Manado Malay

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

Manado Malay is a language spoken in Manado 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 only for spoken communication, there is no standard orthography.

Manado Malay is actually a creole of the Malay language. It differs from Malay in having a large number of Portuguese and Dutch loan words and in traits like for example its use of "kita" as a first person singular pronoun, while "kita" is a first person inclusive plural pronoun in Malay.

Word stress[edit]

Most words have stress on the pre-final syllable:

  • words in from Bahasah Manado in the mixture of Portuguese and Dutch
kaDEra 'chair'
STEnga 'half'
DOi 'money'

But there are also many words with final stress:

buTUL 'right, correct, true'
toLOR 'egg' saBONG 'soap'



  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

The W-Words[edit]

Why = KYApa?

Where = di MAna?

Who = SApa?

Which one(s) = tu MAna?

Grammatical aspect[edit]

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

  • Dorang ada turun pigi Wenang = "They already went down to Wenang"
  • Torang so makan = "We ate already", or "We have eaten already".
  • kita- me, myself, i or we, us
  • torang- we, us

Nasal finals[edit]

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. :

  • makang (Indonesian makan) = "to eat",
  • jalang (Indonesian jalan) = "to walk",
  • sirang (Indonesian siram) = "to shower" etc.


"Ba" prefix[edit]

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)

"Me" prefix[edit]

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[edit]

Several words in standard Indonesian is 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)

Indonesian loanwards from Manado Malay[edit]

Several words in Manado Malay is loaned to the standard Indonesian:

  • baku (which indicates reciprocality) e.g. : baku hantam (to punch each other), baku ajar (to hit each other), baku veto (to debate one another), baku sedu (to laugh oneselves off), baku dapa (to meet each other).

Manado Malay loanwords from other languages[edit]

Due to the past colonisation by the Dutch and the Portuguese in Sulawesi, several words of this language originates from their languages.

Standard Indonesian Manado Malay loanword Language of Origin English meaning
topi capeo Portuguese (chapéu) cap, hat
bosan fastiu Portuguese (fastio) bored
untuk for Dutch (voor) for
garpu fork Dutch (vork) fork
tenggorokan gargantang Portuguese (garganta) throat
kursi kadera Portuguese (cadeira) chair
bendera bandera Portuguese (bandeira) flag
saputangan lenso Portuguese (lenço) handkerchief
tapi mar Dutch (maar) but
jagung milu Portuguese (milho) corn, maize
Paman om Dutch (oom) uncle
nenek oma Dutch (oma) grandmother
kakek opa Dutch (opa) grandfather
bayangan sombar Portuguese (sombra) shadow
keringat suar Portuguese (suar) sweat
Bibi tante Dutch (tante) aunt
dahi testa Portuguese (testa) forehead, temple
penyu tuturuga Portuguese (tartaruga) turtle
sepatu chapatu Portuguese (sapato) shoe(s)
kebun kintal Portuguese (quintal) (agricultural) field or garden


  1. ^ Manado Malay at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)