Puneet Varma

Terengganu Malay

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Native to  Malaysia, Indonesia
Native speakers  1.1 million (2010)
Ethnicity  Terengganuan Malays
Region  Terengganu, Mersing (Johor), Kuantan (Pahang), Anambas (Riau Islands), Natuna (Riau Islands)
Language family  Austronesian Malayo-Polynesian (MP) Nuclear MP Malayo-Sumbawan Malayic Malayan Malay Terengganu Malay
Dialects  Coastal Terengganu Inland Terengganu

Terengganu Malay (Malay: Bahasa Melayu Terengganu, Terengganu Malay: Base Tranung/Ganu) is a Malayan language spoken in the state of Terengganu, Malaysia along the coastal areas of Terengganu all the way southward to coastal Pahang and Mersing, Johor and eastward towards Anambas Islands, Indonesia in the South China Sea. Highly localised Peranakan-like Chinese minority in Terengganu adopt Terengganuan as part of their mother tongues along with Hokkien. However, at the Terengganu–Kelantan border it is not the dominant language. For example, Kelantan Malay is more popular in the northern town of Besut, district of Terengganu. It is sometimes unintelligible to standard Malay speakers, although they share a lot of similarities. Terengganu Malay use the Latin alphabet and Jawi script - Arabic transliteration for its writing. Terengganu Malay is closely related to Kelantan-Pattani Malay and Pahang Malay due to its borders between these two states and more distantly related to Kedah Malay.


Terengganu Malay is used in many local television dramas and movies. Radio stations such as Terengganu FM and Hot FM Terengganu mainly used Terengganu Malay in its broadcast along with standard Malaysian.


The people of Terengganu usually referred to their language as Base/Bahse Tranung/Tghanung (/bahsɘ tɣanuŋ/) which means 'the language of Terengganu' or Cakak Tranung (/tʃakaʔ tɣanuŋ/) which means 'Speaking Terengganuan'. In Standard Malay it is known as Bahasa Terengganu or Bahasa Melayu Terengganu (Dialek/Loghat Terengganu which means 'Terengganu dialect' is also widely used). The people of outside Terengganu often misunderstood that Terengganuans usually called themselves and their language as Ganu, the word Ganu is actually how the Kelantanese and the people of Besut in northern Terengganu pronounce Terengganu and is rarely used by southern Terengganuans (Southern Setiu to Kemaman) themselves. Besides Tranung and Ganu, the people of Terengganu sometimes use Ganung, Teganu and Teganung as well.


There are several theories on the origin of the name 'Terengganu'. One theory attributes the name's origin to terang ganu, Malay for 'bright rainbow'. Another story, said to have been originally narrated by the ninth Sultan of Terengganu, Baginda Omar, tells of a party of hunters from Pahang roving and hunting in the area of what is now southern Terengganu. One of the hunters spotted a big animal fang lying on the ground. A fellow party member asked to which animal did the fang belong. The hunter, not knowing which animal, simply answered taring anu (Malay: 'fang of something'). The party later returned to Pahang with a rich hoard of game, fur and sandalwood, which impressed their neighbours. They asked the hunters where did they source their riches, to which they replied, from the land of taring anu, which later evolved into Terengganu. Terengganu was called Trangkanu (Thai: ตรังกานู) by the Siamese when it was under their influence.


Terengganu Malay is natively spoken in most parts of Terengganu (exclude Besut), all the way down to Kuantan and Cherating in Pahang and Mersing in Johor. Terengganuan Malay dialects are still spoken on the Indonesian islands of Anambas off the coast of Pahang and Sarawak. The Anambas people are culturally and linguistically closer to Terengganuan but with more influences from Sundanese, Javanese, Buginese and Johor-Riau Malays which came from various parts of Indonesia. Terengganuan Malay are also spoken in big cities like Kuala Lumpur where there is a large Terengganuan communities.


Terengganu Malay has two major dialects that is Coastal (zlm-coa) and Inland (zlm-inl) . A dialect spoken in Kuala Terengganu district are the de facto standard dialect of Terengganu Malay. However, the most distinct of all dialects is Inland Terengganu Malay, spoken in Hulu Terengganu district, the Inland dialect have a distinct phonology compared to Coastal dialect, the most prominent is the pronunciation of the end letter "e", Coastal Terengganu speakers tend to pronounce it as a schwa while Inland Terengganu speakers tend to pronounce it with strong "e" (as in red) similar to Perak Tengah dialect. People in Setiu mostly speak a mixed Kelantanese-Terengganuan Malay due to its border between Besut which predominantly use Kelantan-Pattani Malay and Kuala Terengganu which use the more prestige form of Terengganu Malay. People in Dungun, Marang and Kemaman usually speak similar to those in Kuala Terengganu but with influences from Standard Malay and Pahang Malay as well. The people of coastal Pahang and the district of Mersing in Johor also use a Coastal variety of Terengganu Malay.


Although essentially a spoken language with no standard orthography, Terengganu Malay is used in songs, poems, and also in media (such as local radio stations, dramas and movies). Ibrahim Taib, a famous Terengganu poet who was known for his usage of Inland Terengganu dialect in his poems such as "Mok, Aku Nok Tubaik" (Mom, I want to get out) and "Jadilah Awang" (enough Awang) can be considered a fine example of Terengganu Malay literature. The song Tranung/Ganu Kite by a famous Malaysian band Iklim was a major hit song at that time and is sung wholly in Terengganu Malay.


Terengganu Malay has a distinct pronunciation and grammar compared to Standard Malay. The Grammatical order and Pronunciation is similar but distinct to those of the neighbouring Pahang and Kelantanese Malay.

Pronunciation /a/ followed by a nasal consonant changes to /ŋ/ ayam ايم ('chicken') becomes ayang; makan ماكن (to eat) becomes makang

/a/ at the end of syllables changes to /ɔʔ/ minta مينتا ('to ask') becomes mitok

/ah/ changes /ɔh/ rumah رومه ('house') becomes rumoh

/a/ changes to /ə/ saya ساي ('I') becomes saye

/i/ changes to /iŋ/ sini سيني ('here') becomes sining

/ua/ changes to /ɔ/ buaya بوايا ('crocodile') becomes boye

/aj/ becomes /aː/ sungai سوڠاي ('river') becomes sunga

/aw/ becomes /a/ pisau ڤيساو ('knife') changes to pisa

/ia/ before a nasal vowel changes to = /ijaŋ/ siam سيام ('Siam') becomes siyang

/ia/ changes to /ɛ/ biasa بياسا ('once') becomes bese

/s/ and /f/ at the end of syllables changes to /h/ malas مالس ('lazy') changes to malah

/m/ and /n/ at the end of syllables changes to /ŋ/ hakim حاكيم (judge) changes to hakeng

/r/ changes to /ʀ/ orang اورڠ ('person') becomes oghang

final consonants are often only pronounced as a glottal stop. bukit بوكيت ('hill') becomes buke’ (bukiʔ) words are distinguished between lengthened initial consonant

final /l/ are silent. example: tinggal ('left') becomes tingga, tebal ('thick') becomes teba usually /l/ as in /lah/ are removed and became /ah/. example: Banyaklah ('so many') becomes banyok ah.

bulang ('moon') vs. bːulang ('many months'); katok ('to strike') vs. kːatok ('frog'); siku ('elbow') vs. sːiku ('hand tool')


Several comparisons between Standard Malay and Terengganu Malay with English translations:


Numerals in Terengganu Malay is closely related to those of neighbouring Kelantanese Malay, however it differs in terms of pronunciation especially the end letter.


Terengganu Malay also had distinct words for some animals, mostly in terms of pronunciation.

Some notable Terengganuan phrases

"starang baroh" means "really"... a popular phrase used when you want to show or express something that is really serious or true.

Ambe dok tau starang baroh

As opposed to Standard Malay or West coast Malay dialects:-

Saya memang tak tahu langsung

Another famous Terengganuan Malay phrases that have been used by Terengganu people is "Senyung sokmo" which mean "Senyum selalu" in standard Malay and "Smile always" in English. It is widely used by Terengganu people to wish other people well and to brighten their days.

Sample Text

In Terengganu Malay:

Budok-budok lening koho dok kena makanang tradisi, sohbeng kate kuey, nasik pong ttuko bimbo lagi, nok wak guane makanang lening modeng blake, oghang mude tak mboh belajo duk ngarak ke oghang tue sokmo.


Budak-budak sekarang semakin tak kenal makanan tradisi, jangan kata kuih, nasi pun masih tertukar lagi, nak buat macam mana makanan sekarang semua moden, orang muda tak nak belajar selalu mengharap ke orang-orang tua.


Terengganu Malay Wikipedia

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