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Malay Language Pronunciation: The simple guide for beginners

Updated on June 9, 2013

Ancient Malay script

Arabic Alphabet for Malay
Arabic Alphabet for Malay | Source

Introduction to pronunciation

The following instructions for pronunciation are considerably simplified. They should however be sufficient to guide the reader to read simple Malay words and construct simple sentences.

There are vowels, diphthongs and consonants in Malay.


Remember: to achieve a good accent in Malay, you must listen to a Malay speaking and imitate him

Vowels and how they should be pronounced

Vowel
English comparison
Malay words
a
a in "ask"
atas
e
a in "sofa"
kera
e
e in "bed"
meja
i
i in "fit"
kita
o
o in "go"
kota
u
u in "put"
buku
vowels in Malay. Each vowel, "e", represents one sound

Diphthongs: How combined vowels should be pronounced

Diphthongs
English comparison
Malay words
ai
i in "I"
pandai
au
o in "now"
pulau
oi
oi in "boy"
sepoi

Consonants: Some variations from English

Consonants
English comparison
Malay words
g
g as in "go"
gula
gg
g as in ng of "singer"
minggu
k
at end of words will not be pronounced
rokok
ny
nasal sound as in "new"
nyamuk
r
always sounded, whatever its position in the word
besar
s
s as in "silly", not in "his"
silakan
Malay consonants can be pronounced just like English consonants except that initiated consonants are not aspirated and p, t, k are not explosive

A note on the Malay alphabets verus Indonesia alphabets

Alphabet
How they are pronounced in Indonesia
A
al
B
be
C
ce
D
de
E
e
F
ef
G
ge
I
i
J
je
K
ka
L
el
M
em
N
en
O
o
P
pe
Q
ki
R
er
S
es
T
te
U
u
V
fe
W
we
X
eks
Y
ye
Z
zet
Note that although vowels in Indonesian language are pronounced almost like Malay, its alphabets are pronounced differently

Vocabulary to construct simple statement

Vocabulary:

ini this, these

itu that, those

saya I,my, me

meja table

kerusi chair

pinggan plate

biru blue

cawan cup

sekolah school

rumah house

kecil small

besar big

putih white

Examples of simple statements using "ini" and "itu"

Malay sentence
English translation
Ini meja
This is a table
Ini pinggan
This is a plate
Ini sekolah
This is a school
Ini sekolah kecil
This is a small school
Itu pinggan putih
That is a white plate
Ini rumah kecil
This is a small house
Ini meja besar
This is a big table
Meja itu besar
That table is big
Ini cawan biru
That is a blue cup
Cawan saya biru
My cup is blue
Itu kerusi
That is a chair
Itu cawan
That is a cup
Itu rumah
That is a house
Itu rumah besar
That is a big house
1. In Malay, one can skip " to be" 2. The articles "a" and "the" are not used 3. In Malay, the adjective follows the noun: the white plate = pinggan putih

Summary

Most of the pronunciations of Malay language are similar to English.

Following the sentences above and comparing your "word-for-word" version with the English given, and you will see how each sentence is constructed.

Try translating these sentences


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    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 3 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      alvintay,

      This is a very interesting and useful hub about Malay pronunciation. Could you please attach a video showing how to pronounce these words and sentences? Voted up and sharing.

    • Jared Miles profile image

      Jared Miles 3 years ago from Australia

      Thank you for an interesting Hub AlvinTay, you've clearly worked hard. I even managed to learn a little about Malay today!

    • AlvinTay profile image
      Author

      Alvin Tay Kong Wei 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks Paul , will try to get some video out :) and thanks Jared for your encouragement. Will work even harder ..

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