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Learn Malay Easily - Conversational Singapore Malay Language

Updated on July 7, 2012

Malay Language - Introduction

With about 250 million speakers worldwide, the Malay language is most commonly used in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia (Bahasa Indonesia is used where there are slight differences) and Southern Thailand. Malay is also used sporadically in Philippines, southern Myanmar, Christmas Island and Sri Lanka. While there are variants in accents and language, Malay language is generally consistent throughout the Southeast Asian region, with Bahasa Indonesian having the most drastic difference in vocabulary, where some words are unfamiliar to the other Malay language speakers in the region.

History of the Malay language

History of the Malay language dates back to late 6th Century AD, where documents written in the Old Malay Language was found off the coast of Sumatra. While there have been theories and hypotheses surrounding the actual origin of the Malay language, it is known that the language derived and was influenced heavily from the Sanskrit language. Since then, it has evolved and came into massive widespread during the early 1400’s where a form of Malay language was used as the official pidgin language for trade along the Straits of Malacca. The Malay language also has close ties with the spread of Islam in the region as through use of it for trade, Islamic literature was also spread throughout the region which gave rise to Muslim kingdoms, particularly in present day Malaysia.

Malay Language

Learn Malay
Learn Malay

Since then, Malay language has had Arabic, Hindi, Sanskrit and Persian influences infused into the language. Malay language is commonly written in Rumi or Roman alphabets but Jawi; a form of modified Arabic is also used traditionally, though less common in present day. The use of Malay language would definitely benefit foreign traders or those looking to set up businesses in the South-East Asian region of the world, specifically Malaysia or Indonesia, where Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia are national languages and most commonly used languages in their respective countries. While Singapore also recognizes the Malay language as the national language of the nation for historical reasons, English language is mostly used in daily conversations.

In Malaysia and Indonesia, it would definitely benefit a potential business venture if the foreign investor is familiar of the Malay language as Malays are known to be warm and friendly throughout the region, having the advantage of knowing the language would most likely form closer ties and build a stronger business bond between the two associates. While most Malays in the region have a strong grasp of the English language, traditional business companies still trade in the Malay language and usage throughout the region is stronger than ever.

Learn Malay Language

Malay Language is generally considered a relatively easy language to pick up; with many words having easy pronunciation and written words can be easily read and understood without much practice. Having a basic foundation in Malay language would take no longer than a few months and most language schools offer conversational Malay language as a course anyone with an interest can pick up on easily. Below are some conversational words and numbers that will provide you survival from one place to another; in case you get lost in the South-east Asian region:

Learn Basic Malay Easily

How are you? – Apa khabar?
Good – Baik
No good – Tidak baik
Thank you – Terima kasih
You’re welcome – Sama-sama
No (or I don’t want) – Tidak mahu
Goodbye – Selamat jalan
I’m sorry (or Excuse me) – Minta maaf
Eat – Makan
Drink – Minum
Can you help me? – Boleh awak tolong saya?
What is your name? – Nama awak apa? Or Siapakah nama awak?
My name is… - Nama saya…
Good morning – Selamat pagi
Good afternoon – Selamat tengahari
Good evening – Selamat petang
See you again – Jumpa lagi
Help – Tolong
One – Satu
Two – Dua
Three – Tiga
Four – Empat
Five – Lima
Six – Enam
Seven – Tujuh
Eight – Lapan
Nine – Sembilan
Ten – Sepuluh

These are just some of the basic terms that will help you in your dealings in South-east Asia. Do not fret though, if you need help, Malays are mostly proficient in varying levels of English so mixing both English and Malay in one sentence (colloquially known as rojak in Malaysia and Singapore) is completely understandable by the locals and will often be rewarded with a smile for the attempt. Have fun learning Malay, selamat maju jaya!


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    • profile image

      farhan khan 3 years ago


    • greatstuff profile image

      Mazlan 5 years ago from Malaysia

      Hi I linked this hub to my article Stories for Kids - Story of Mouse Deer and Crocodile at

    • profile image

      Md.Mahmuduzzaman 6 years ago

      Many Thanks..Terioma Kasih

    • profile image

      lala land 6 years ago

      its easy 2 learn...kAMU bodoh...dats mean u fool hahahha

    • stayingalivemoma profile image

      Valerie Washington 6 years ago from Tempe, Arizona

      I have a lot of Filipino friends that spoke Malay. Great hub!

    • profile image

      nasser 6 years ago

      i try learn malay

    • profile image

      sanjana 7 years ago

      am so much intrested in learning bahasa

      terima kasih

      this hub is a terrific help

    • profile image

      sord87 8 years ago

      A good Bahasa Malaysia elaboration and history!

    • H P Roychoudhury profile image

      H P Roychoudhury 8 years ago from Guwahati, India

      Great to know the history of Malay Language. Thanks.

    • xunlei profile image

      xunlei 8 years ago

      it is great ,

      I like,

      I will keep your post!

    • BkCreative profile image

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I had such a lovely time in Malaysia - met so many wonderful people too. I'd like to return so I will save your hub.

      Thanks a lot!

    • irwanfazri profile image

      irwanfazri 8 years ago from Malaysia

      Hey, very good hub. I'm malay from malaysia. Thank you for writing on my language. Good job!

    • Vizey profile image

      Vizey 8 years ago

      Nice guidance to learn Malaysian language. Hope i will able to learn it quickly as i have to go tour to Malaysia several tips for business project.

    • Misha profile image

      Misha 8 years ago from DC Area

      Baik SunSeven, jampa lagi :)

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 8 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Great Malay language hub, thanks for sharing it. creativeone59

    • awsydney profile image

      awsydney 8 years ago from Sydney, Australia

      I studied this language for many years in school when I lived in Malaysia. Thanks for sharing!

    • Hmrjmr1 profile image

      Hmrjmr1 8 years ago from Georgia, USA

      Terima kasih great hub!