About Peranakans

Baba Nyonya

Peranakan Chinese (Peranakan Cina) and Baba-Nyonya are terms used for the descendants of late 15th and 16th-century Chinese immigrants to the Nusantara region during the Colonial era.

Nyonya is the term for the ladies, while Baba for the gentlemen. It applies especially to the ethnic Chinese populations of the British Straits Settlements of Malaya and the Dutch-controlled island of Java and other locations, who have adopted partially or in full Nusantara customs to be somewhat assimilated into the local communities.

Most Peranakans have lived for generations along the Straits of Malacca and not all intermarried with the local Native Indonesians and Malays. Mostly are of Hoklo (Hokkien) ancestry, although a sizable number are of Teochew or Cantonese descent. Originally, the Peranakan were mixed-race descendants, part Chinese, part Malay/Indonesian.

Peranakans were usually traders, the middleman of the British and the Chinese, or the Chinese and Malays, or vice versa due to the fact that they were mostly English educated. Because of this, they almost always had the ability to speak two or more languages. However, in later generations, some lost the ability to speak Chinese as they became assimilated to the Malay Peninsula's culture and started to speak Malay fluently as a first or second language.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peranakan