Indonesian Words Originated from Chinese Dialect

Indonesian Words Originated from Chinese Dialect

There are more than 700 languages spoken in Indonesia. The official language is Bahasa Indonesia, a member of the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family. Indonesian language is primarily used in commerce, administration, education and the media.

The vast majority of Indonesian words are of Austronesian origin, and Indonesian shares over 80% of its vocabulary with standard Malay. There are also numerous words in Indonesian that are originated from Arabic, Sanskrit, Portuguese, Dutch, and certain Chinese dialects.

In particular, the Indonesian words that are borrowed from Chinese dialects mostly become ‘bahasa gaul’ or informal language that is used in oral communication. Here are few of common Indonesian words that are originated from Chinese or Cantonese dialects:

Indonesian Words Chinese Origin Meaning
Amoi 阿妹 a mōen Calling name for little girl
Anglo 烘爐 hang lô Brazier
Angpau 紅包 âng pau Little red envelopes, usually filled with money
Bakiak 木屐 bák kiáh Wooden clogs, sandals
Bakpia 肉餅 bah pián Specialty snack from Yogyakarta, made of wheat flour and filled with mung beans.
Bakso 肉酥 bah so Meatballs
Calo 查佬 ch’ā ló Panders
Ceban 萬 chít bān Literally means ‘ten thousand’, but usually refers to Rp10,000 banknote
Cekak 角 chít kak Insufficient (usually related to money, clothing size)
Cepek 百 chít peh Literally means ‘a hundred’, but usually refers to Rp100 banknote
Comblang 作媒人 tsoh h Matchmakers
Cukong 主公 tsú kong Well-to-do financier, business owner (slang), capitalist
Engkoh 阿哥 án ko Calling name for older brother
Gincu 銀朱 gîn tsu Lipstick
Gocap 五十 gō· tsáp Literally means ‘fifty’, but usually refers to Rp50,000 banknote
Gue/gua 我 góa I, me, my, mine
Imlek 陰曆 im lék Chinese New Year
Kecap 鮭汁 kê chiap Soy sauce
Kongko 講古 kóng kó Hanging out, chatting
Kongkalikong 公共你講 kong kā lí kóng Collusion, conspiracy
Tangsi 虫絲 thâng si Police/soldier barracks
Kongsi 公司 gongsi Partnership, joint venture
Lonceng 亂鐘 lōan cheng Bell
Mihun/bihun 麵粉 mīn hún Vermicelli, rice noodles
Nyonya niong ná Madam, lady, ma’am, wife
Pengki 畚箕 pùn ki Dust pan
Teko 茶鈷 tê kó Teapot
Tongkang 艟舡 tông kang Big ship

Turns out there are so many Indonesian phrases that are originated from Chinese dialects. These words are not only slang languages, but are also used in formal documents and speech.