Malay language

Spoken in

  • Austronesian Malayo -Polynesian Western Malayo -Polynesian Sunda Malay languages Malay language local Malay malay



Spoken in

162 million (total)

  • Austronesian Malayo -Polynesian Western Malayo -Polynesian Sunda Malay languages Malay language Local Malay Indonesian




The Malay language or Bahasa Melayu is the linguistic foundation for several regionally spoken languages ​​, one of which, referred to as Bahasa Malaysia in Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia in Indonesia variants are the most important. The language belongs with about 200 million speakers of the most spoken languages ​​in the world. The two languages ​​differ linguistically only slightly, so that they are scientifically treated as a single language.

Malay is the linguistic basis of the traffic and the official language, which is used mainly in the geographical area of Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as the official languages ​​of the Sultanate of Brunei, Singapore and the Republic of Indonesia. Larger groups of speakers can be found also in Myanmar, Hong Kong and the USA. Malay is the language code ms or june or msa ( ISO 639 ), while for the Indonesian Language code id and ind ( ISO 639) is used.

  • Within Malaysia, the correct language name Bahasa Malaysia ( Malay ). From about 12 million speakers of the Malay Peninsula it talk about 7.2 million as initial and 4.8 million as a second language.
  • Indonesian ( Bahasa Indonesia ) is the official language of Indonesia. It is spoken by about 162 million people. For 21 million, most of whom live on Java, it is their first language. 141 million use it as second or lingua franca. Outside of Indonesia, it is spoken, among other things in Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the Netherlands and the USA. In East Timor from 1975 to 1999, a province of Indonesia, Indonesian has under the Constitution the status of a " working language ". Many of the study courses at the Universities of East Timor are held in this language. 36 % of the population can speak Indonesian, read and write, another 1% speak and read, read only 11% and 7 % only speak.

Unless hereafter otherwise indicated, the statements for both language versions are valid.

  • 2.1 vowels
  • 2.2 diphthongs
  • 2.3 consonants
  • 3.1 plural
  • 3.2 tense
  • 3.3 Word formation 3.3.1 Assimilation rules
  • 3.3.2 Application of the root word and the assimilated form


Malay belongs to the Western group of the Malayo- Polynesian language branch within the Austronesian language family.

The first written evidence of the Altmalaiischen date from the 7th century.

Malay learned many influences from India, where Hinduism and Buddhism came. In later times came with Islam added Arabic and Persian influences. From the 14th century it was mainly written in Arabic script. The different colonial influences have led to many different loan words. See the following differences Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia.

Development in Malaysia

During the colonial period, Richard Olaf Winstedt and Richard James Wilkinson had laid the foundations of today's education system in Malaysia and not only the classification of Malay language explored through their work, but also created to valid today Malay- English dictionaries. At discharge, the Federation of Malaya to independence, the term Bahasa Melayu was of the fathers of the independence of Malaysia, led by Abdul Rahman, as Article 152 inserted into the Constitution to give the multi-ethnic state by a common language an identity.

After the bloody ethnic riots in 1969, Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussain the concept Bahasa Malaysia to demonstrate in this way the unity of ethnic groups of Malaysia and to take the dispute to the supremacy of the indigenous Malays sharpness. Under the Minister of Education Anwar Ibrahim, the term Bahasa Melayu was reintroduced in 1986. In April 2007, the Malaysian Cabinet Bahasa Malaysia spoke in favor of again as the official term for the national language of all ethnic groups in Malaysia to use.

" The Malay language belongs to Malaysians of all races and not just the Malays. The term Bahasa Malaysia would instil a sense of belonging. "

" The Malay language belongs to Malaysians of all races and not just the Malays. The term Bahasa Malaysia would develop a sense of belonging. "

The use of the term Bahasa Malaysia is appearing for all Malaysian newspapers, radio and television broadcasts mandatory.

Development in Indonesia

In Indonesia, was introduced by the Dutch colonization in the 19th century the Latin alphabet. The declaration of independence of the country in 1945 Bahasa Indonesia was declared the official state language; originally it was distributed only in eastern Sumatra and around the capital, Jakarta.

1972, a unified Latin writing system and a largely uniform orthography in Malaysia and Indonesia was created. Malaysia had used until then Arabic characters. Old people write in Malaysia today in Arabic script, and you can still find signs in Arabic script, but in the Malay language.

Development in East Timor

At the beginning of the 19th century, Malay was spoken as a trade language in Portuguese Timor, and even used by the Portuguese and Topasse. Then the language in the Portuguese colony disappeared. Apparently the Portuguese administration had made after 1870 for it. Tetum Prasa and Portuguese took over the function of the Malay as a trade language in Timor and to the outside. Only when the Arab minority in East Timor survived Malay as an everyday language and even 1975 in Oecusse as a second language. Here the influence of the surrounding Indonesian West Timor played a role.

1975 Indonesia occupied the first nine days earlier proclaimed State of East Timor. The annexation took place in 1976. Since Bahasa Indonesia symbolized as a fundamental criterion of unity in the state of Indonesia, the use of Portuguese was banned. 1991 could speak 60 % of the population of East Timor Bahasa Indonesia.

1999 Indonesia East Timor handed to a management by the UN. 2002 East Timor's independence was restored. Bahasa Indonesia lost its status as an official language in favor of the domestic Tetums and Portuguese but according to the constitution is still a working language. Many courses in the universities of the country are held in Bahasa Indonesia. 107 inhabitants named 2010 Malay as their mother tongue.

Differences between Indonesian and Malaysian

The differences between the two languages ​​developed only in the colonial period and mainly comprise the vocabulary. They are initially was only slightly larger than between West German and East German - German, for instance, use plastic / plastic and team / collective as different words for the same concept. Equally, it may be between the two Malay languages ​​, such specific words - often due to the fact that some words in Malaysia by the British colonialists in Indonesia have been introduced by the Dutch colonialists. In technical terms the differences are most frequently; almost famous is the always quoted translation of Exhaust: In Indonesian it is called knalpot and Malaysian ekzos ( exhaust from the English ). All words that describe things that did not exist before the colonial period, are almost always borrowed from the Malay from English and Indonesian mostly from the Netherlands. A classic example, easily comprehensible for German in the spelling, the word for " taxi " on Malaysian " teksi ", which corresponds to the English pronunciation in Indonesian " taksi ", which is the Dutch pronunciation.

Meanwhile, it can be seen a trend over the last decades that increasingly words from other native to Indonesia languages ​​, such as Javanese, entrance into the Indonesian language have been found and thus the independent development of the two languages ​​has made in the last 100 years a huge leap. While Indonesians and Malaysians in colonial times still could almost fluently communicate with each other, this is now possible only to a degree among young Indonesians and Malaysians, as is the case among speakers of different Scandinavian languages.

On the other hand report many foreigners who have each learned a variant of the language that they could communicate well in the other country after a short, especially if they were dealing with educated people. Therefore, it seems that the differences mainly due to the lower levels of language ( slang, slang ) have trained ( comparable to the ratio of international and Quebec French ).

For errors relating to the equality of the two languages ​​but also leads the incorrect assumption that many connoisseurs only superficial, the word Bahasa call this common language. This " Bahasa " but only " language " means, and not just Malay, Malaysian or Indonesian. The correct names are: Malay: Bahasa Melayu, Malay: Bahasa Malaysia and Indonesian: Bahasa Indonesia. When using " Bahasa " as a generic term is slang. That one had initially only small differences of different languages ​​are spoken, has to do with the fact that an anti- colonial movement in Indonesia " A nation - a country - one language" was and you did not have " Bahasa Melayu " so after independence. Due to the independent continuous development of both languages ​​, both have now removed to a degree of each other that they are now independent languages.

Singapore had with the introduction of Bahasa Melayu not a problem as she plays there an English minor role. Also in Brunei Malay is mainly language of administration and lingua franca, while the resident population speaks other languages ​​. Generally one comes specifically in Singapore but also in Brunei with English much further. In Singapore, more people speak English than Malay, because there are more Chinese than Malays. Indeed speak in Malaysia around 26 % Chinese and 9% Indians prefer English, but only here is actually the majority Malay vernacular. In Indonesia, however, English is limited ( except tourist areas ) and Bahasa Indonesia for many is a second language that is not understood by the elders with no education and people in remote areas.


Indonesian ( Bahasa Indonesia) is very easy to learn for German speaking. The debate is not a problem as they are very similar to the German one.


  • A, i, o, u have 2 forms as in German long in open syllables and open as in " but ", " victory ", " upper ", " tail "
  • In closed syllables short and dark as in "hand", "will", "still", "mouth".

Indonesian words should serve as examples in which there are both vocal forms simultaneously:

Datang ( come ), Barang (Case ): (a open and a closed)

Piring (plates ), mirip (similar to ): (i open and i closed)

Bodoh ( stupid), potong ( cut ): (o o open and closed)

Kurus ( lean), Tulum (mouth) (u u open and closed).

  • E - In Indonesia there are 3 e - lute:

1 e as in " reading ", in open syllables, for example, Meja ( table ), Zoom ( surprised ), Sehat ( healthy), often in loanwords from Portuguese or Arabic.

2 e as in " man," for example, Leher (neck), Beres (done); often in words from regional languages ​​like Javanese.

3 e as in "say" " come " ( in closed syllables ) or as marble vowel ( unstressed e ) in open or closed syllables as the two e in, eg keras (loud), berat (difficult), laser- ( drinking glass).

Again, as in most dictionaries (also official Indonesian, such as the " Kamus Besar Bahasa Indonesia" ), is the open or stressed "e" to distinguish with an accent ( é ) provided.


  • Ai as the final sound: , sometimes colloquially shortened as "may," for example Pandai ( wise ), damai (peace) to - é.
  • Ai as medial position: both vowels are pronounced separately, as in " Zaire ", for example, air (water), Iain ( otherwise), baik (good).
  • Au as a final sound: as in " blue " for example Kalau (if ), Hijau (green ), sometimes colloquially shortened to -o ( kalo, ijo ).
  • Au as medial position: both vowels are pronounced separately, eg house ( thirsty ), according to (sea ), daun (leaf)


  • C - tj as in " young herring " or " tja " or in English " tune", eg cari ( search ), kecil (small). ( c was written before the spelling reform of 1972 tj and will continue to read aloud )
  • F - as in " barrel "; occurs only in loanwords (often Arabic ), eg fajar ( Dawn ), Feri ( ferry), movie (film ), photo (photo), fungsi ( function). Is often replaced by p.
  • H - the initial sound barely audible aspirate, eg Hijau (green), habis ( to end ).
  • H - medially between vowels same clearly audible, for example, mahal (expensive), Leher (neck) Bohong, ( lie ).
  • H - medially between different vowels barely audible, eg Lihat ( see), tahu ( know) pahit ( bitter).
  • H - clearly audible in final aspirate, eg rumah ( house ), teh (tea ) bersih ( clean), bodoh ( stupid), Sepuluh (ten). The h in final position is not a strain h as in English " close " or "saw", but includes the syllable and causes the preceding vowel is spoken Hurz and dark.
  • J - dj as in "Nadja" or in English " due", eg saja (only) jalan (street ), belanja (shopping). ( j was written before the spelling reform of 1972 dj and will continue as spoken )
  • K - in initial and medial position as in English, but without aspiration, such as kaki (foot), Bukan (not ).
  • K - audible in final position only as a glottal stop, eg anak ( child), Bapak ( Father ).
  • Kh - (before the spelling reform ch) as in " trade " or " throat ", eg akhir ( end ), khusus ( special).
  • Ng - as in " quantity " or " sing ", without audible g, eg jangan ( do not do ), angin (wind), Bangun ( get up ).
  • Ngg - as in " Tango", with audible g, such as Mangga (Mango ).
  • Ny - like " gn " in " champagne ", eg nyanyi ( sing ), hanya (only) nyata (clear).
  • R - r rolled tongue, eg rokok ( cigarette), barat ( west), also in final audibly: sabar ( patience), Sisir (comb ).
  • S - always voiceless and sharp, even in initial position, eg sarung ( sarong ), usus ( intestine), jaundice ( more )
  • Sy - weak s- ch as in beer -chen, eg syarat (condition), Masyarakat (society), Syah ( legally ), occurs only in borrowings from Arabic ago.
  • V - always as f in "father" or " Karl Valentin", such as vitamin (vitamin ), vonis (judgment ); occurs only in European loanwords.
  • W - like the English "w" in water, for example, waktu ( time), wujud ( shape) Bawang ( onion).
  • Y - as "j " in " yes ", eg yakin ( convinced ), saya ( I ), ya (yes ).
  • Z - voiced s as in say, for example zaman ( time), izin ( permission ), occurs only in borrowings from Arabic.

The sounds in parentheses occur only in loanwords.


The Indonesian and Malay language is a predominantly isolating language, that is, there is no declension, conjugation and no very little inflection and derivation. Also, there are no article. A grammatical gender, there are only a few, borrowed from Sanskrit words ( eg putra = " son ", putri = " daughter " or putera = " son ", puteri = " daughter " in Indonesian ).


A single noun can have both singular and plural meaning, but the plural is also optional by doubling or by numbers or other words from their context already seen the plural, are highlighted as follows:

  • Orang ( " person / people " ), orang -orang ( "People"), dua orang ( " two people " ), guru ( " the teacher / the teacher"), para guru ( " the teachers - the teachers "). In some duplications, however, the word takes on a new meaning, for example, mata = "eye", mata mata - = " secret ", but there are in Indonesian, the word " spy ", which has the same meaning.

The use of number words classifiers are often used in addition, but in informal discussions usually not. How to use:

  • For between cherry and melon large items buah ( Meaning: "fruit" ), eg dua buah kelapa ( two coconuts )
  • For animals Ekor ( Bed: tail) eg Ekor empat ayam ( four chickens )
  • For people orang ( Bed: man ) eg sembilan orang Jerman ( nine German )
  • For paper Lembar or Helai (both Bed: Journal), for example, satu Lembar Kertas ( a sheet of paper ), shortened to selembar Kertas.
  • Eg Sepuluh biji batu ( ten ( small, round ) stones ): small, round objects biji ( core B )
  • For long, rod-like objects batang ( Bed: bar ) eg Tujuh batang rokok ( seven cigarettes)


All tenses are expressed not by changes of the verb, but by additional adverbs or auxiliary verbs.

  • I 'm writing a letter: Saya Sedangs Menulis surat (literally: I just write letter )
  • Yesterday I wrote a letter: Kemarin saya Menulis surat (literally: Yesterday I write letter )
  • Tomorrow I will write a letter: saya akan besøk Menulis surat (literally: Tomorrow I will write letter )
  • I will be writing a letter: saya akan Menulis surat (literally: I write to letter )
  • I have already written the letter: Saya Sudah Menulis surat (literally: I already write letter )

It can be seen that the verb " Menulis " (write ) changes in any way. The temporal context is determined exclusively by the adverbs or auxiliary verbs ( here: akan = be ) expressed.


Prefixes and suffixes can also change the meaning of the words - like in German - change. In some forms of doing certain initial sounds are assimilated.

Example: Base: tulis (write)

  • Menulis: Write ( active verb ) - here the t falls away.
  • Ditulis: written (passive verb )
  • Penulis: writer / writer ( someone who writes )
  • Menulisi: describe, label (in the sense of " to write something " )
  • Ditulisi: describe ( " be provided with the phrase ' within the meaning of )
  • Menuliskan: ( something) write it down.
  • Dituliskan: be written
  • Tertulis: written; writing ( passive state )

Assimilation rules

The assimilation is based on clear rules depending on the first sound of the root word and the prefix. The Vorsiben me- and pe - follow the same rules of assimilation, while di -, ke-, Memper and se- no assimilation takes place on the syllables. Here, the rules illustrated by the prefix ME examples, the assimilation of the prefix - group is carried out accordingly.

Application of the root word and the assimilated form

Since Indonesian dictionaries are often sorted according to the word stems, it is helpful to be able to connect from a word to its stem against these rules. In addition to sentences in which a verb in the passive manner similar is used to use in the Indonesian strain of the word. Example: surat yang saya tulis ... = The letter that I wrote ... (Note: Since there are no declensions in Indonesian, the relative pronoun is, yang ' only by his position almost to the subject of the subordinate clause and accordingly then the use of the verb liabilities - the letter was written -. although it is expressed differently in English grammatical This peculiarity is accustomed to declensions speakers often difficult to understand, because the lack of declination is automatically used when compiling ).


Most common font for the Malay language is a Latin font. A variant called Rumi has official in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore state, Indonesia has a deviating Latin orthography. In Brunei, is a variation of the Arabic script called Jawi, languages ​​in question.


  • Selamat pagi: " Good morning " ( Selamat is a common greeting word pagi: "Tomorrow " )
  • Selamat siang! / Selamat tengah hari! (only Malay ): " Good day " ( siang: " day ", tengah hari: " lunch " )
  • Selamat petang! / Selamat Sore! ( Indonesian only ), "Good ( afternoon ) Day " ( 15-18 clock ) - ( petang / Sore: " Afternoon " )
  • Selamat malam: " Good evening " / " Good night " ( malam " night " / "Night " )
  • Selamat makan! ! " Guten Appetit " ( makan: "eat" )
  • ! Selamat tidur: " Good Night" ( before bed ) - ( tidur, " sleep " )
  • Selamat datang: "Welcome " ( datang: "come" )
  • Selamat jalan! ! " Bon Voyage " ( jalan " run / drive / travel" )
  • Sampai jumpa ( lagi ): "! Goodbye " (literally "to meet / see again " )
  • Apa khabar? (ms ) / Apa kabar? ( id): "How 's it going? " (literally " what ( your / your) piece of news ?")
  • Khabar baik (ms ) / Kabar baik ( id): " I'm fine " (literally, " (my ) message good")
  • Terima kasih: " Thank you! "
  • Awas: " Look out! "
  • Hati - hati: " Be careful!"
  • Nama: "Name" Nama saya Luke: "My name is Lukas / My name is Lukas "
  • Saya Anna: " I am / name is Anna "
  • Siapa nama Anda / kamu: "How 's your name / your name " ( "What is your / your name?" )
  • Saya ( berasal ) dari Jerman / Austria / Switzerland ( ms) / Swiss ( id): "I come from Germany / Austria / Switzerland,"
  • Saya orang Jerman / Austria / Switzerland ( ms) / Swiss ( id): "I am German (r ) / Austria ( in ) / Swiss (in) '
  • Boleh cakap bahasa Jerman / Inggeris? (ms ) / Bisa ( bicara ) bahasa Jerman / Inggris? ( id): "Do you speak / do you speak German / English? "
  • Saya cakap (ms ) / bicara (id) bahasa Jerman: " I speak German "
  • Saya tak boleh cakap bahasa Melayu (ms ) / Saya tidak bisa ( bicara ) Bahasa Indonesia ( id): " I do not speak Malay / Indonesian "
  • Orangutan: " Orangutans " (literally " forest man " - " forest man " )
  • Orang Jerman: " German (r )" ( " German man " )
  • Orang asli " ​​native " (literally " man genuine / original " )
  • Orang Asing: " Aliens " / " stranger " (literally " man alien " )
  • Tak ( Malay ) / Ngga (k ), ga ( k) ( Indonesian only ): slang forms of " no" ( such as " nö " or " nee" )
  • Saya tidak mau: " I do not want " (literally " I do not want " )
  • Bukan Saya orang Inggeris (ms ) / Inggris (id), saya orang Jerman: "I'm not English, I'm German "
  • Saya Belum menikah: "I'm not married yet " (literally " I do not - yet married " )
  • Saya Sudah menikah: "I'm already married " (literally " I get married " )
  • Jangan datang: "Do not! "
  • Jangan ( pergi ) ke sana: "Go not there" (literally " not (to go) there! " )
  • Jangan Dibawa: " Do not make this with! " ( " Not brought be -! " Literally)
  • Saya mau ini: " I want this"
  • Saya mau makan: " I want to eat "
  • Sudah makan ( kah ): "It's eaten? "
  • Sarapan / makan pagi: "Breakfast"
  • Makan tengah hari ( Malay only ) / makan siang: " Lunch "
  • Makan malam: " Dinner"
  • Mengerti? / Paham: " Got it? "
  • Berapa harganya: " How much is this? " (Literally: "How much price of this ?")
  • 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10: " SIFAR (ms ) / nol ( id) / kosong, satu, dua, tiga empat, lima enam, Tujuh, lapan (ms ) / Delapan (id), sembilan, Sepuluh "
  • 11, 12, 13, 14, ... " Sebelas, burdened dua, tiga burdened, burdened empat, ..."
  • 20, 21, 22, 23, ... " puluh dua, dua puluh satu, dua dua puluh, dua tiga puluh, ..."
  • 100, 1000, 10,000, 100,000, 1,000,000: " seratus, Seribu, Sepuluh ribu, seratus ribu, satu juta "

Language example

Sukarno's Indonesian declaration of independence in Jakarta on August 17, 1945 ( Indonesian):

Speech regulation

Bahasa Malaysia is regulated by:

  • Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (Institute of Language and Literature )

Bahasa Indonesia is regulated by:

  • Badan Pengembangan Pembinaan dan Bahasa (Agency for language development and language education); formerly named as Pusat Bahasa (Center for Language ).