Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Baba and Nyonya heritage dying?? Part 1

Many might be asking, what's Baba and Nyonya or some might call it Peranakan. To learn more about the heritage you can google it here.
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Today's post is to learn about the language. Being a half breed baba has its pros and cons. Firstly, being a Baba, I've mastered the Malay language. How?? Coz I converse in our traditional language at home most of the time. Many of my friends gave me a puzzled look whenever they are around, and by the smirky look on their faces, I can tell they're contemplating whether my mom was stabbing behind their back or otherwise. The bad news is, since my father passed on, I hardly spent time with my father's side of the family, hence the broken Chinese language. But of course, we always learn the foul language first. That.....I've mastered since childhood. Hey...it's really not a bad thing. You're still learning the language what???
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Anyways, the Baba and Nyonya language is a combination of the Malay language as well as a hint of Hokkien. For example, if you want to say you want to go somewhere...say to the market, you'd have to say
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"Gua mo pegi pa-sey" = I want to go to the market
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The usual words that we would use are these examples :-
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1. Gua = I
2. Lu = You
3. Mo = Want / Mahu
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Other words are kinda like the Malay language. Here are some examples....
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"Tolong ambik tok-poh" = Please hand me the cloth.
"Gua mo naik lo-teng" = I'm going upstairs
"Gua mo pi buang air kechik" = I'm going to pee
"Mok-sia-neo tu mo apa?" = What's that freak want??
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What's so special about the language? There's nothing really much to brag about it, but the language is fading away. Why? The modern Baba and Nyonya, do not use the language to communicate any more. It's kinda sad, really. Gone are the days where you see young Nyonya girls wearing Kebaya walking around town except for some festivals. Some may say.....either she's mad or she has lack sense of style. Today's style is all about Louis Vuitton, Coach, Hugo Boss and Calvin Klein. It is difficult to spot a full bred Baba and Nyonya in town, even in Melaka. They are around of course, but difficult. Some may not even claim to be one.
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This post may not be complete coz it's difficult to teach the language without conversing in one. You may want to post some comments/questions on specific sentences, and I'll be more than happy to assist you.

17 comments:

Miss Zane said...

LOL
this language is funny, i understand mostly, similar to Indonesian, or Melayu. Ja ja, it's been a really realy long time i haven't heard anyone uses them again.. nor see a Baba and Nyonya. :D

Josephine said...

never knew u r half BABA.
so, u call ur mama MA or NYA?

The Nyonya trend is very HIT in SG now because of the Little Nyonya drama.

Calvin Soo KJ said...

ms zane, its not quite indonesian, much more to bahasa melayu. most baba n nyonya are reluctant to show their true identity....im still wondering why.

jo, nya is used by outsiders or relatives to my mum. i call my mum various ways coz now modern mah.... :)

chrisau said...

nowadays ...people view peranakans as from the little nyonya show. Dun think they knew peranakans actually speak malay and hokkien.

suituapui said...

My aunt used to make the embroidered kebaya blouses but since she passed away, no one in the family making anymore. My mum and sisters all wore sarong kebaya with the silver belt and beaded shoes...but the present generation, none would wear! And the young ones do not know how to cook the delicacies or make the kuihs. They would rather go and eat KFC of McDs. So sad hor...

Chris said...

quite an interesting language...

Kikey Loo said...

you can open a class teach baba n nyonya language.. hehe.. :D

cleffairy said...

My maternal grandma is a nyonya... but I'm not close to her because she did not raise my mom. Sent my mom away to be raised by other ppl when she's a baby. Hmm... does that make me a nyoya by blood too? *gasps* I tink my blood diluted lah... cuz I'm pure banana...I remembered that my grandma walks around in her elegant and somehow transparent kebaya on daily basis. And she very anti 'Pompuan kabaret' too, like most nyoya. The only thing that my maternal grandma and I have in common is our cucuk sanggul. o.O

cleffairy said...

Oh yeah... actually I know why some baba%nyoya ppl are afraid to expose their true heritage. It's because they are afraid to be mistaken for a Malay. No kidding punya.

Calvin Soo KJ said...

chrisau, that's so sad. so, im on a mission to revive the peranakan heritage....wish me luck.

stp, that's why my mum is starting this back in our hometown. going shopping with kebaya will make other patrons wonder....heheheh. my mom is teaching rachel to cook our local delicacies. started her cooking lessons since chap goh mei.....actually not bad for a start. i'll post some pictures later :)

chris, ya...it is kinda interesting coz the language is a combination of malay and hokkien.

kikey, i dont think people takes the language quite seriously.....even the modern peranakan dont give a hoot. so sad....

clef, arent all our blood diluted...hehehehe. if that's the case, then you should have at least 1/4 nyonya, welcome to the club. but for those who are afraid to disclose their identity, id say shame on them. we should be proud of our roots. tell them you're baba and nyonya lar, i think they might even be interested to know more :)

C.Alv.B said...

Wah..I love the language too..I remeber I've a friend during my school time talked like that. But the funny things is..I dont know it is Baba and Nyonya hehehe

Calvin Soo KJ said...

c.alv.b, if you have time, try going over to melaka or singapore. best yet in singapore coz they do have a peranakan village over there. take time to listen and you'll be humored by some of the old nyonyas, by the way they talk with actions. else, you can always come to my humble home :)

cleffairy said...

Hmmm... I'm not ashame, but I suspect that wearing kebaya will make me look like a plywood than a human. LMAO...too shapeless to wear a kebaya... ahahaha... aiyoo... wud a waste lah! LOL...omg, I'm in serious need of flattening up!

Calvin Soo KJ said...

clef....hahahaha. plywood!!! not that bad lar i guess. can wear push ups mah....lol. you need flattening or faterring, else more flat.....lmao

cleffairy said...

Alamak... typos... nid to fatten up lah... lmao...

adelene said...

hi was google searching on baba and nyonya's language and came across this post of urs. I'm a half nyonya myself and im really proud to be one of them =) and i still do speak this language at home especially with my mum and mum's side relatives. Dont worry, there's many more of us still speaking this language in Melaka. Hope our culture just dont fade as generation goes by. =)

adelene said...

btw, i find nyonya kebaya very appealing and i always wish i could just use it to the mall but like u said, ppl will just stare and think if we are a freak... sigh~