Structure dataset 68: Ambon Malay

This language is described more fully in survey chapter 68.

Ambon Malay is spoken in the central and southern Molouccas islands in eastern Indonesia, by about 200,000 native speakers located on the island of Ambon and neighboring islands, as well as in urban locations in the southern Moluccas. In addition, it is widely used as a second language throughout the central and southern Moluccas, by as many as a million speakers. There are also significant communities of speakers of Ambon Malay in Jakarta (the capital of Indonesia) and in the Netherlands (where it is known as Melajoe Sini ‘Malay here’). Ambon Malay is known as Malayu Ambong by its speakers, who often view it as an inferior variety of Indonesian (which is also a language also derived from an older variety of Malay). Since Ambon Malay is seen as a low form of Indonesian, there is wide-scale variation in the language, from a basilectal variant to something closer to Indonesian, but still retaining features of the basilectal variety. This variation is caused by the formality of the domain, the education of the speakers, and the degree to which they identify with the community. There is also variation between the speech of native speakers and second language speakers, who may be influenced by their native languages to varying degrees. Among native speakers, there are two primary variants, one spoken by Muslims, and located mainly on the northern Hitu peninsula of the island, and another spoken by Christians, spoken on the southern Lei Timor peninsula, including the city of Ambon. The description in APiCS is based on both of these variants. The variety spoken in the Netherlands has diverged significantly from the Ambon Malay spoken in the homeland over the past 60 years.

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
Non-sibilant fricative f h
Approximant l j
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 alow central unrounded vowel

Special segments

Other segments
 w  voiced labial-velar glide


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