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Manado Malay
Bahasa Manado
Native toIndonesia
RegionNorth Sulawesi
Native speakers
850,000 (2001)[1]
Malay Creole
  • East Indonesian
    • Manado Malay
Language codes
ISO 639-3xmm

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, after the main ethnic group speaking the language. Since Manado Malay is used primarily for spoken communication, there is no standard orthography.

Manado Malay differs from standard Malay in having numerous Portuguese and Dutch loan words as a result of colonisation and having traits such as its use of kita as a first person singular pronoun, rather than as a first person inclusive plural pronoun. It is derived from North Moluccan Malay (Ternate Malay), which can be evidenced by the number of Ternate loanwords in its lexicon.[2] For example, the pronouns "ngana" (‘you’, singular) and "ngoni" (‘you’, plural) are of North Halmahera origin.[3] Simple Manado Malay sentences can be understood by speakers of standard Malay or western Malay dialects, albeit with varying degrees of difficulty.[citation needed]



The vowel system of Manado Malay consists of five vowel phonemes.[4]: viii 

Manado Malay vowels
Front Central Back
High i u
Mid e ə o
Low a


Manado Malay has nineteen consonants and two semivowels.[4]: ix 

North Moluccan Malay consonants
Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosive p b t d c ɟ k ɡ ʔ
Fricative f v s h
Lateral l
Trill r
Semivowel w j


Most words have stress on the pre-final syllable:

kadéra 'chair'
sténga 'half'
dói 'money'

But there are also many words with final stress:

butúl 'right, correct, true'
tolór 'egg; testicle'
sabóng 'soap'




Pronoun Standard Indonesian Manado Malay
First singular saya kita
First plural kami / kita torang
Second singular Anda ngana
Second plural kalian ngoni
Third singular dia dia
Third plural mereka dorang


Possessives are built by adding "pe" to the personal pronoun or name or noun, then followed by the 'possessed' noun. Thus "pe" has the function similar to English "'s" as in "the doctor's uniform".

English Manado Malay
My friend kita pe tamang / ta pe tamang
Your (sing.) friend ngana pe tamang / nga pe tamang
His/her book dia pe buku / de pe buku
This book is yours (pl.) ini ngana pe buku

Interrogative words

The following are the interrogative words or "w-words" in Manado Malay:

English Manado Malay
why kyápa
where di mána
who sápa
which one(s) tu mána

Grammatical aspect

Ada ('to be') can be used in Manado Malay to indicate the perfective aspect, e.g.:

Nasal final

The final nasals /m/ and /n/ in Indonesian are replaced by the "-ng" group in Manado Malay, similar with Terengganu dialect of Malaysia, e.g.:


"ba-" prefix

The ber- prefix in Indonesian, which serves a function similar to the English -ing, is modified into ba- in Manado Malay. E.g.: bajalang (berjalan, walking), batobo (berenang, swimming), batolor (bertelur, laying eggs)

"ma(°)-" prefix

° = ng, n, or m depending on phonological context.

The me(°)- prefix in standard Indonesian, which also serves a function to make a verb active, is modified into ma(°)- in Manado Malay. E.g.: mangael (mengail, hooking fish), manari (menari, dancing), mancari (mencari, searching), mamasa (memasak, cooking), manangis (menangis, crying).

Other words

Several words in standard Indonesian are shortened in Manado Malay. For example:

pi (standard Indonesian: pergi, "to go")

mo pi mana ngoni? ("where are you people going?")

co (standard Indonesian: coba, "to try")

co lia ini oto ("try have a look at this car")

so (standard Indonesian: sudah, "have/has done")

so klar? ("have you finished?"), so maleleh? ("has it molten?"), so kanyang? ("are your stomachs full yet?")

ta (standard Indonesian: awalan ter, passive prefix)

tasono? ("fallen asleep") , tajatung? ("fallen"), tagoso ("being rubbed")



Due to the past colonisation by the Dutch and the Portuguese in Sulawesi, several words of Manado Malay originate from their languages.

Standard Indonesian Manado Malay loanword Language of Origin English meaning
topi capéo Portuguese (chapéu) cap, hat
bosan fastíu Portuguese (fastio) bored
untuk for Dutch (voor) for
garpu fork Dutch (vork) fork
tenggorokan gargántang Portuguese (garganta) throat
kursi kadéra Portuguese (cadeira) chair
bendera bandéra Portuguese (bandeira) flag
saputangan lénso Portuguese (lenço) handkerchief
tapi mar Dutch (maar) but
jagung mílu Portuguese (milho) corn, maize
sudah klar Dutch (klaar) finished
paman om Dutch (oom) uncle
nenek oma Dutch (oma) grandmother
kakek opa Dutch (opa) grandfather
teduh sómbar Portuguese (sombra) shade
keringat suár Portuguese (suar) sweat
bibi tánte Dutch (tante) aunt
dahi tésta Portuguese (testa) forehead, temple
penyu tuturúga Portuguese (tartaruga) turtle
sepatu chapátu Portuguese (sapato) shoe(s)
kebun kintál Portuguese (quintal) (agricultural) field or garden

Indonesian loanwords from Manado Malay

Several words in Manado Malay are loaned to standard Indonesian:


  1. ^ Manado Malay at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Allen, Robert B.; Hayami-Allen, Rika (2002). Macken, M. (ed.). Orientation in the Spice Islands (PDF). Papers from the Tenth Annual Meeting of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society. Program for Southeast Asian Studies, Arizona State University. p. 21.
  3. ^ John Bowden (December 2005). "Language Contact and Metatypic Restructuring in the Directional System of North Maluku Malay" (PDF). Concentric: Studies in Linguistics. 31 (2): 133–158. Retrieved 2021-07-29.
  4. ^ a b Warouw, Martha Salea (1985). Kamus Manado-Indonesia (PDF). Jakarta: Pusat Pembinaan dan Pengembangan Bahasa.