Peranakan Language


The language of the Peranakans, Baba Malay (Bahasa Melayu Baba), is a creole dialect of the Malay Language (Bahasa Melayu), which contains many of the words from the Chinese Hokkien dialect. It is a dying language, and its contemporary use is mainly limited to members of the older generation. English has now replaced this as the main language spoken amongst the younger generation.

Young Peranakans have lost many of their language, so there is normally a difference in vocabulary between the older and younger generations.

A glossary of some of the popular Baba Nyonya words:

WORD MEANING
Amek Take
Apa khabair How are you?
Apasair Why?
Arimo Tiger
Bak wan Pork meatball
Bakol Sia A red and black lacquered bamboo basket with cover
Besair Big
Bibik Form of address for an elderly lady
Bikin Make
Bini Wife
Brani Brave
Bukan No

WORD MEANING
Cha Kiak Wooden Clogs
Changkir Cup
Chap chai Mixed vegetable stew
Chebok To clean oneself up after defecating
Cherki A traditional Nyonya card game
Chi wan Bathroom
Gua I/Me
Ia Yes
Jantan Man/male
Kachuak Cockroach
Kalu If
Kam Cheng Porcelain jar with cover
Kam Siah Thank you
Kasair Rough
Kek khi Annoyed/frustrated
Kek sim Unhappy/heartbroken
Kepiting Crab
Kopiah Hat
Kui Kneel
Kuping Ear
Kus Semangat An expression of surprise/mild shock

WORD MEANING
Laki Husband
Lapair Hungry
Lau Nuah Drooling
Lawa Stylish/good looking
Lecheh Troublesome
Lemo Lime
Lu You
Loteng Upstairs
Mo Want
Ohng Good luck
Omor Age
Pasair Market
Perot Stomach
Pi Go
Prompuan Woman/female
Ramay Well-attended/crowded (indicating many people)
Suay Bad luck
Sumpet Chopsticks
Temberang Bluff
Tim Double-boil
Tok Panjang Long (dining) table
Tu Cupboard
Ujan Rain
Ulair Snake

Reference: A Baba Malay Dictionary by William Gwee Thian Hock (Tuttle Publishing)

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