The Malay language, or Bahasa Melayu (பஹஸ மெளையு), is an Austronesian language spoken in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, as well as parts of Southern Thailand. A language of the Malays, it is spoken by 290 million people across the Strait of Malacca, including the coasts of the Malay Peninsula of Malaysia and the eastern coast of Sumatra in Indonesia and has been established as a native language of part of western coastal Sarawak and 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.
|Native to||Malaysia |
|77 million (2007)|
Total: more than 215 million
|Tamil (in Malaysia and Singapore)|
Arabic (Jawi) (in Brunei)
Thai (in Thailand)Historically Pallava, Kawi, Rencong
Official language in
|Regulated by||Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (Institute of Language and Literature); |
Majlis Bahasa Brunei–Indonesia–Malaysia (Brunei–Indonesia–Malaysia Language Council – MABBIM) (a trilateral joint-venture)
zsm – Malaysian
ind – Indonesian
lrt – Larantuka Malay ?
kxd – Brunei ?
meo – Kedah Malay ?
zmi – Negeri Sembilan Malay ?
dup – Duano ?
jak – Jakun ?
orn – Orang Kanaq ?
ors – Orang Seletar ?
tmw – Temuan ?
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
Malay is normally written with the Latin alphabet called Rumi. But there is also a modified Arabic alphabet that is called Jawi. Rumi is official in Malaysia and Singapore, and the Indonesian language has a different official orthography that uses also the Latin script. Rumi and Jawi are both official in Brunei. Efforts are currently being undertaken to preserve Jawi script and to revive its use amongst Malays in Malaysia, and students taking Malay language examination in Malaysia have the option of answering questions using Jawi script. But the Latin alphabet is still the most commonly used script in Malaysia, both for official and informal purposes.
Historically, Malay has been written in various types of script. Before the introduction of Arabic script in the Malay region, Malay was written using Pallava, Kawi and Rencong script and are still in use today by the Champa Malay in Vietnam and Cambodia.
- Nationalencyklopedin "Världens 100 största språk 2007" The World's 100 Largest Languages in 2007
- Uli, Kozok (2012-03-10). "How many people speak Indonesian". University of Hawaii at Manoa. Retrieved 20 October 2012.
Even if we are very conservative and consider only two third of Malaysians and 85% of Indonesians as fluent speakers (either native, or near-native), there are still more than 215 million speakers of Malay-Indonesian.
- "Kedah MB defends use of Jawi on signboards". The Star. 26 August 2008. Archived from the original on 4 September 2008. Retrieved 28 August 2021.