Palembang Malay
باسو ڤليمباڠ
Baso Pelémbang
Native toIndonesia
RegionSouth Sumatra
EthnicityPalembang Malay
Native speakers
1.6 million (2000 census)[1]
DialectsPalembang Lama
Palembang Pasar
Language codes
ISO 639-3plm retired and subsumed into mui[2]
Book cover of The Spelling Guidelines for Palembang Language, issued by South Sumatra Linguistic Center in 2007

Palembang, also known as Palembang Malay (Baso Pelémbang), is a Malayic variety of the Musi dialect group primarily spoken in the city of Palembang and nearby lowlands, and also as a lingua franca throughout South Sumatra. Since parts of the region used to be under direct Javanese rule for quite a long time, Palembang is significantly influenced by Javanese, down to its core vocabularies.[3]

While the name Palembang in the broad sense can also refer to the Musi dialect group as a whole,[4] it is most commonly used as an endonym for the speech used in the city and its immediate rural vicinity.[5][6]

In 2008, all the ISO 639-3 codes for Musi dialects, including [plm] for Palembang, were retired and merged into [mui] Musi. The old codes ([plm], [lmt], [pen], [rws]) are no longer in active use, but still have the meaning assigned to them when they were established in the Standard.[2]


Based on lexicostatistical analyses, mappings of sound changes, and mutual intelligibility tests, McDowell & Anderbeck (2020) classify Malayic varieties in southern Sumatra into two dialect groups, namely 1) South Barisan Malay (also called Central Malay or Middle Malay) and 2) Musi. Palembang is part of the Musi grouping, specifically the Palembang–Lowland cluster, which also includes the Lowland subcluster containing Belide, Lematang Ilir, and Penesak varieties.[7]

Internally, the Palembang subcluster can be divided into three dialects, namely 1) Palembang Lama ("Old" Palembang), 2) Palembang Pasar ("Bazaar" Palembang) and 3) Pesisir ("Coastal"). Palembang Lama refers to the traditional variety spoken natively by ethnic Palembang communities, both within the city and the "relic areas" around it. Meanwhile, Palembang Pasar is a koiné that has become a lingua franca to bridge interethnic communication in Palembang and other major population centers throughout the region. This variety is often used polyglossically with Indonesian (resulting in the so-called "Palembang Indonesian" variety) and other regional languages/dialects in the area, both Malayic and non-Malayic.[8][9]

In terms of lexicon, Palembang Lama retains many Javanese loanwords that are no longer used by speakers of Palembang Pasar. This decreasing number of Javanese loanwords used by Pasar speakers is linked to the rise of Standard Indonesian influence in the daily speech of urban areas. In terms of phonology, Pasar speakers also tend to realize Proto-Malayic *r as an apical trill [r] as in Standard Indonesian, instead of using voiced/voiceless velar fricative [ɣ~x] as is common among traditional speakers of Palembang Lama. Lastly, only traditional speakers consistently maintain a distinction between schwa and /a/ in final closed syllables.[10]

To the north and east of Palembang, towards the border with Jambi Province and the waters of Bangka Strait, there exists the Pesisir or Coastal variety, which is structurally very similar to the urban Palembang dialects. That said, Pesisir speech in the outer areas share high lexical similarity rates with neighboring Malayic lects of Jambi and Bangka.[11] In addition, Pesisir speakers are not as tied to the Palembang ethnic identity as the speakers in the urban Palembang area and its immediate vicinity.[12]


A girl speaking Palembang Pasar

Dunggio (1983) lists 26 phonemes for the Palembang dialect; specifically, there are 20 consonants and 6 vowels.[13] However, another study by Aliana (1987) states that there are only 25 phonemes in Palembang, reanalyzing /z/ as an allophone of /s/ and /d͡ʒ/ instead.[14]


front central back
close i u
mid e ə o
open a

In closed syllables, /i/ and /u/ are realized as [ɪ] and [ʊ], respectively.[15]


bilabial alveolar postalv./
velar glottal
nasal m n ɲ ŋ
stop voiceless p t t͡ʃ k ʔ
voiced b d d͡ʒ g
fricative voiceless s h
voiced (z) ɣ~ʀ
approximant semivowel w j
lateral l


An orthography has been made by the local office of Language Development and Fostering Agency. It is closely related to the Indonesian Spelling System, using the same 26-letters Latin alphabet with the optional use of the letter é.[16]

Example text

Palembang (Sari-Sari) Indonesian Malay Minangkabau English
Deklarasi Universal Pasal Hak Asasinyo Wong Pernyataan Umum tentang Hak-Hak Asasi Manusia Perisytiharan Hak Asasi Manusia Sejagat Deklarasi Sadunia Hak-Hak Asasi Manusia Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Pasal 1 Pasal 1 Perkara 1 Pasal 1 Article 1
Wong tu dilaherke merdeka galo, jugo samo-samo punyo martabat dengen hak galo. Wong-wong beroleh karunia akal dengen nurani, dan mestinyo besuo sikok samo laen dengen caro bedulur. Semua orang dilahirkan merdeka dan mempunyai martabat dan hak-hak yang sama. Mereka dikaruniai akal dan hati nurani dan hendaknya bergaul satu sama lain dalam semangat persaudaraan Semua manusia dilahirkan merdeka dan mempunyai martabat dan hak-hak yang sama. Mereka mempunyai pemikiran dan hati nurani dan hendaklah bergaul antara satu sama lain dengan semangat persaudaraan. Sadonyo manusia dilahiakan mardeka dan punyo martabat sarato hak-hak nan samo. Mareka dikaruniai aka jo hati nurani, supayo satu samo lain bagaul sarupo urang badunsanak. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.


  1. ^ McDowell & Anderbeck (2020), p. 14.
  2. ^ a b "Change Request Documentation: 2007-182". SIL International.
  3. ^ Tadmor, Uri (16–17 June 2001). Language Contact and Historical Reconstruction: The Case of Palembang Malay. 5th International Symposium on Malay/Indonesian Linguistics. Leipzig.
  4. ^ Musi at Ethnologue (27th ed., 2024) Closed access icon
  5. ^ Alsamadani, Mardheya; Taibah, Samar (2019). "Types and Functions of Reduplication in Palembang". Journal of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society. 12 (1): 113.
  6. ^ McDowell & Anderbeck 2020, p. 13–14.
  7. ^ McDowell & Anderbeck 2020, p. 10–12.
  8. ^ McDonnell 2016, p. 13.
  9. ^ McDowell & Anderbeck 2020, p. 12–14.
  10. ^ McDowell & Anderbeck 2020, p. 14–15.
  11. ^ McDowell & Anderbeck 2020, p. 15–16, 53.
  12. ^ McDowell & Anderbeck 2020, p. 112, 114.
  13. ^ Dunggio 1983, pp. 7–10.
  14. ^ Aliana 1987, p. 14.
  15. ^ Dunggio 1983, pp. 21–22.
  16. ^ Trisman, Bambang; Amalia, Dora; Susilawati, Dyah (2007). Twilovita, Nursis (ed.). Pedoman Ejaan Bahasa Palembang [Palembang Spelling System Guidelines] (in Indonesian). Palembang: Balai Bahasa Palembang, Provinsi Sumatera Selatan, Pusat Bahasa, Departemen Pendidikan Nasional. OCLC 697282757.