English  Your Native Language is set as English Select your native speaking language 

Malay Language Facts and Information

Information About Malay Language

Malay language topics and discussion
Malay speakers in the Phrasebase community
Extinct: no
Family: Malayo-Polynesian
Branch: Western
Continent: Asia
Country: Malaysia
Region: All districts of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, and Sarawak. Also spoken in Brunei, Indonesia (Sumatra), Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, UAE, USA. AMBONESE: Central Maluku, Ambon, Haruku, Nusa Laut, Saparua islands, along the coastal areas of Seram, and southern Maluku. Also spoken in Netherlands, USA. BABA: Mainly in the Katong District on the east coast and the surrounding districts of Geylang and Jao Chiat. Also spoken in Malaysia (Peninsular). BACANESE: North Maluku, Bacan Island west of southern Halmahera. Centered around the site of the former palace in Labuha, 1 village within about 5 km. walking distance from Labuha, another 1 hour by dugout (Indomut), and half the population of Waya and Lele villages on Mandioli Island. BERAU: East central coastal area, Tanjungreder and Muaramalinau in the north to Sepinang in the south. BUKIT: Southeastern, Sampanahan River, northwest of Limbungan. COCOS ISLANDS: Tawau and Lahad Datu. From the Cocos Islands (Keeling Islands), an Australian territory. Also spoken in Australia. JAMBI: Southern Sumatra. KEDAH: A few villages near Satun. Isolated. KOTA BANGUN KUTAI: Central Mahakam River basin. KUPANG: Kupang and surrounding towns, West Timor. MENADONESE: North Sulawesi, Minahasa District, west coast around the Port of Manado. Used as second language in many in North Sulawesi. NORTH MOLUCCAN: North Maluku, Halmahera, Sula, and Obi islands. Mother tongue speakers in one neighborhood of Labuha (Christian), and some other families with parents of different ethnic origins. PATTANI: Chana (Chenok) region of Songkhla (Singgora) Province in the north, traversing southward through Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala, Saiburi, Tak Bai. TENGGARONG KUTAI: Mahakam River basin, east central coastal area, from Sepinang and Tg. Mangkalihat in the north to Muarabadak and Samarinda in the south.
Countries Where Spoken: 7,181,000 or 47% of the population (1986), including 248,757 in Sarawak (1980 census), 2,000,000 in Kelantan and Trengganu, and 1,000,000 in other parts of Malaysia; 10,000,000 in Malaysia including second language speakers (1977 SIL). Population total all countries 18,000,000 or more. Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand. AMBONESE: 200,000 first language speakers, other second language speakers in Indonesia (1987 J. Collins). Population total all countries 245,000. BABA: 10,000 or more in Singapore (1986 A. Pakir). Estimates of ethnic Baba are from 250,000 to 400,000. Population total both countries 15,000. Malaysia. BACANESE: 2,500 mother tongue speakers (1991 H. Shelden SIL). Over 1,000 in Labuha (1987 J. Collins). BERAU: 20,000 (?) (1981 Wurm and Hattori). BUKIT: 50,000 (1981 Wurm and Hattori). COCOS ISLANDS: 3,000 in Sabah (1975 SIL). Population total both countries 4,000. Australia. JAMBI: 800,000 (1989). KEDAH: No estimate available. KOTA BANGUN KUTAI: 80,000 (1981 Wurm and Hattori). KUPANG: 200,000 mother tongue speakers (1997 Max Jacob). Others use it as a second language. MENADONESE: Many mother tongue speakers, and millions of second language speakers (1994:411 Prentice). NORTH MOLUCCAN: A few hundred mother tongue speakers (1987 J. Collins). PATTANI: 3,100,000 including 2,600,000 in southern Thailand, 500,000 in Bangkok and elsewhere (1998). SABAH: No estimate available. TENGGARONG KUTAI: 210,000 including 100,000 in Tenggarong, 60,000 in Ancalong, 50,000 in Northern Kutai (1981 Wurm and Hattori).
Countries Where Official: Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand
Native Speakers: 18,000,000
Speakers Total: 18,000,000
Phrasebase members who speak Malay at a native level: 1,060
Phrasebase members who speak Malay at a conversational level: 1,060
Phrasebase members primary language they are trying to learn is Malay: 2,000
Phrasebase members secondary language they are trying to learn is Malay: 1,750
Three Letter Code: MLI
Summary: "Bazaar Malay" is used to refer to many regional nonstandard dialects. Over 80% cognate with Indonesian. Bilingualism in English, Chinese, Tamil. National language. Grammar. SVO. Roman and Arabic (Jawi) scripts. Agriculturalists: wet and dry rice, rubber, fruits, vegetables; fishermen. Bible 1733-1993. AMBONESE: Marginal intelligibility with Indonesian. Difficult intelligibility with Ternate Malay; speakers switch to Indonesian. 81% lexical similarity with Standard Malay. Bilingualism in Indonesian is high around Ambon city, Some Dutch is known. Developed from Bazaar Malay and still reflects some archaic forms. Further diverged by adapting to the vernaculars of central Maluku. Considered to be a Malay-based creole by B.D. Grimes (1988, 1991) and J. Holm (1989:581-3). Trade language. Grammar. Literacy rate in first language: 1% to 5%. Literacy rate in second language: 50% to 75%. Christian (since early 16th century), Muslim. NT 1877-1883. BABA: It developed since the 15th century from Low Malay with many Hokkien Chinese borrowings. Regional variants between Malacca and Singapore. Partially intelligible with Standard Malay. It is generally believed that the Baba of Malaysia is more "refined", and that of Singapore more "rough". Most have learned Standard Malay and English in school. Lim (1981) and Holm (1989) treat it as a Malay-based creole. It is different from Peranakan Indonesian. Some who grew up with Chinese neighbors know Hokkien, Teochew, and Cantonese. Children now learn Mandarin in school rather than Standard Malay. Baba is mainly used in the home and with other Babas. The only monolinguals are over 70 years old. NT 1913, out of print. BACANESE: No second language speakers. No evidence of an earlier indigenous language (J. Collins). The Portuguese cut off Bacan from other Malay in 1515. No historic connection with Borneo since. Junior high school in Labuha. Literacy rate in first language: 1% to 5%. Literacy rate in second language: 50% to 75%. Agriculturalists (rural speakers). Muslim. BERAU: Shares phonological innovations with Kutai Malay, Banjar, and Brunei. BUKIT: Traditional religion. COCOS ISLANDS: Investigation needed: intelligibility with Standard Malay, Indonesian. JAMBI: Investigation needed: intelligibility with Malay varieties. Muslim. KEDAH: Apparently distinct from Pattani Malay or Standard Malay. Bilingualism in Central Thai. More people in the area speak Thai than Pattani. Most outside contacts are with centers of Thai population in Songkhla, Phattalung, and Haad Yai; with west coast Malay states of Perlis and Kedah. Culturally Malay. Tropical forest. Muslim. KOTA BANGUN KUTAI: Not intelligible with Tenggarong Kutai Malay. May be intelligible with Northern Kutai. Investigation needed: intelligibility with dialects. KUPANG: 2 dialects. Some preachers preach in it. Loan words from Rote, Portuguese, Chinese, Uab Meto (Atoni), Sabu, Spanish, Dutch, English. Newspapers, radio programs. Christian. Bible portions 1999. MENADONESE: Its closest relative is North Moluccan Malay. Also close to Sri Lankan Malay. Bilingualism in Indonesian. An important, growing lingua franca in many parts of Sulawesi. Influences from Portuguese and Ternate. Investigation needed: intelligibility with Indonesian, other Malay varieties. Trade language. Dictionary. Christian, some Muslim. NORTH MOLUCCAN: A few small communities speak it as mother tongue. Most speakers use it as a second language. Many bilinguals are competent in it at Foreign Service Institute levels 2 or 3. Used between speakers of different languages. Used orally, not written. Investigation needed: intelligibility with Indonesian, Menadonese Malay. Trade language. Literacy rate in first language: 1% to 5%. Literacy rate in second language: 50% to 75%. Muslim, Christian. PATTANI: Different from Kedah Malay and Standard Malay. Bilingualism in Central Thai. Investigation needed: intelligibility with Trengganu, Kelantan. Muslim, Christian. NT 1981. SABAH: A few mother tongue speakers in urban areas, especially children of parents who have different mother tongues. Used mainly as a contact language, so it is not yet fully developed. Speakers shift to various other languages they know to fill in expressions in domains where Sabah Malay is lacking. For at least this reason, if the only form of Malay a person knows is Sabah Malay, he will have difficulty understanding Standard Malay in other domains. "Bazaar Malay" is used to refer to many regional nonstandard varieties of Malay. Trade language. Dictionary. SVO. Agriculturalists: wet and dry rice, rubber, fruits, vegetables; fishermen; shopkeepers; small traders. TENGGARONG KUTAI: Many dialects. Tenggarong and Kota Bangun are not inherently intelligible. Shares phonological innovations with Berau Malay, Banjar, and Brunei. Investigation needed: intelligibility with dialects.

Malay Facts  
Malay Books
Malay Facts  
Malay Phrasebooks 
Malay Facts  
Malay DVD"s
Malay Facts  
Malay Videos

Malay Facts Malay FactsSearch Phrasebase