Sri Lankan Creole Malay

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Sri Lankan Malay
Native to Sri Lanka
Ethnicity Sri Lankan Malays
Native speakers
46,000 (2006)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 sci
Glottolog sril1245[2]

Sri Lankan Creole Malay (also known as Sri Lankan Malay and Bahasa Melayu) is an Austronesian creole language formed through a mixture of Sinhala and Tamil with Malay. Sri Lankan Malay is a restructured vernacular of Malay base spoken by at least five different communities in Sri Lanka which has evolved to be significantly divergent from other varieties of Malay due to intimate contact with the dominant languages of Sinhala and Tamil. Sri Lankan Creole Malay originated as a means of communication between the incoming Malays and the Sri Lankan people in the 13th century.[3] It is now exclusively spoken by Sri Lankan Malays, whose ancestry include exiles and labourers brought by the Dutch and British, as well as soldiers in the Dutch garrison. They now constitute 0.3% of the Sri Lankan population, some 46,000.

Sri Lankan Malay survives mostly through oral contact. However, there have been rare instances when it was written in Sinhala or Tamil alphabet. In the 19th century, Sri Lankan Malay was written in the Gundul alphabet, which was based on the Arabic alphabet with similarities to the Jawi alphabet. Although there have been attempts to revive the written form of Sri Lankan Malay, it is in decline because many Malay youth are starting to adopt Sinhala or Tamil and English at home.


  1. ^ Sri Lankan Malay at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Sri Lanka Malay". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-05-18. Retrieved 2015-05-08.  Sri Lankan Malay: A Unique Creole

Further reading[edit]

  • Ansaldo, U. 2008 Sri Lanka Malay revisited: Genesis and classification. In A. Dwyer, D. Harrison & D. Rood (eds). A world of many voices: Lessons from documented endangered languages. Typological Studies in Language 78. Amsterdam/ Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 13-42.
  • Nordhoff, S. 2009. A grammar of Upcountry Sri Lanka Malay. PhD Dissertation University of Amsterdam.
  • de Silva Jayasuriya, Shihan. 2002. Sri Lankan Malay: A unique creole. In Tadmor, Uri (ed.), Studies in Malay Dialects: Part III, 43-59. Jakarta: Universitas Atma Jaya.
  • Hussainmiya, B. A. n.d. Sri Lankan Malay Language: Some Preliminary. In.
  • Keeping Kirinda vital: The endangerment-empowerment dilemma in the documentation of Sri Lanka Malay ( pp. 51–66 ) . Lim, Lisa and Ansaldo, Umberto (2006) · ACLC Working Papers. 1
  • Nordhoff, Sebastian. forthcoming. Multi-verb constructions in Sri Lanka Malay. Journal of Pidgin and Creole Languages.
  • Nordhoff, Sebastian. 2007. Vowel quantity in Sri Lanka Malay. (paper presented at the Joint Summer Meeting of the SPCL and the ACBLPE).
  • Robuchon, G. 2003. Malayo Language in Sri Lanka. (Paper presented at the 7th International Symposium on the Malay/Indonesian Linguistics in Berg en Dal).
  • Ronit, R. (n.d.). Cross-Cultural Influences on the Language of the Sri Lankan Malays.
  • Slomanson, Peter. 2004. The syntax of tense and aspect in Sri Lankan Malay. (Paper presented at the SPCL summer meeting, Cura& cedil;cao Creole conference 2004, August 11–15, Cura& cedil;cao).

External links[edit]