Malay language

Last updated

Bahasa Melayu
بهاس ملايو
ꤷꥁꤼ ꤸꥍꤾꤿꥈ
Pronunciation [ mə.la.ju]
Native to Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Thailand, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Ethnicity Malays
(see also Malayophones)
Speakers L1 – 77 million (2007) [1]
Total (L1 and L2): 200–290 million (2009) [2]
Early forms
Standard forms
Manually Coded Malay
Official status
Official language in
Recognised minority
language in
Flag of Thailand.svg  Thailand (as Pattani Malay)
Regulated by
Language codes
ISO 639-1 ms
ISO 639-2 may  (B)
msa  (T)
ISO 639-3 msa – inclusive code
Individual codes:
zlm   Malay (individual language)
kxd    Brunei Malay
ind    Indonesian
zsm    Standard Malay
jax    Jambi Malay
meo    Kedah Malay
kvr    Kerinci
xmm    Manado Malay
min    Minangkabau
mui    Musi
zmi    Negeri Sembilan
max    North Moluccan Malay
mfa    Kelantan-Pattani Malay
coa    Cocos Malay
bjn    Banjarese
bew    Betawi
msi    Sabah Malay
mqg   Kota Bangun Kutai Malay
Glottolog indo1326   partial match
Linguasphere 31-MFA-a
Malayophone world.svg
Countries where Malay is spoken
  Official language
  Recognized minority or trade language
A teenager speaks Kedah Malay
An Indonesian speaker
A Malay speaker

Malay ( /məˈl/ ; [5] Malay: Bahasa Melayu, Jawi: بهاس ملايو, Rencong: ꤷꥁꤼ ꤸꥍꤾꤿꥈ) is an Austronesian language that is an official language of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, and that is also spoken in East Timor and parts of the Philippines and Thailand. Altogether, it is spoken by 290 million people [6] (around 260 million in Indonesia alone in its own literary standard named "Indonesian") [7] across Maritime Southeast Asia.


As the bahasa kebangsaan or bahasa nasional ("national language") of several states, Standard Malay has various official names. In Malaysia, it is designated as either Bahasa Melayu Malaysia ("Malaysian Malay") or also Bahasa Melayu ("Malay language"). In Singapore and Brunei, it is called Bahasa Melayu ("Malay language"). In Indonesia, an autonomous normative variety called Bahasa Indonesia ("Indonesian language") is designated the bahasa persatuan/pemersatu ("unifying language" or lingua franca). However, in areas of Central to Southern Sumatra, where vernacular varieties of Malay are indigenous, Indonesians refer to the language as bahasa Melayu, and consider it to be one of their regional languages.

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 Malayic languages. According to Ethnologue 16, several of the Malayic 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. There are also several Malay trade and creole languages based on a lingua franca derived from Classical Malay as well as Macassar Malay, which appears to be a mixed language.


Malay historical linguists agree on the likelihood of the Malay homeland being in Northwestern Borneo. [8] A form known as Proto-Malay was spoken in Borneo at least by 1000 BCE and was, it has been argued, the ancestral language of all subsequent Malayic languages. Its ancestor, Proto-Malayo-Polynesian, 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 from the island of Taiwan. [9]


Lawah-Lawah Merah (1875), a Malay-language translation of L'araignee rouge by Rene de Pont-Jest [fr] has been identified as the first Malay-language novel. Prior to the era, the Malay literature & storytelling was predominantly written in the form of Hikayat. Lawah-Lawah Merah (1875).pdf
Lawah-Lawah Merah (1875), a Malay-language translation of L'araignée rouge by René de Pont-Jest  [ fr ] has been identified as the first Malay-language novel. Prior to the era, the Malay literature & storytelling was predominantly written in the form of Hikayat .

The history of the Malay language can be divided into five periods: Old Malay, the Transitional Period, the Classical Malay, Late Modern Malay and Modern Malay. Old Malay is believed to be the actual ancestor of Classical Malay. [10]

Old Malay was influenced by Sanskrit, the literary language of Classical India and a liturgical language of Hinduism and Buddhism. Sanskrit loanwords can be found in Old Malay vocabulary. The earliest known stone inscription in the Old Malay language was found in Sumatra, Indonesia, written in the Pallava variety of the Grantha alphabet [11] and is dated 1 May 683. Known as the Kedukan Bukit inscription, it was discovered by the Dutchman M. Batenburg on 29 November 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 31 in).

Other evidence is the Tanjung Tanah Law in post-Pallava letters. [12] This 14th-century pre-Islamic legal text was produced in the Adityawarman era (1345–1377) of Dharmasraya, a Hindu-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 Sumatra, Indonesia.

Terengganu Inscription Stone (Malay: Batu Bersurat Terengganu; Jawi: باتو برسورت ترڠݢانو) is a granite stele carrying inscription in Jawi script that was found in Terengganu, Malaysia is the earliest evidence of classical Malay inscription. The inscription, dated possibly to 702 AH (corresponds to 1303 CE), constituted the earliest evidence of Jawi writing in the Malay world of Southeast Asia, and was one of the oldest testimonies to the advent of Islam as a state religion in the region. It contains the proclamation issued by a ruler of Terengganu known as Seri Paduka Tuan, urging his subjects to extend and uphold Islam and providing 10 basic Sharia laws for their guidance.

The Malay language came into widespread use as the lingua franca of the 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 infusion of 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 closer connection between Malaccan Malay as used on Riau and the Riau vernacular. [13]

Among the oldest surviving letters written in Malay are the letters from Sultan Abu Hayat of Ternate, Maluku Islands in present-day Indonesia, dated around 1521–1522. The text is addressed to the king of Portugal, following contact with Portuguese explorer Francisco Serrão. [14] 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. [14]


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 spoken in Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, is also a member of this language family. Although these languages are not necessarily mutually intelligible to any extent, their similarities are often quite apparent. In more conservative languages like Malay, many roots have come with relatively little change 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 Malayic 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 lects on the Malay Peninsula such as Kedah Malay. However, both Brunei and Kedah are quite close. [15]

Writing system

The Rencong alphabet, a native writing system found in central and South Sumatra. The text reads (Voorhoeve's spelling): "haku manangis ma / njaru ka'u ka'u di / saru tijada da / tang [hitu hadik sa]", 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. Kerinci MSS detail.jpg
The Rencong alphabet, a native writing system found in central and South Sumatra. The text reads (Voorhoeve's spelling): "haku manangis ma / njaru ka'u ka'u di / saru tijada da / tang [hitu hadik sa]", 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. KedukanBukit001.jpg
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, known as Rumi in Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore or Latin in Indonesia, although an Arabic script called Arab Melayu or Jawi also exists. Latin script is official in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Malay uses Hindu-Arabic numerals.

Rumi (Latin) 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 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 Brunei and 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 Pallava, Kawi and Rencong scripts; these scripts are no longer frequently used, but similar scripts such as the Cham alphabet are used by the Chams of Vietnam and Cambodia. Old Malay was written using 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 script. [16]

Extent of use

A Malay traffic sign in Malaysia. Malaysia Traffic-signs Warning-and-regulatory-signs-02.jpg
A Malay traffic sign in Malaysia.
Malay road signs in Jakarta, Indonesia. The blue sign reads "Lajur Khusus Menurunkan Penumpang" which means "Lane for dropping passengers only" and the small no-parking sign on the left reads "Sampai Rambu Berikutnya" which means "until next sign" in Indonesian Sukarno hatta airport - Terminal - Jakarta - Indonesia.jpg
Malay road signs in Jakarta, Indonesia. The blue sign reads "Lajur Khusus Menurunkan Penumpang" which means "Lane for dropping passengers only" and the small no-parking sign on the left reads "Sampai Rambu Berikutnya" which means "until next sign" in Indonesian

Malay is spoken in Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, East Timor, Singapore and southern Thailand. [17] Indonesia regulates its own normative variety of Malay, while Malaysia and Singapore use a common standard. [18] Brunei, in addition to Standard Malay, uses a distinct vernacular dialect called Brunei Malay. In East Timor, Indonesian is recognised by the constitution as one of two working languages (the other being English), alongside the official languages of Tetum and Portuguese. [4] The extent to which Malay is used in these countries varies depending on historical and cultural circumstances. Malay is the national language in Malaysia by Article 152 of the Constitution of Malaysia, 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 Brunei is similar to that of Malaysia. In the Philippines, Indonesian is spoken by the overseas Indonesian community in 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 [19] [20] and also Indonesian [21] are shown below. Non-native consonants that only occur in borrowed words, principally from Arabic and English, are shown in brackets.

Malay consonant phonemes
Labial Dental Denti-alveolar/


Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
voiceless p t t͡ʃ k ( q )( ʔ )
voiced b d d͡ʒ ɡ
Fricative voiceless ( f )( θ ) s ( ʃ )( x ) h
voiced ( v )( ð )( z )( ɣ )
Approximant central j w
lateral l
Trill r

Orthographic note: The sounds are represented orthographically by their symbols as above, except:

Loans from Arabic:

Table of borrowed Arabic consonants
/x//k/, /h/khabar, kabar "news"
/ð//d/, /l/redha, rela "good will"
/zˤ//l/, /z/lohor, zuhur "noon (prayer)"
/ɣ//ɡ/, /r/ghaib, raib "hidden"
/ʕ//ʔ/saat, sa'at "second (time)"
/θ//s/Selasa "Tuesday"
/q//k/makam "grave"


Malay originally had four vowels, but in many dialects today, including Standard Malay, it has six. [19] The vowels /e, o/ are much less common than the other four.

Table of vowel phonemes of Standard Malay
Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e ə o
Open a

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. [22] [23] However, [ai] and [au] 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 [ai], [au] and [oi] as a sequence of a monophthong plus an approximant: /aj/, /aw/ and /oj/ respectively. [24]

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. [25]

Comparison of several standard pronunciations of Malay [26]




Baku & Indonesian


⟨a⟩ in final open syllable/ə//a//a/
⟨i⟩ in final closed syllable with final ⟨n⟩ and ⟨ng⟩/e//i//i/
⟨i⟩ in final closed syllable with other final consonants/e//e//i/
⟨u⟩ in final closed syllable with final ⟨n⟩ and ⟨ng⟩/o//u//u/
⟨u⟩ in final closed syllable with other final consonants/o//o//u/
final ⟨r⟩silent/r//r/

Study by Uri Tadmor which was published in 2003 shows that mutation of ⟨a⟩ in final open syllable is an areal feature. Specifically, it is an areal feature of Western Austronesia. Uri Tadmor classify those types into four groups as below. [27]

Final /a/ mutation in Malay-Indonesian dialects and nearby Austronesian languages
TypesPhonemes"Malay" provenanceNative languages area
[a] (origin)[a] Kedah, Brunei Arekan (eg. Tengger), Sarawak, Sabah, Kalimantan (except Pontianak), East Indonesia
Raised[ə], [ɨ] Johor, Pontianak, Tanah Abang (Jakarta) Bali
Rounded[o], [ɔ] Patani, Palembang Minangkabau, Mataraman (eg. Yogyakarta)
Fronted[ɛ], [e] Perak, Jakarta, Sambas


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' which is dia or for 'his' and 'her' which is dia punya. 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 moods.

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.[ citation needed ]

Borrowed words

The Malay language has many words borrowed from Arabic (in particular religious terms), Sanskrit, Tamil, certain Sinitic languages, Persian (due to historical status of Malay Archipelago as a trading hub), and more recently, Portuguese, Dutch and English (in particular many scientific and technological terms).

Jakartan Creole Malay (Betawi language) Betawi.jpg
Jakartan Creole Malay (Betawi language)

There is a group of closely related languages spoken by Malays and related peoples across Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Southern Thailand, Kampung Alor in East Timor, and the far southern parts of the Philippines. They have traditionally been classified as Malay, Para-Malay, and Aboriginal Malay, but this reflects geography and ethnicity rather than a proper linguistic classification. The Malayan languages are mutually intelligible to varying extents, though the distinction between language and dialect is unclear in many cases.

Para-Malay includes the Malayan languages of Sumatra. They are: Minangkabau, Central Malay (Bengkulu), Pekal, Talang Mamak, Musi (Palembang), Negeri Sembilan (Malaysia), and Duano’. [28]

Aboriginal Malay are the Malayan languages spoken by the Orang Asli (Proto-Malay) in Malaya. They are Jakun, Orang Kanaq, Orang Seletar, and Temuan.

The other Malayan languages, included in neither of these groups, are associated with the expansion of the Malays across the archipelago. They include Malaccan Malay (Malaysian and Indonesian), Kedah Malay, Kedayan/Brunei Malay, Berau Malay, Bangka Malay, Jambi Malay, Kutai Malay, Natuna Malay, Riau Malay, Loncong, Pattani Malay, and Banjarese. Menterap may belong here.

There are also several Malay-based creole languages, such as Betawi, Cocos Malay, Dili Malay, Kupang Malay, Manado Malay and Sabah Malay, which may be more or less distinct from standard (Malaccan) Malay.

Due to the early settlement of a Cape Malay community in Cape Town, who are now known as Coloureds, numerous Classical Malay words were brought into Afrikaans.


The extent to which Malay and related Malayan languages are used in the countries where it is spoken varies depending on historical and cultural circumstances. Malay is the national language in Malaysia by Article 152 of the Constitution of Malaysia, and became the sole official language in West 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 Brunei is similar to that of Malaysia.

In Singapore, Malay was historically the lingua franca among people of different nationalities. Although this has largely given way to English, Malay still retains the status of national language and the national anthem, Majulah Singapura, is entirely in Malay. In addition, parade commands in the military, police and civil defence are given only in Malay.

Most residents of the five southernmost provinces of Thailand—a region that, for the most part, used to be part of an ancient Malay kingdom called Pattani—speak a dialect of Malay called Yawi (not to be confused with Jawi), which is similar to Kelantanese Malay, but the language has no official status or recognition.

Owing to earlier contact with the Philippines, Malay words—such as dalam hati (sympathy), luwalhati (glory), tengah hari (midday), sedap (delicious)—have evolved and been integrated into Tagalog and other Philippine languages.

By contrast, Indonesian has successfully become the lingua franca for its disparate islands and ethnic groups, in part because the colonial language, Dutch, is no longer commonly spoken. (In East Timor, which was governed as a province of Indonesia from 1976 to 1999, Indonesian is widely spoken and recognized under its Constitution as a 'working language'.)

Besides Indonesian, which developed from the Malaccan dialect, there are many Malay varieties spoken in Indonesia; they are divided into western and eastern groups. Western Malay dialects are predominantly spoken in Sumatra and Borneo, which itself is divided into Bornean and Sumatran Malay; some of the most widely spoken Sumatran Malay dialects are Riau Malay, Langkat, Palembang Malay and Jambi Malay. Minangkabau, Kerinci and Bengkulu are believed to be Sumatran Malay descendants. Meanwhile, the Jakarta dialect (known as Betawi) also belongs to the western Malay group.

The eastern varieties, classified either as dialects or creoles, are spoken in the easternmost part of the Indonesian archipelago and include Manado Malay, Ambonese Malay, North Moluccan Malay, and Papuan Malay.

The differences among both groups are quite observable. For example, the word kita means 'we, us' in western, but means 'I, me' in Manado, whereas 'we, us" in Manado is torang and Ambon katong (originally abbreviated from Malay kita orang 'we people'). Another difference is the lack of possessive pronouns (and suffixes) in eastern dialects. Manado uses the verb pe and Ambon pu (from Malay punya 'to have') to mark possession. So 'my name' and 'our house" are translated in western Malay as namaku and rumah kita but kita pe nama and torang pe rumah in Manado and beta pu nama, katong pu rumah in Ambon dialect.

The pronunciation may vary in western dialects, especially the pronunciation of words ending in the vowel 'a'. For example, in some parts of Malaysia and in Singapore, kita (inclusive 'we, us, our') is pronounced as /kitə/, in Kelantan and Southern Thailand as /kitɔ/, in Riau as /kita/, in Palembang as /kito/, in Betawi and Perak as /kitɛ/ and in Kedah and Perlis as /kitɑ/.

Batavian and eastern dialects are sometimes regarded as Malay creole, because the speakers are not ethnically Malay.


All Malay speakers should be able to understand either of the translations below, which differ mostly in their choice of wording. The words for 'article', pasal and perkara, and for 'declaration', pernyataan and perisytiharan, are specific to the Indonesian and Malaysian standards, respectively, but otherwise all the words are found in both (and even those words may be found with slightly different meanings).

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Indonesian [29] Standard "Malay" [30]
Universal Declaration of Human RightsPernyataan Umum tentang Hak Asasi Manusia
(General Declaration about Human Rights)
Perisytiharan Hak Asasi Manusia Sejagat
(Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Article 1Pasal 1Perkara 1
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.

(All human beings are born free and have the same dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should get along with each other in a spirit of brotherhood.)

Semua manusia dilahirkan bebas dan sama rata dari segi maruah dan hak-hak. Mereka mempunyai pemikiran dan perasaan hati dan hendaklah bertindak di antara satu sama lain dengan semangat persaudaraan.

(All human beings are born free and are equal in dignity and rights. They have thoughts and feelings and should get along with a spirit of brotherhood.)

See also

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Languages of Brunei</span>

There are a number of languages spoken in Brunei. The official language of the state of Brunei is Standard Malay, the same Malaccan dialect that is the basis for the standards in Malaysia and Indonesia. This came into force on 29 September 1959, with the signing of Brunei 1959 Constitution.

Sarawak Malay is a Malayic language native to the State of Sarawak. It is a common language used by natives of Sarawak. This variant is related to Bruneian Malay, spoken in the districts of Limbang and Lawas (Sarawak) and bears strong similarities with Sanggau, Sintang and Sekadau Malay spoken in the northern part of the West Kalimantan province in Indonesia. There is some debate on whether it is a vernacular variety of Malay or a separate language altogether. It is more similar to Ibanic languages compared to the Malay dialects of Sumatra and the Malayan Peninsula, and is different enough from standard Malay that speakers outside of Sarawak are often unable to understand it without prior study..

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Malay Indonesians</span> Ethnic group in Indonesia

Malay Indonesians ; Jawi: اورڠ ملايو ايندونيسيا) are ethnic Malays living throughout Indonesia. They are one of the indigenous peoples of the country. Indonesian, the national language of Indonesia, is a standardized form of Riau Malay. There were numerous Malay kingdoms in what is now Indonesia, mainly on the islands of Borneo and Sumatra. These included Srivijaya, the Melayu Kingdom, Dharmasraya, the Sultanate of Deli, the Sultanate of Siak Sri Indrapura, the Riau-Lingga Sultanate, the Sultanate of Bulungan, Pontianak Sultanate, and the Sultanate of Sambas. The 2010 census states that there are 8 million Malays in Indonesia, this number comes from the classification of Malays in East Sumatra and the coast of Kalimantan which is recognized by the Indonesian government. This classification is different from the Malaya and Singapore census which includes all ethnic Muslims from the Indonesian archipelago as Malays.

This article explains the phonology of Malay and Indonesian based on the pronunciation of Standard Malay, which is the official language of Brunei, Singapore and Malaysia and Indonesian which is the official language of Indonesia and a working language in Timor Leste. Bruneian Standard Malay and Malaysian Standard Malay follow the Johor-Riau Pronunciation, while Singaporean Standard Malay and Indonesian follow the Baku Pronunciation.

Negeri Sembilan Malay is an Austronesian language spoken mainly in the Malaysian state of Negeri Sembilan and in northern Malacca in Alor Gajah. The language is spoken by the descendants of Minangkabau settlers from Sumatra, who have migrated to Negeri Sembilan since as early as the 14th century. It is often considered a variant or dialect of the Minangkabau language; lexical and phonological studies, however, indicate that it is more closely related to Standard Malay than it is to Minangkabau.

Malay is spoken by a minority of Filipinos, particularly in the Palawan, Sulu Archipelago and parts of Mindanao, mostly in the form of trade and creole languages, such as Sabah Malay.

Perak Malay is one of the Malay dialects spoken within the state of Perak, Malaysia. Although it is neither the official language nor the standard dialect in the whole state of Perak, its existence which co-exists with other major dialects in the state of Perak still plays an important role in maintaining the identity of Perak. In spite of the fact that there are five main dialects traditionally spoken in Perak, only one of which is intended by the name "Perak Malay". There are subtle phonetic, syntactic and lexical distinctions from other major Malay dialects. Perak Malay can be divided into two sub-dialects, Kuala Kangsar and Perak Tengah, named after the daerah (districts) where they are predominantly spoken.

Riau Malays is a Malays sub-ethnic originating from the Riau and Riau Islands province. The main areas of the Riau Malays are on the east coast of Riau, mostly in Bengkalis, Indragiri Hulu, Kampar, and the Pekanbaru City area which was the base of the Malay Kingdom in the past. The Riau Malays are famous for Riau Malay Literature which is well applied in rhymes, syair, gurindam, hikayat, karmina, seloka, traditional poems, local proverbs, mantras, and romance stories, as well as other forms of expression which they use to express their feelings.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Beka Melayu</span>

Béka Melayu, Cakap Melayu, Lidah Melayu or Tuturan Melayu is a linguistic purism of Malay language based on the Austronesian language group, especially the Malayic branches. This project is newly created by native cyberspace users on the Internet. It is also less known as Melayu jati or Melayu tulen which means "pure Malay". Among the most significant foreign contributors to Malay vocabulary are Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, Hindi, Siamese, Tamil, English, Portuguese, Chinese and Japanese, while Dutch is most spotted in Indonesian.


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  28. Ethnologue 16 also lists Col, Haji, Kaur, Kerinci, Kubu, Lubu'.
  29. Standard named as stated in: "Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)". Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Retrieved 17 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  30. The other language standard aside from "Indonesian" is named simply as "Malay", as stated in: "Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Bahasa Melayu (Malay))". Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Further reading