Malay alphabet )
Arabic script (
Jawi alphabet )
Thai alphabet (in Thailand)
Malay Braille Historically
Pallava alphabet ,
Kawi alphabet ,
Manually Coded Malay
Sistem Isyarat Bahasa
OFFICIAL LANGUAGE IN
Indonesia (as Indonesian )
Malaysia (as Malaysian )
(Local Malay enjoys the status of a regional language in
Kalimantan (Borneo) apart from the national standard of Indonesian )
Badan Pengembangan dan Pembinaan Bahasa ;
Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (Institute of Language and Literature);
Majlis Bahasa Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia
Malaysia Language Council – MABBIM) (a
msa – inclusive code
ind – Indonesian
zsm – Standard Malay
meo – Kedah Malay
kvr – Kerinci
min – Minangkabau
mui – Musi
zmi – Negeri Sembilan
max – North Moluccan
indo1326 partial match
Singapore and Brunei, where Standard
Malay is an official language East Timor, where Indonesian is a
working language Southern
Thailand and the Cocos Isl., where other
varieties of Malay are spoken
THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS
IPA PHONETIC SYMBOLS. Without proper
rendering support , you may see question marks, boxes, or other
symbols instead of
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MALAY (/məˈleɪ/ ; Malay: Bahasa Melayu بهاس ملايو) is
a major language of the Austronesian family spoken in
Singapore . It is spoken by 290 million
people across the
Strait of Malacca
Strait of Malacca , including the coasts of the
Malay Peninsula of
Malaysia and the eastern coast of
Indonesia, and has been established as a native language of part of
West Kalimantan in
Borneo . It is also
used as a trading language in the southern Philippines, including the
southern parts of the Zamboanga Peninsula, the
Sulu Archipelago and
the southern predominantly Muslim-inhabited municipalities of Bataraza
and Balabac in Palawan.
As the Bahasa Kebangsaan or Bahasa Nasional (National Language) of
several states, Standard Malay has various official names. In
Brunei it is called Bahasa Melayu (Malay language); in
Malaysian language ); and in Indonesia,
Indonesian language ) and is designated the Bahasa
Persatuan/ Pemersatu ("unifying language/ lingua franca "). However,
in areas of central to southern
Sumatra where the language is
indigenous, Indonesians refer to it as Bahasa Melayu and consider it
one of their regional languages.
Standard Malay, also called Court Malay, was the literary standard of
the pre-colonial Malacca and Johor Sultanates, and so the language is
sometimes called Malacca, Johor, or Riau Malay (or various
combinations of those names) to distinguish it from the various other
Malayan languages . According to
Ethnologue 16, several of the Malayan
varieties they currently list as separate languages, including the
Orang Asli varieties of Peninsular Malay, are so closely related to
standard Malay that they may prove to be dialects—these are listed
with question marks in the infobox at right or on top (depending on
device). There are also several
Malay trade and creole languages which
are based on a lingua franca derived from Classical Malay, as well as
Macassar Malay , which appears to be a mixed language .
* 1 Origin
* 2 History
* 3 Classification and related languages
* 5 Extent of use
* 6 Phonology
* 6.1 Consonants
* 6.2 Vowels
* 7 Grammar
* 8 Borrowed words
* 9 Examples
* 9.1 Article 1 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
* 9.2 Basic phrases in Malay
* 10 See also
* 11 References
* 12 Further reading
* 13 External links
Malay historical linguists agree on the likelihood of the Malay
homeland being in western
Borneo stretching to the Bruneian coast. A
form known as Proto-
Malay language was spoken in
Borneo at least by
1000 BCE and was, it has been argued, the ancestral language of all
Malayan languages . Its ancestor,
a descendant of the
Proto-Austronesian language , began to break up by
at least 2000 BCE, possibly as a result of the southward expansion of
Austronesian peoples into
Maritime Southeast Asia
Maritime Southeast Asia from the island of
History of the Malay language
The history of the
Malay language can be divided into five periods:
Old Malay, the Transitional Period, the Malacca Period (Classical
Malay), Late Modern Malay, and modern Malay. It is not clear that Old
Malay was actually the ancestor of Classical Malay, but this is
thought to be quite possible.
Old Malay was influenced by
Sanskrit literary language of Classical
India and a scriptural language of
Buddhism . Sanskrit
loanwords can be found in
Old Malay vocabulary. The earliest known
stone inscription in the
Old Malay language was found in Sumatra,
written in the
Pallava variety of the
Grantha alphabet and dates
back to 7th century – known as the
Kedukan Bukit inscription , it
was discovered by the Dutchman M. Batenburg on November 29, 1920 at
Kedukan Bukit, South Sumatra, on the banks of the Tatang, a tributary
of the Musi River . It is a small stone of 45 by 80 centimetres (18 by
The earliest surviving manuscript in Malay is the Tanjong Tanah Law
Pallava letters. This 14th-century pre-Islamic legal text
produced in the
Adityawarman era (1345–1377) of
Dharmasraya , a
Buddhist kingdom that arose after the end of Srivijayan rule in
Sumatra. The laws were for the
Minangkabau people , who today still
live in the highlands of
Malay language came into widespread use as the lingua franca of
Malacca Sultanate (1402–1511). During this period, the Malay
language developed rapidly under the influence of Islamic literature.
The development changed the nature of the language with massive
Arabic , Tamil and
Sanskrit vocabularies, called Classical
Malay. Under the Sultanate of Malacca the language evolved into a form
recognisable to speakers of modern Malay. When the court moved to
establish the Johor Sultanate, it continued using the classical
language; it has become so associated with Dutch Riau and British
Johor that it is often assumed that the Malay of Riau is close to the
classical language. However, there is no connection between Malaccan
Malay as used on Riau and the Riau vernacular.
One of the oldest surviving letters written in Malay is a letter from
Sultan Abu Hayat of
Maluku Islands in present-day Indonesia,
dated around 1521–1522. The letter is addressed to the king of
Portugal , following contact with Portuguese explorer Francisco
Serrão . The letters show sign of non-native usage; the Ternateans
used (and still use) the unrelated
Ternate language , a West Papuan
language , as their first language . Malay was used solely as a lingua
franca for inter-ethnic communications.
CLASSIFICATION AND RELATED LANGUAGES
Austronesian languages § Cross-linguistic Comparison Chart
Malay is a member of the Austronesian family of languages, which
includes languages from
Southeast Asia and the
Pacific Ocean , with a
smaller number in continental
Asia . Malagasy , a geographic outlier
Madagascar in the
Indian Ocean , is also a member of this
language family. Although each language of the family is mutually
unintelligible, their similarities are rather striking. Many roots
have come virtually unchanged from their common ancestor,
Proto-Austronesian language . There are many cognates found in the
languages' words for kinship, health, body parts and common animals.
Numbers, especially, show remarkable similarities.
Within Austronesian, Malay is part of a cluster of numerous closely
related forms of speech known as the
Malayan languages , which were
spread across Malaya and the Indonesian archipelago by Malay traders
from Sumatra. There is disagreement as to which varieties of speech
popularly called "Malay" should be considered dialects of this
language, and which should be classified as distinct Malay languages.
The vernacular of Brunei—
Brunei Malay —for example, is not readily
intelligible with the standard language, and the same is true with
some varieties on the
Malay Peninsula such as
Kedah Malay . However,
Brunei and Kedah are quite close.
The closest relatives of the Malay languages are those left behind on
Sumatra, such as the
Minangkabau language , with 5.5 million speakers
on the west coast.
Rencong alphabet , native writing
systems found in Malay Peninsula, central and South
Sumatra . The text
reads (Voorhoeve's spelling): "haku manangis ma / njaru ka'u ka'u di /
saru tijada da / tang ", which is translated by Voorhoeve as: "I am
weeping, calling you; though called, you do not come" (hitu adik sa-
is the rest of 4th line.
Kedukan Bukit Inscription , using
Pallava alphabet , is the oldest surviving specimen of the Old Malay
language in South
Sumatra , Indonesia.
Malay is now written using the
Latin script (Rumi), although an
Arabic script called Arab Melayu or Jawi also exists. Rumi is official
in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Malay uses Hindu-Arabic
Rumi and Jawi are co-official in
Brunei only. Names of institutions
and organisations have to use Jawi and Rumi (Latin) scripts. Jawi is
used fully in schools, especially the Religious School, Sekolah Agama,
which is compulsory during the afternoon for Muslim students aged from
around 6–7 up to 12–14.
Efforts are currently being undertaken to preserve Jawi in rural
areas of Malaysia, and students taking
Malay language examinations in
Malaysia have the option of answering questions using Jawi.
The Latin script, however, is the most commonly used in
Malaysia, both for official and informal purposes.
Historically, Malay has been written using various scripts. Before
the introduction of
Arabic script in the Malay region, Malay was
written using the
Buddhist era), Kawi and
Rencong alphabets ; these are still in use today, such as the Cham
alphabet used by the
Old Malay was
Pallava and Kawi script, as evident from several
inscription stones in the Malay region. Starting from the era of
kingdom of Pasai and throughout the golden age of the Malacca
Sultanate, Jawi gradually replaced these scripts as the most commonly
used script in the Malay region. Starting from the 17th century, under
Dutch and British influence, Jawi was gradually replaced by the Rumi
EXTENT OF USE
Malayan languages See also: Malay trade and creole
languages A Malay traffic sign in Malaysia. Malay road
Jakarta , Indonesia.
Malay is spoken in
Singapore , parts
Thailand and southern
their own standards,
Singapore use the same standard.
The extent to which Malay is used in these countries varies depending
on historical and cultural circumstances. Malay is the national
Malaysia by Article 152 of the Constitution of
and became the sole official language in Peninsular
Malaysia in 1968
and in East
Malaysia gradually from 1974. English continues, however,
to be widely used in professional and commercial fields and in the
superior courts. Other minority languages are also commonly used by
the country's large ethnic minorities. The situation in
similar to that of Malaysia. In the
Philippines , Malay is spoken by a
minority of the Muslim population residing in
Zamboanga Peninsula ) and the
Sulu Archipelago . However, they
mostly speak it in a form of creole resembling
Sabah Malay .
Historically, it was the language of the archipelago prior to Spanish
occupation . Indonesian is spoken by the overseas Indonesian community
Davao City , and functional phrases are taught to members of the
Philippine Armed Forces and to students.
Malay, like most Austronesian languages, is not a tonal language .
The consonants of Malaysian and also Indonesian are shown below.
Non-native consonants that only occur in borrowed words, principally
Arabic and English, are shown in brackets.
Malay consonant phonemes
ORTHOGRAPHIC NOTE: The sounds are represented orthographically by
their symbols as above, except:
* /ð / is 'z', the same as the /z / sound (only occurs in Arabic
loanwords originally containing the /ð / sound, but the writing is
not distinguished from
Arabic loanwords with /z / sound, and this
sound must be learned separately by the speakers).
* /ɲ / is 'ny'
* /ŋ / is 'ng'
* /θ / is represented as 's', the same as the /s / sound (only
Arabic loanwords originally containing the /θ / sound, but
the writing is not distinguished from
Arabic loanwords with /s /
sound, and this sound must be learned separately by the speakers).
Previously (before 1972), this sound was written 'th' in Standard
Malay (not Indonesian)
* the glottal stop /ʔ / is final 'k' or an apostrophe ' (although
some words have this glottal stop in the middle, such as rakyat)
* /tʃ / is 'c'
* /dʒ / is 'j'
* /ʃ / is 'sy'
* /x / is 'kh'
* /j / is 'y'
LOANS FROM ARABIC:
* Phonemes which occur only in
Arabic loans may be pronounced
distinctly by speakers who know Arabic. Otherwise they tend to be
replaced with native sounds.
Table of borrowed
/k /, /h /
khabar, kabar "news"
/d /, /l /
redha, rela "good will"
/l /, /z /
lohor, zuhur "noon (prayer)"
/ɡ /, /r /
ghaib, raib "hidden"
saat, sa'at "second (time)"
Malay originally had four vowels, but in many dialects today,
including Standard Malay, it has six. The vowels /e, o/ are much less
common than the other four.
TABLE OF VOWEL PHONEMES OF STANDARD MALAY
ORTHOGRAPHIC NOTE: both /e/ and /ə/ are written as 'e'. This means
that there are some homographs, so perang can be either /pəraŋ/
("war") or /peraŋ/ ("blond") (but in
Indonesia perang with /e/ sound
is also written as pirang).
Some analyses regard /ai, au, oi/ as diphthongs. However, and can
only occur in open syllables, such as cukai ("tax") and pulau
("island"). Words with a phonetic diphthong in a closed syllable, such
as baik ("good") and laut ("sea"), are actually two syllables. An
alternative analysis therefore treats the phonetic diphthongs , and
as a sequence of a monophthong plus an approximant: /aj/, /aw/ and
There is a rule of vowel harmony : the non-open vowels /i, e, u, o/
in bisyllabic words must agree in height, so hidung ("nose") is
allowed but *hedung is not.
Malay is an agglutinative language , and new words are formed by
three methods: attaching affixes onto a root word (affixation ),
formation of a compound word (composition), or repetition of words or
portions of words (reduplication ). Nouns and verbs may be basic
roots, but frequently they are derived from other words by means of
prefixes , suffixes and circumfixes .
Malay does not make use of grammatical gender , and there are only a
few words that use natural gender; the same word is used for he and
she or for his and her. There is no grammatical plural in Malay
either; thus orang may mean either "person" or "people". Verbs are not
inflected for person or number, and they are not marked for tense;
tense is instead denoted by time adverbs (such as "yesterday") or by
other tense indicators, such as sudah "already" and belum "not yet".
On the other hand, there is a complex system of verb affixes to render
nuances of meaning and to denote voice or intentional and accidental
Malay does not have a grammatical subject in the sense that English
does. In intransitive clauses, the noun comes before the verb. When
there is both an agent and an object , these are separated by the verb
(OVA or AVO), with the difference encoded in the voice of the verb.
OVA, commonly but inaccurately called "passive", is the basic and most
common word order.
List of Malay loanwords
Malay language has many words borrowed from
Sanskrit , Tamil , Persian , Portuguese , Dutch ,
certain Chinese languages and more recently, English (in particular
many scientific and technological terms).
Despite the different vocabulary used by the two standard versions of
the language, Malay speakers should be able to understand the
translated passages below.
ARTICLE 1 OF THE UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS
PERNYATAAN UMUM TENTANG HAK ASASI MANUSIA
PERISYTIHARAN HAK ASASI MANUSIA SEJAGAT
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one
another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Semua orang dilahirkan merdeka dan mempunyai martabat dan hak-hak
yang sama. Mereka dikaruniai akal dan hati nurani dan hendaknya
bergaul satu sama lain dalam semangat persaudaraan.
Semua manusia dilahirkan bebas dan sama rata dari segi maruah dan
hak-hak. Mereka mempunyai pemikiran dan perasaan hati dan hendaklah
bergaul dengan semangat persaudaraan.
BASIC PHRASES IN MALAY
Malaysia and Indonesia, to greet somebody with "Selamat pagi" or
"Selamat sejahtera" would be considered very formal, and the borrowed
word "Hi" would be more usual among friends; similarly "Bye-bye" is
often used when taking one's leave. However, if you're a Muslim and
the Malay person you're talking to is also a Muslim, it would be more
appropriate to use the Islamic greeting of 'Assalamualaikum'. Muslim
Malays, especially in Malaysia,
Singapore and Brunei, rarely use
'Selamat pagi' (Good morning), 'Selamat tengah hari (Good "early"
afternoon), 'Selamat petang' (Good "late" afternoon/evening),
'Selamat malam' (Good night) or 'Selamat tinggal / Selamat jalan'
(Good bye) when talking to one another.
Welcome (used as a greeting)
Have a safe journey (equivalent to "goodbye", used by the party
Have a safe stay (equivalent to "goodbye", used by the party
You are welcome
Good afternoon/evening (note that 'Selamat petang' must not be used
at night as in English. For a general greeting, use 'Selamat
Greetings (formal). This greeting is rarely used however, and would
be unheard of, especially in Singapore. Its usage might be awkward for
the receiver. But it is still used in schools, as a greeting between
students and teachers.
See you again
Siapakah nama awak/kamu?/Nama kamu siapa?
What is your name?
Nama saya ...
My name is ... (Followed immediately by the name: for example, if
one's name was Munirah, then one would introduce oneself by saying
"Nama saya Munirah", which translates to "My name is Munirah".)
How are you? / What's up? (literally, "What news?")
Fine, (lit.good news)
Tidak ("tak" colloquially)
Aku (Saya) cinta pada mu (awak)
I love you (romantic love. In romantic situations, use informal
"Aku" instead of "Saya" for "I". And "Kamu" or just "Mu" for "You". In
romance, in immediate family communication and in songs, informal
pronouns are used). In Malay language, appropriate personal pronouns
must be used depending on (1) whether the situation is formal or
informal, (2) the social status of the people around the speaker and
(3) the relationship of the speaker with the person spoken to and/or
with people around the speaker. For learners of Malay language, it is
advised that they stick to formal personal pronouns when speaking
Malay to Malays and Indonesians. The speaker risks being considered as
rude if they use informal personal pronouns in inappropriate
Saya benci awak/kamu
I hate you
Saya tidak faham/paham (or simply "tak faham" colloquially)
I do not understand (or simply "don't understand" colloquially)
Saya tidak tahu (or "tak tau" colloquially)
I do not know (or "don't know" colloquially)
I apologise ('minta' is to request i.e. "do forgive")
"May I ask...?" (used when trying to ask something)
Nothing, none, don't have
Varieties of Malay
* Jawi , an
Arabic alphabet for Malay
* Differences between the Malaysian and Indonesian languages
* Languages of
List of English words of Malay origin
Malaysian English , the English used formally in Malaysia.
* ^ Mikael Parkvall, "Världens 100 största språk 2007" (The
World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007), in
* ^ Uli, Kozok (10 March 2012). "How many people speak Indonesian".
University of Hawaii at Manoa. Retrieved 20 October 2012. James T.
Collins (Bahasa Sanskerta dan Bahasa Melayu, Jakarta: KPG 2009) gives
a conservative estimate of approximately 200 million, and a maximum
estimate of 250 million speakers of Malay (Collins 2009, p. 17).
* ^ "Kedah MB defends use of Jawi on signboards". The Star . 26
August 2008. Archived from the original on 29 October 2012.
* ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds.
(2017). "Indonesian Archipelago Malay".
Glottolog 3.0 . Jena, Germany:
Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
* ^ Laurie Bauer, 2007, The Linguistics Student’s Handbook,
* ^ 10 million in Malaysia, 5 million in
Indonesia as "Malay" plus
250 million as "Indonesian", etc.
* ^ K. Alexander Adelaar, "Where does Malay come from? Twenty years
of discussions about homeland, migrations and classifications",
Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, 160 (2004), No. 1,
Leiden , pp. 1-30
* ^ Andaya, Leonard Y (2001), "The Search for the \'Origins\' of
Melayu" (PDF), Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, University of
Singapore, 32 (3), doi :10.1017/s0022463401000169
* ^ Wurm, Stephen ; Mühlhäusler, Peter ; Tryon, Darrell T.
(1996). Atlas of Languages of Intercultural Communication in the
Pacific, Asia, and the Americas: Vol I: Maps. Vol II: Texts. Walter de
Gruyter. p. 677. ISBN 978-3-11-081972-4 .
* ^ "Bahasa Melayu Kuno". Bahasa-malaysia-simple-fun.com. 15
September 2007. Archived from the original on 26 December 2010.
Retrieved 22 December 2010.
* ^ Sneddon, James N. (2003). The Indonesian Language: Its History
and Role in Modern Society. UNSW Press. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-86840-598-8
* ^ A B Sneddon, James N. (2003). The Indonesian Language: Its
History and Role in Modern Society. UNSW Press. p. 62. ISBN
Ethnologue 16 classifies them as distinct languages, ISO3 kxd
and meo, but states that they "are so closely related that they may
one day be included as dialects of Malay".
* ^ Malay (Bahasa Melayu). Retrieved 30 August 2008.
* ^ "Malay Can Be \'Language Of Asean\' Local News".
Brudirect.com. 24 October 2010. Retrieved 22 December 2010.
* ^ Salleh, Haji (2008). An introduction to modern Malaysian
literature. Kuala Lumpur: Institut Terjemahan Negara
pp. xvi. ISBN 978-983-068-307-2 .
* ^ A B Clynes, A., Olson, K. S. (2008). "Indonesian". Journal of
the International Phonetic Association. 38: 209–213. doi
* ^ Asmah Hj Omar (1985). Susur galur bahasa Melayu. Kuala Lumpur:
Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
* ^ Zaharani Ahmad (1993). Fonologi generatif: Teori dan penerapan.
Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
* ^ Clynes, A (1997). "On the Proto-Austronesian 'diphthongs'".
Oceanic Linguistics. 36: 347–362. doi :10.2307/3622989 .
* ^ Adelaar, K. A. (1992). Proto Malayic: The reconstruction of its
phonology and parts of its lexicon and morphology. Canberra: Pacific
* Adelaar, K., "Where does Malay come from? Twenty years of
discussions about homeland, migrations and classifications", Bijdragen
tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 160 (2004), no: 1, Leiden, 1-30
* Edwards, E. D., and C. O. Blagden. 1931. "A Chinese Vocabulary of
Malacca Malay Words and Phrases Collected Between A. D. 1403 and 1511
(?)". Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, University of London
6 (3). : 715–49. https://www.jstor.org/stable/607205.
* C. O. B.. 1939. "Corrigenda and Addenda: A Chinese Vocabulary of
Malacca Malay Words and Phrases Collected Between A. D. 1403 and 1511
(?)". Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies, University of London
10 (1). Cambridge University Press.
* Vladimir Braginsky (18 March 2014). Classical Civilizations of
South-East Asia. Routledge. pp. 366–. ISBN 978-1-136-84879-7 .
MALAY EDITION of , the free encyclopedia
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