Baba Nyonya Language
Baba Nyonya’s language is a creole dialect of Malay
Language, where most of it contains word from Chinese Hokkien dialect. Baba is
used to call male Peranakan and Nyonya is used to call female Peranakan. Bibik
is the term used for an older female Peranakan. Baba Nyonya is a endangering language.
Baba Nyonya’s language had been replaced by English amongst the younger
generation. The use of language between younger and older generations are
difference because younger generations are not taking their language serious
and they have lost most of their language.
The example of some of the popular Baba Nyonya
How are you?
Form of address for an elderly lady
/ Good looking
pronounce the words ending with “a” with an “ah” sound, but Malays pronounce it
as “er”. For example Malay words “saya”, “apa”, “punya”, they pronounce it
“sayer”, “aper” and “punyer”, whereas Baba pronounce it “sayah”, “apah”, and
Nyonya usually can be found at Penang, Malacca and Singapore. At difference
place, the language of Baba Nyonya used is also different. At Penang, Baba
Nyonya speaks more Hokkien Language which is influenced from the male language.
At Malacca, Baba Nyonya base on the Malay language which comes from the female
side and at Singapore the language is based on the English language which
influenced by the western culture. Baba Malay are endangering because nowadays
the younger generations are sent to English or Chinese school to learn another
The birth celebration of Baba Nyonya.
During the full lunar month muar-guay ceremony, which happens,
thirty days after the birth of the child Nyonyas would hold a ceremony whereby
nasi kunyit (steamed glutinous turmeric rice), chicken curry and red bean cakes
in the shape of tortoises (ang-koo) together with either ang-t’oe or ang-ee and
two red hard-boiled chicken eggs would be offered to the ancestors. The
muar-guay ceremony also marks the end of the abstinence period for the baby’s
mother as was also practiced by the Malay women after giving birth.
The death celebration of Baba Nyonya
Priestess will be invited to help clean and dress the deceased with
white pyjamas which he worn on his wedding eve before placing the body in the
coffin. The Peranakan believed that death is a continuation of living. Thus,
goods such as money, televisions or motor cars, represented in paper crafts and
made in miniature, are burnt as offerings. The family of the deceased is to
mourn for a total of one-and-a half years. They wear black for the next three
months. At death house, all mirrors and other reflecting surfaces were covered
or concealed while all household deities were covered with red paper.
The celebration of Baba Nyonya Wedding
Baba nyonya’s weddings are old combination of Chinese and Malay
elements in the wedding ceremonies. The Malay influence was apparent in the
language used, the jewelry, the proceedings, the use of the mak andam and pak
chindek, the use of the pak boyan in the wedding procession and other examples.
They begin with the presentation of the birth certificates “Sang Jee” and
preparation of the bridal chamber “Ann Ching”, on this day at the chosen time,
bananas, yams and citronella plants are placed under the bridal bed by a young
boy “Koh Yah” who is privileged to roll thrice on the bridal bed for the first
On the eve of the Wedding besides mid-day luncheon or dinner being
given “Chia Lang Khek” the gifts for the bride and groom – to – be are
exchanged. The Cheo Thau ceremony is most important ceremonies and marks the
first occasion when the bride and bridegroom have to wear their authentic
wedding robes. The father then prays at the High Altar and offers wine to God,
the Creator, by pouring wine four times on the floor. Following this he offers
a sip of wine from the same cup to his beloved daughther who is now a woman.
The finale of the wedding ceremony would be the Twelfth Day ceremony, where the
marriage would be conformed and approved by proof of the bride’s virginity.