Structure dataset 42: Papiá Kristang

This language is described more fully in survey chapter 42.

Papiá Kristang is a Portuguese-based creole spoken by approximatey 800 people in Malacca, West Malaysia, and by smaller numbers of descendents of Malacca creoles in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, and an unknown number who migrated to Australia (principally Perth), New Zealand and the United Kingdom in the second half of the 20th century. Its core speech community is in the Portuguese Settlement, a housing development established in the 1930s, in a coastal setting at the south of Malacca town, on land where only Kristangs are permitted to reside. Papiá Kristang is constantly used in this setting. It is overwhelmingly oral, although there have been a number of initiatives over the years to write the language and, currently, a voluntary vernacular school is operating in the Portuguese Settlement. The language today is under threat from a strong shift towards English within the creole community. The default lect described in APICS is that of the Portuguese Settlement, corresponding to the speech of people in the 50-80 year age range, who have provided recordings, and judgements on structures extracted from field recordings, at various times over three decades. While another lect of Papiá Kristang is reported to have existed in Malacca earlier in the 20th century, in the Trankera suburb of the town, this lect was not observable in the late 20th century.

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No. Feature Value Details Source
No. Feature Value Details Source


Pulmonic Consonants
Place → Labial Coronal Dorsal Laryngeal
↓ Manner Bilabial Labio­dental Linguo­labial Dental Alveolar Palato-
Retroflex Alveolo-
Palatal Velar Uvular Pharyngeal
/ Epiglottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Stop p b t d k g
Sibilant affricate t͡ʃ d͡ʒ
Non-sibilant affricate
Sibilant fricative s z
Non-sibilant fricative f v
Approximant l
Flap or tap
Trill r
Lateral affricate
Lateral fricative
Lateral approximant
Lateral flap


Front Near-front Central Near-back Back Close Near-close Close-mid Mid Open-mid Near-open Open ihigh front unrounded vowel uhigh back rounded vowel ehigher mid front unrounded vowel ohigher mid back rounded vowel əmid central unrounded vowel ɛlower mid front unrounded vowel ɔlower mid back rounded vowel alow central unrounded vowel

Special segments

Other segments


       Exists (as a major allophone)
       Exists only as a minor allophone
       Exists only in loanwords
No. Feature Value Details Source