This is but the tip of the ice-berg

This is but the tip of the ice-berg. The case-in-point is that there are Malay components in Baba Malay, but not in the entirely same guises you would imagine. Malay aside, it is important to also consider the role of Hokkien. While some may differ on the extent of Hokkien influence on Baba Malay (Pakir 1986), everyone is in general agreement that Baba Malay has undeniably Hokkien elements. This is evident from the fact that I have at least four different ways of saying “uncle”. I call my father’s elder brothers pék, my father’s younger brother chék, my mother’s brother ku, and my father’s sister’s husband and my mother’s sister’s husband tio. Trust me, this Hokkien-derived kinship system gets even more complicated when you assign your relatives numbers to go with their seniority.

But wait—it gets even better: to fully understand Baba Malay, you have to appreciate all the other elements in it, such as the fact that mentéga ‘butter’, menjéla ‘window’ and aloji ‘clock’ were derived from Portuguese words manteiga, janela and relógio respectively. Much like the iték tim, Baba Malay is a happy hodgepodge of different languages and cultures.

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