Manadonese — the unique language of the Smiling People

05/01/2018

During your stay here in North Sulawesi, one of the most immediate and lasting impressions is the ubiquitous sound of “Iyooooo” — Manadonese for “yes”.

Girl saying "yes" in bahasa Manado.

The impassioned, up- and downward sliding intonation of the word has a slightly familiar Latin-American ring to it. This is not surprising, since Manadonese has strong influences of Portuguese within its vernacular, so a lot of loanwords can be traced back to these colonial roots.

For example: a shoe is a “sapatu”, a hat is a “topi” (from capéo), and Indonesia’s red & white flag is a “bendéra”.

With under 1 million native speakers, Manado is so unique, that Javanese have a hard time understanding it. From Wikipedia:

Manado Malay is a creole of the Malay language. It differs from Malay in having a large number of Portuguese and Dutch loan words as a result of colonisation and having traits such as its use of “kita” as a first person singular pronoun, while “kita” is a first person inclusive plural pronoun in Malay. Simple Manado Malay sentences can be understood by speakers of standard Malay, albeit with varying degrees of difficulty.

It should also come as no surprise that Dutch loanwords are embedded in Bahasa Manado. Just look at these examples:

Indo/Manado

Dutch

English

Fork

Vork

Fork

Bok

Bocht

Corner (road)

Baspik

Spieken

Peeking

Klar

Klaar

Finished

Kakarlak

Kakkerlak

Cockroach

Birman

Buurman

Neighbor

Mar

Maar

But

Om

Oom

Uncle

Opa

Opa

Grandpa

 

Some of our colleagues were happy to provide a few more phrases as well!


Arjen