- Betty Litamahuputty
Ternate Malay is the indigenous Malay dialect of the Island Ternate.
Ternate is a small island of about 105 km2 in the province of Maluku Utara in Eastern Indonesia. The only town on the island is also called Ternate. In former times Ternate Town was an important port in the clove trade. Arab, Chinese, Indian, Javanese, Portuguese, English, and Dutch traders as well as those from many other places came to Ternate to participate in this profitable trade. Malay served as the lingua franca along the trade route where in the various ports a local variety developed.
The Malay variety of Ternate is called Ternate Malay. Ternate Malay is now the first language for the majority of the residents of Ternate Town. In the rest of the island, which is mainly inhabited by ethnic Ternate people, Ternate Malay serves as a second language and it is mainly used for interethnic communication. For the majority of people here the first language is one that is called Ternate (as opposed to Ternate Malay). The Ternate language belongs to the a non-Austronesian language family and is closely related to languages in the Bird’s Head of Papua.