Malay, Baba


A language of Singapore

Alternate Names
Baba, Chinese Malay, Straits Malay

10,000 in Singapore (Pakir 1986). Population total all countries: 12,000. Ethnic population: 250,000–400,000 (1986).


Mainly Katong District, east coast and surrounding Geylang and Jao Chiat districts. Also in Malaysia.

Language Maps
Language Status

7 (Shifting).


It developed after 15th century from Low Malay with many Min Nan Chinese [nan] borrowings. Regional variants between Malacca and Singapore. Partially intelligible with Standard Malay [zsm]. It is generally believed that Baba of Malaysia is more, refined, and that of Singapore more, rough. Most learn Standard Malay and English in school. Distinct from Peranakan Indonesian [pea]. Baba in Melaka, Malaysia speak a Hokkien-influenced Malay creole; those in Penang, Malaysia speak a localized version of Hokkien [hnh] (2006, Tan Chee Beng).

Language Use

Mainly in the home. Mainly older adults. Some who grew up with Chinese neighbors know Min Nan Chinese [nan], Teochew dialect of Min Nan Chinese, and Cantonese [yue]. Children now learn Mandarin [cmn] in school rather than Standard Malay [zsm].

Language Development
NT: 1913.
Latin script.

Also spoken in:

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