Betawi language

bahasa Betawi / بهاس بتاوي
Native toIndonesia
Native speakers
5 million (2000 census)[1]
DialectsCocos Malay
Language codes
ISO 639-3bew

Betawi Malay, also known as Jakartan Malay or Batavian Malay, is the spoken language of the Betawi people in Jakarta, Indonesia. It is the native language of perhaps 5 million people; a precise number is difficult to determine due to the vague use of the name.

Betawi Malay is a popular informal language in contemporary Indonesia, used as the base of Indonesian slang and commonly spoken in Jakarta TV soap operas. The name Betawi stems from Batavia, the official name of Jakarta during the era of the Dutch East Indies. Colloquial Jakarta Indonesian, a vernacular form of Indonesian that has spread from Jakarta into large areas of Java and replaced existing Malay dialects, has its roots in Betawi Malay. According to Uri Tadmor, there is no clear border distinguishing Colloquial Jakarta Indonesian from Betawi Malay.[3]


The origin of Betawi is of debate to linguists; many consider it to be a Malay dialect descended from Proto-Malayic, while others consider it to have developed as a creole. It is believed that descendants of Chinese men and Balinese women in Batavia converted to Islam and spoke a pidgin that was later creolized, and then decreolized incorporating many elements from Sundanese and Javanese (Uri Tadmor 2013).[4]

Betawi has large amounts of Hokkien Chinese, Arabic, Portuguese, and Dutch loanwords. It replaced the earlier Portuguese creole of Batavia, Mardijker. The first-person pronoun gua (I or me) and second-person pronoun lu (you) and numerals such as cepek (a hundred), gopek (five hundred), and seceng (a thousand) are from Hokkien, whereas the words ane (I or me) and ente (you) are derived from Arabic. Cocos Malay, spoken in the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, Australia and Sabah, Malaysia is believed to have derived from an earlier form of Betawi Malay.


Betawian Malay is divided into two main dialects

  • Betawi Kota dialect: Originally spoken within Jakarta with a greater use of e (e.g. ada becomes ade).
  • Betawi Udik dialect: Originally spoken in suburban Jakarta, Tangerang, Banten, Depok, Bogor and Bekasi in West Java. It has a greater use of extended a (e.g. ada, pronounced adah).

Another Betawi Udik variant is called Betawi Ora, which was highly influenced by Javanese.

Betawi is still spoken by the older generation in some locations on the outskirts of Jakarta, such as Kampung Melayu, Pasar Rebo, Pondok Gede, Ulujami, and Jagakarsa.[5]

There is a significant Chinese community which lives around Tangerang, called Cina Benteng, who have stopped speaking Chinese and now speak Betawian Malay.

Examples :

  • aye (kota), sayah (udik), gua (informal) : I
  • lu (informal or intimate) : you
  • iye (strong e, not schwa like Malaysian), iyah : yes
  • kagak, ora (udik variant and it is Javanese influence) : no
  • Encing mo pegi ke mane? : Where will you go, uncle?
  • Dagangan aye udeh bures, dah : My stuff has been sold out.

The ending of every word that ends with an "a" is pronounced "e" such as in "net" in Betawinese language. The "e" is pronounced different than the "e" spoken by Malaysian Malays.



All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Bahasa Indonesia

Semua orang dilahirkan merdeka dan mempunyai martabat dan hak-hak yang sama. Mereka dikaruniai akal dan hati nurani dan hendaknya bergaul sesama lain dalam semangat persaudaraan.

Bahasa Betawi

Semue orang ntu dilahirin bebas ame punye martabat dan hak-hak yang same. Mereka ntu dikasih akal ame ati nurani dan kudu bergaul satu ame lainnye dalem semangat persaudaraan.


  1. ^ Betawi at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Betawi". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Kozok, Uli (2016), Indonesian Native Speakers – Myth and Reality (PDF), p. 15
  4. ^ Tadmor, Uri (2013). "On the Origin of the Betawi and their Language" (PDF). ISMIL 17 conference talk.
  5. ^ "Documentation of Betawi" (PDF). Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig. Archived from the original on |archive-url= requires |archive-date= .
  • Ikranagara, Kay (1975). Melayu Betawi grammar (Ph. D. thesis). University of Hawaii at Manoa. hdl:10125/11720.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

External links

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