Manado Malay
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Manado Malay
Manado Malay
Bahasa Manado
Native toIndonesia
RegionNorth Sulawesi
Native speakers
850,000 (2001)[1]
Malay Creole
  • East Indonesian
    • Manado Malay
Language codes

Manado Malay, or simply the Manado language, is a creole language spoken in Manado, the capital of North Sulawesi province in Indonesia, 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 a creole of the Malay language. It differs from Malay in having numerous Portuguese and Dutch loan words as a result of colonisation and having traits such as its use of "kita" as a first person singular pronoun, while "kita" is a first person inclusive plural pronoun in Malay. Simple Manado Malay sentences can be understood by speakers of standard Malay, albeit with varying degrees of difficulty.

Word stress

Most words have stress on the pre-final syllable:

kadéra 'chair'
sténga 'half'
dói 'money'

But there are also many words with final stress:

butúl 'right, correct, true'
tolór 'egg; testicle'
sabóng 'soap'



Pronoun 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

Interrogative words

The following are the interrogative words or "w-words" in Manado Malay:

English Manado Malay
why kyápa
where di mána
who sápa
which one(s) tu mána

Grammatical aspect

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

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

Nasal finals

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

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)

"ma(°)-" prefix

° = ng, n, or m depending on phonological context.

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

Several words in standard Indonesian are 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 loanwords from Manado Malay

Several words in Manado Malay are loaned to 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

Due to the past colonisation by the Dutch and the Portuguese in Sulawesi, several words of Manado Malay originate from their languages.

Standard Indonesian Manado Malay loanword Language of Origin English meaning
topi capéo Portuguese (chapéu) cap, hat
bosan fastíu Portuguese (fastio) bored
untuk for Dutch (voor) for
garpu fork Dutch (vork) fork
tenggorokan gargántang Portuguese (garganta) throat
kursi kadéra Portuguese (cadeira) chair
bendera bandéra Portuguese (bandeira) flag
saputangan lénso Portuguese (lenço) handkerchief
tapi mar Dutch (maar) but
jagung mílu Portuguese (milho) corn, maize
sudah klar Dutch (klaar) finished
paman om Dutch (oom) uncle
nenek oma Dutch (oma) grandmother
kakek opa Dutch (opa) grandfather
teduh sómbar Portuguese (sombra) shade
keringat suár Portuguese (suar) sweat
bibi tánte Dutch (tante) aunt
dahi tésta Portuguese (testa) forehead, temple
penyu tuturúga Portuguese (tartaruga) turtle
sepatu chapátu Portuguese (sapato) shoe(s)
kebun kintál Portuguese (quintal) (agricultural) field or garden


  1. ^ Manado Malay at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Manado Malay". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

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