Language facts: Malay

Feb 28, 2017

Malaysian (sometimes called also Malacca) is the official language of Malaysia and Singapore. The language is also known as Standard Malay and is closely related to Indonesian. It is the native language of some 10 million people but is spoken by many ethnic minorities and the overall number of speakers is now estimated to about 290 million, making it a major world language.

Language with mixed heritage

Malaysian was declared the official language of Malaysia in 1957 and is today officially known as Bahasa Melayu. While Malaysian is the sole official language of Malaysia, English is still widely used throughout the country, especially in professional and commercial fields, and also in superior courts. In fact, the language can be said to be a mixture of many languages as it has borrowed many words from Arabic, Indian dialects, Persian, Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese dialects, and lately English in the colonial era. In the field of science and technology, many English terms have been adopted. It is then heavily influenced by the Indonesian language. Around the 15the century, Malay was even a lingua franca of the Malacca Sultanate during which time the language evolved fast, mainly thanks to the big influence of Islamic texts. Malaysia being bordered by seas on the east and west coasts as well as in the south, Malay has also been widely used also as a language of trade.

Alphabet

Malaysian uses the standard 26 letters in the Latin alphabet without any diacritics.

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