RegionNorth Maluku
Native speakers
700,000 (2001)[35]
Malay Creole
  • East Indonesian
    • North Moluccan Malay
Language codes
ISO 639-3max

North Moluccan Malay is a creole resembles Manado Malay, but differs in accent and vocabulary. A large percentage of its vocabulary is borrowed from Ternatean, such as: ngana : you (sg) ngoni : you (pl) bifi  : ant ciri  : to fall

Spoken in Ternate, Tidore and Halmahera islands, North Maluku for intergroup communications, and in the Sula Islands.

Example :

Kupang Malay

"Kupang language" redirects here. For other language called Kupang, see Helong language.

Kupang Malay
Native toIndonesia
RegionKupang, West Timor
Native speakers
(200,000 cited 1997)[36]
100,000 L2 speakers (no date)[36]
Malay-based creole
  • East Indonesian
    • Kupang Malay
Language codes
ISO 639-3mkn

Kupang Malay is spoken in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, on the west end of Timor Island. It is based on archaic Malay which mixed mostly with Dutch, Portuguese and local languages. Similar to Ambonese Malay with several differences in vocabulary and accent. Its grammatical system resembles that of other East Indonesian Malay Creoles.

The pronouns in Kupang Malay differ from Indonesian as shown in the table below:[37]

Pronouns Indonesian Kupang Malay
First person singular
First person plural (inclusive)
First person plural (exclusive)
aku, saya
Second person singular
Second person plural
kamu, engkau
Third person singular
Third person plural

Unlike in Indonesian, there is no schwa in Kupang Malay.[37]

Indonesian Kupang Malay English Gloss
sēlamāt salamat 'greetings, safe'
kēliling kaliling, kuliling 'go around'
sēbēntar sabantar 'a moment'
pērut parú 'stomach'

The word order of Kupang Malay is mixed Malay and the Helong Language .

English Indonesian Kupang Malay
Kupang Kota Kupang Kupang kota
Indonesia has already become to most populated country. Indonesia sudah menjadi negara yang teramai Indonesiya su manjadi yang tarame

The "ia ,"ie, "io",and iu,reduces to iya, iye, iyo, iyu or nua, oa, os becomes nuwa, woa, wos.

For example;

Alor Malay

Ambonese Malay
Native toIndonesia
RegionMaluku Islands
Native speakers
(250,000 cited 1987)[38]
1.4 million L2 speakers
Malay Creole
  • East Indonesian
    • Ambonese Malay
DialectsPapuan Malay?
Language codes
ISO 639-3abs

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.[39]

Alor Malay is based on Kupang Malay; however, Alor Malay differs significantly from Kupang Malay, especially in its pronouns.[40]

Ambonese Malay

Main article: Ambonese Malay

Malay was first brought to Ambon by traders from Western Indonesia, then developed into a creole when the Dutch Empire colonised the Moluccas. Ambonese Malay was the first example of the transliteration of Malay into Roman script, and used as a tool of the missionaries in Eastern Indonesia.

Bandanese Malay

Bandanese Malay
Banda Malay
Native toIndonesia
RegionBanda Islands
Native speakers
3,700 (2000)[41]
Malay-based creole
  • East Indonesian
    • Bandanese Malay
Language codes
ISO 639-3bpq

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

Example :

Papuan/Irian Malay

Main article: Papuan Malay

Papuan Malay
Irian Malay
Native toIndonesia
RegionWest Papua
Native speakers
unknown; 500,000 combined L1 and L2 speakers (2007)[42]
Language codes
ISO 639-3pmy

Papuan Malay is the main contact language of the Indonesian half of New Guinea. Serui Malay is a variety of Papuan Malay spoken in the Yapen Islands, as well as in nearby coastal areas of the New Guinea mainland.

More recently, the vernacular of Indonesian Papuans has been influenced by Standard Indonesian, the national standard dialect.

Some linguists have suggested that Papuan Malay has its roots in North Moluccan Malay, as evidenced by the number of Ternate loanwords in its lexicon. Others have proposed that it is derived from Ambonese Malay.

Four varieties of Papuan Malay can be identified. A variety of Papuan Malay is spoken in Vanimo, Papua New Guinea near the Indonesian border.

Creole languages based on languages other than Malay


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  3. ^ a b c d "APiCS Online - Survey chapter: Singapore Bazaar Malay". Retrieved 6 October 2018.
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