Palembang language

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Musi, Palembang Malay
Baso Palembang
Native toIndonesia
RegionSouth Sumatra
EthnicityPalembangese people Malays of southern Sumatra
Native speakers
3.1 million (2000 census)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3mui

Palembang, also known as Palembang Malay or Musi,[a] is a Malayic language primarily spoken in about two thirds of South Sumatra Province in Indonesia, especially along the Musi River. It consists of two separate but mutually intelligible dialect chains: Musi and Palembang.[1] The Palembang dialect is a koiné that was born in Palembang, the capital city of South Sumatra. It has become a lingua franca throughout major population centers in the province, and is often used polyglossically with Indonesian and other regional languages and dialects in the area.[4] Since parts of South Sumatra used to be under direct Javanese rule for quite a long time, the speech varieties of Palembang and its surrounding area are significantly influenced by Javanese, down to their core vocabularies.[5]


Dunggio (1983) lists 26 phonemes for the Palembang dialect; specifically, there are 20 consonants and 6 vowels.[6] However, another study by Aliana (1987) states that there are only 25 phonemes in Palembang, reanalyzing /z/ as and allophone of /s/ and /d͡ʒ/ instead.[7]


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.[8]


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


  1. ^ The name "Palembang" can refer both to the urban Palembang dialect, distinct from Musi dialect proper, or to the whole Palembang/Musi dialect group.[1] This term is also the most popular endonym for the language and is prominently used in the academic literature.[3]


  1. ^ a b c Musi language at Ethnologue (22nd ed., 2019)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Musi". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Alsamadani, Mardheya; Taibah, Samar (2019). "Types and Functions of Reduplication in Palembang". Journal of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society. 12 (1): 113.
  4. ^ McDonnell 2016, p. 13.
  5. ^ Tadmor, Uri (16–17 June 2001). Language Contact and Historical Reconstruction: The Case of Palembang Malay. 5th International Symposium on Malay/Indonesian Linguistics. Leipzig.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  6. ^ Dunggio 1983, pp. 7-10.
  7. ^ Aliana 1987, p. 14.
  8. ^ Dunggio 1983, pp. 21-22.


  • Aliana, Zainul Arifin (1987). Morfologi dan sintaksis bahasa Melayu Palembang [The morphology and syntax of Palembang Malay] (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Pursat Pembinaan dan Pengembangan Bahasa, Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • Dunggio, P.D. (1983). Struktur bahasa Melayu Palembang [The structure of Palembang Malay] (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Pusat Pembinaan dan Pengembangan Bahasa, Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  • McDonnell, Bradley (2016). Symmetrical voice constructions in Besemah: a usage-based approach (PhD Dissertation). Santa Barbara: University of California Santa Barbara.