(Language Post) : Peranakan Language

Peranakan means descendant, stemmed of ‘anak’ which means ‘children or offsprings’. Peranakan is directed to descendants of Chinese immigrants who came to South East Asia especially Malay Peninsula and Indonesian archipelago between 15th-19th centuries. Though Peranakan also can be attributed to Indian, European and Arab descendants. Their influences are vibrant and can be traced in almost all life aspects. While in terms of language, many Chinese words particularly Hokkien dialect have been absorbed and adapted to -particularly- Indonesian languages.

Indonesian Chinese is practically bi or multilingual. Various dialects such as Hokkien and Teochiew were spoken widely in the past, besides vernacular languages depend on where they live. But Indonesian Chinese also developed Chinese-Malay literature by publishing many works either novel, poems, prose and roman. Initially it was translation from Chinese into Bazaar Malay (which is in turn derived into Jakartan-styled Indonesian). After Chinese schools and all Chinese cultural aspects were banned between 1966-1998, and also name changing policy for Chinese, Chinese cultures are so declining. One of the effects is nowadays most younger generations can no longer speak Chinese dialects particularly in Java and Eastern Indonesia. While in Sumatera, Bangka-Belitung and Kalimantan, Chinese is still able to speak their ancestor’s language besides Bahasa and vernacular languages.

One of their language variations is Peranakan language itself. It is a creolized form of Malay/Indonesian. It shouldn’t confused to Baba Malay spoken in Malaysia and Singapore, though it has got same root. Peranakan language is spoken particularly among Chinese in Central Java and East Java, but the exact number of speakers are unclear as they also speak Javanese. While Mandarin Chinese is learnt by some as foreign language.

The features of Peranakan Language are :

Javanism. Though it is based on Malay/Indonesian, but Javanese influences are so numerous. Even their accent is also deep like Javanese when they speak.
For example :
Sinio! (Come here!), in Javanese it should be mreneo!, but in Bahasa : Kesinilah!
Makanen sa’adae (Just eat it!), in Javanese : panganen sak anane, Bahasa : Makanlah seadanya.
Pergio ndik sana (Go there!), Javanese : Mronoo!, Bahasa : Pergilah kesana. Ndik here is Javanese influence.
Ndak isak/iso (I can’t), Javanese: Ora/Gak iso, Bahasa : Tidak bisa
Nti’ (later), Javanese : mengko, Bahasa : Nanti. Abbreviation of Nanti.
Yak apa (How) It is derived from Yok opo which typically East Javanese and only known by East Javanese Chinese.
Ini bukune ceceku (This is my sister’s book). Cece is from Chinese means sister, while e derived from Javanese.
Nanti barange tak ambile (I’ll take the stuff later). It is Javanese grammatical influence. In Bahasa means : Nanti barangnya saya ambil.
Javanese : mengko barange tak jupuke.
Aku ndak tau cara mbocoe (I don’t know how to read it). Mboco is should be moco in Javanese and Membaca in Bahasa.
Liak (see) from Lihat (Bahasa).

Those are above small examples. Chinese words are also found particularly talking about family terminology, counting system and it depends on the speakers. As I heard in daily live, many younger even speak purely Javanese among themselves and the accents between Peranakan language in Central Java and East Java are influenced by their surroundings. Speakers from Surabaya are usually very deep and harsh in speaking, akin to their Javanese counterparts.

I still remember when I visited Malaysia more than five years ago, and came to Putrajaya, I saw a Chinese family passing through in front on me. But when they started to speak, they speak Indonesian with East Javanese accent. I could tell as the accent is so familiar. Even my Malaysian uncle said : “No, Bangsamu.” (No, your country fellow). No is last syllable of my nickname then.

All right, that’s diversity. I hope it won’t be lost as it is so unique and differentiate from others.

Have a nice weekend


4 May 2013

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Hanno Phenn says:

    Very interesting .I am not sure if I understand it completely.Well I certainly will have a good think about it.

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