The language of the Peranakans

The language of the Peranakans, Baba Malay (Bahasa Melayu Baba), is a creole language related to the Malay language (Bahasa Melayu), which contains many Hokkien words. It is a dying language, and its contemporary use is mainly limited to members of the older generation.

The Peranakan Malay spoken by the Malaccan Peranakans community is strongly based on the Malay language as most of them can only speak little to none of the language of their Chinese forebears.14 Whereas in the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia, the Peranakans are known to not only speak a Hokkien version of their own but also Thai and Kelantanese Malay dialect in Kelantan, and Terengganu Malay dialect in Terengganu respectively.1516 Unlike the rest of the Peranakans in Malaysia, Penang Peranakans in comparison are much heavily influenced by a variant of Hokkien dialect known locally as Penang Hokkien.

In Indonesia, the Peranakan language is mainly based on Bahasa Indonesia and Javanese language that is mixed with elements of Chinese language, mostly Hokkien dialect. Speakers of the Peranakan language can be found scattered along the northern coastline area throughout West Java, Central Java and East Java, and also in Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia.17 Young Peranakans can still speak this creole language, although its use is limited to informal occasions.

Today, young Peranakans especially have lost much of their traditional language. Therefore, that has resulted in a difference in vocabulary between the older and younger generation especially now that English and Mandarin have replaced Peranakan Malay as the main languages spoken amongst the younger generation