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Languages of Malaysia

Languages of Malaysia
Distribution of Malaysia Families Languages.png
The distribution of language families of Malaysia shown by colours:
     Malayic
     North Bornean and Melanau-Kajang
     Aslian
     Land Dayak
     Sama–Bajaw
     Philippine
     Creole
     Areas with multiple languages
OfficialMalaysian, English (recognised, official in Sarawak)
NationalMalay
Indigenous(West Malaysia: Baba Malay, Batek, Chitty Malay, Cheq Wong, Duano’, Jah Hut, Jahai, Jakun, Kedah Malay, Kelantan-Pattani Malay, Kenaboi, Kensiu, Kintaq, Kristang, Lanoh, Mah Meri, Minriq, Mintil, Mos, Negeri Sembilan Malay, Orang Kanaq, Orang Seletar, Pahang Malay, Perak Malay, Ple-Temer, Rawa Malay, Sabüm, Semai, Semaq Beri, Semelai, Semnam, Southern Thai, Temiar, Temoq, Temuan, Terengganu Malay, Wila')
(East Malaysia: Abai, Bahau, Bajaw, Balau, Belait, Berawan, Biatah, Bintulu, Bonggi, Bookan, Bruneian/Kedayan Malay, Brunei Bisaya, Bukar Sadong, Bukitan, Coastal Kadazan, Cocos Malay, Daro-Matu, Dumpas, Dusun, Eastern Kadazan, Gana’, Iban, Ida'an, Iranun, Jagoi, Jangkang, Kajaman, Kalabakan, Kanowit, Kayan, Kelabit, Kendayan, Keningau Murut, Kinabatangan, Kiput, Klias River Kadazan, Kota Marudu Talantang, Kuijau, Lahanan, Lelak, Lengilu, Lotud, Lun Bawang (Lundayeh), Mainstream Kenyah, Maranao, Melanau, Molbog, Momogun, Murik Kayan, Narom, Nonukan Tidong, Okolod, Paluan, Papar, Punan Batu, Remun, Sa'ban, Sabah Bisaya, Sabah Malay, Sama, Sarawak Malay, Sebop, Sebuyau, Sekapan, Selungai Murut, Sembakung, Seru, Serudung, Sian, Suluk, Sungai, Tagol, Timugon, Tombonuwo, Tring, Tringgus, Tutoh, Ukit, Uma’ Lasan)
ForeignEnglish, Cantonese, Hainanese, Hakka, Hokchew, Hokkien, Indonesian, Malayalam, Mandarin Chinese, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu
SignedMalaysian Sign Language
Keyboard layout

The indigenous languages of Malaysia belong to the Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian families. The national, or official, language is Malay which is the mother tongue of the majority Malay ethnic group. The main ethnic groups within Malaysia comprise the Malays, Chinese and Indians, with many other ethnic groups represented in smaller numbers, each with its own languages. The largest native languages spoken in East Malaysia are the Iban, Dusunic, and the Kadazan languages. English is widely understood and spoken in service industries and is a compulsory subject in primary and secondary school. It is also the main language spoken in most private colleges and universities. English may take precedence over Malay in certain official contexts as provided for by the National Language Act, especially in the states of Sabah and Sarawak, where it may be the official working language.

Malaysia contains speakers of 137 living languages,[1] 41 of which are found in Peninsular Malaysia.[2] The government provides schooling at the primary level in each of the three major languages, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. Within Malay and Tamil there are a number of dialectal differences.[3] There are a number of Chinese languages native to the ethnic Chinese who originated from southern China, which include Yue, Min and Hakka Chinese.

Malay

The official language of Malaysia is known as Bahasa Malaysia. It is a standardised form of the Malay language.[4] There are 10 dialects of Malay used throughout Malaysia.[3] Malay became predominant after the 1969 race riots.[5] A variant of the Malay language that is spoken in Brunei is also commonly spoken in East Malaysia.

Other indigenous languages

Citizens of Minangkabau, Bugis or Javanese origins, who can be classified "Malay" under constitutional definitions may also speak their respective ancestral tongues. The native tribes of East Malaysia have their own languages which are related to, but easily distinguishable from, Malay. Iban is the main tribal language in Sarawak while Dusun and Kadazan languages are spoken by the natives in Sabah.[6] Some of these languages remain strong, being used in education and daily life.[3] Sabah has tenth sub-ethnic languages, Bajau, Bruneian, Murut, Lundayeh/Lun Bawang, Rungus, Bisaya, Iranun, Sama, Suluk and Sungai. There are over 30 native groupings, each of which has its own dialect. These languages are in danger of dying out, unlike the major ones such as Kadazandusuns which have developed educational syllabuses. Iban also has developed an educational syllabus.[7] Languages on the peninsula can be divided into three major groups, Negrito, Senoi, and Malayic, further divided into 18 subgroups.[3] The Semai is used in education.[7] Thai is also spoken in northern parts of the peninsula, especially in Northern Kedah and Langkawi, Perlis, Northern Perak, Northern Terengganu, and Northern Kelantan.[8]

English

Malaysian English, also known as Malaysian Standard English (MySE), is a form of English derived from British English, although there is little official use of the term except with relation to education. English was used in the Parliament briefly upon independence (then as Federation of Malaya), prior to a gradual and complete transition to the Malay language, and continued to be used today for specific terminologies with permission. English, however, remains an official language in the State Legislative Assemblies and Courts of Sabah and Sarawak. [9] [10] [11]

Malaysian English also sees wide usage in business, along with Manglish, which is a colloquial form of English with heavy Malay, Chinese, and Tamil influences. Most Malaysians are conversant in English, although some are only fluent in the Manglish form. The Malaysian government officially discourages the use of Manglish.[12] Many businesses in Malaysia conduct their transactions in English, and it is sometimes used in official correspondence. Examinations are based on British English.

English was the predominant language in government until 1969.[5] English served as the medium of instruction for Maths and Sciences in all public schools per the PPSMI policy, but reverted to Bahasa Malaysia in national schools and mother-tongue languages in 2012.[13] The Parent Action Group for Education and former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has called for science and math to be taught in English again.[3][14][15]

Chinese language and regiolects

As a whole, Standard Chinese (Mandarin) and its Malaysian dialect are the most widely spoken forms among Malaysian Chinese, as it is a lingua franca for Chinese who speak mutually unintelligible varieties; Mandarin is also the language of instruction in Chinese schools and an important language in business.[3]

As most Malaysian Chinese have ancestry from the southern provinces of China, various southern Chinese varieties are spoken in Malaysia (in addition to Standard Chinese (Mandarin) which originated from northern China and was introduced through the educational system). The more common forms in Peninsular Malaysia are Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka, Hainanese, and Hokchew.[8] Hokkien is mostly spoken in Penang, Northern Perak and Kedah whereas Cantonese is mostly spoken in Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur. In Sarawak, most ethnic Chinese speak Hokkien, Hokchew, or Hakka while Hakka predominates in Sabah except in the city of Sandakan where Cantonese is more often spoken, despite the Hakka origins of the Chinese residing there.

As with Malaysian youths of other ethnicities, most Chinese youth are multilingual and can speak at least three languages with at least moderate fluency - Mandarin, English, and Malay, as well as their Chinese regiolect and/or the dominant Chinese regiolect in their area. However, most Chinese regiolects are losing ground to Mandarin, due to its prestige and use as the language of instruction in Chinese vernacular schools. Some parents speak exclusively in Mandarin with their children. Some of the less-spoken regiolects, such as Hainanese, are facing extinction.

Indian languages

Tamil and its Malaysian dialect are used predominantly by Tamils, who form a majority of Malaysian Indians.[16] It is especially used in Peninsular Malaysia.

Other South Asian languages such as Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, Malayalam, Sinhala and Telugu are also spoken.

Creoles

A small number of Malaysians have Eurasian ancestry and speak creole languages, such as the Portuguese-based Malaccan Creoles.[17] A Spanish-based creole, Zamboangueño, a dialect of Chavacano, has spread into Sabah from the southern Philippines.[18]

Sign languages

Sign languages include Malaysian Sign Language and the older Selangor Sign Language and Penang Sign Language. No sign language is used in the education of the deaf. Instead, Manually Coded Malay is used.

List of languages

A sign at 7-Eleven stores showing common languages in Malaysia: Malay, English, Chinese, and Tamil

Native languages in Peninsular Malaysia

Language Code Speakers % of total population Region Family
Baba Malay mbf 12,000 0.0374 Melaka Malay creole
Batek btq 1,000 0.0031 Pahang, Kelantan, Terengganu Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Chitty Malay ccm 300 0.0009 Melaka Malay creole
Cheq Wong cwg 460 0.0014 Pahang Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Duano' dup 4,000 0.0125 Johor Malayic (Austronesian)
Jah Hut jah 4,191 0.0131 Pahang Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Jahai jhi 1,000 0.0031 Kelantan, Perak, Pahang Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Jakun jak 28,000 0.0874 Pahang, Johor Malayic (Austronesian)
Jedek - 280 0.0009 Kelantan Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Kedah Malay meo 2,600,000 8.1124 Kedah, Penang, Perlis, Perak Malayic (Austronesian)
Kelantan Malay mfa 1,500,000 4.6802 Kelantan, Terengganu Malayic (Austronesian)
Kenaboi xbn extinct 0.0000 Negeri Sembilan Unclassified
Kensiu kns 259 0.0008 Kedah Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Kintaq knq 110 0.0003 Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Kristang mcm 2,200 0.0069 Melaka Portuguese creole
Lanoh lnh 240 0.0007 Perak Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Malay (Malaysian) msa, zlm, zsm 20,000,000 62.4031 nationwide Malayic (Austronesian)
Mah Meri mhe 3,000 0.0094 Selangor Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Manglish - - 0.0000 mostly in urban centres like Kuala Lumpur English creole
Minriq mnq 270 0.0008 Kelantan Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Mintil mzt 180 0.0006 Pahang Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Negeri Sembilan Malay zmi 500,000 1.5601 Negeri Sembilan, Melaka Malayic (Austronesian)
Orang Kanaq orn 80 0.0002 Johor Malayic (Austronesian)
Orang Seletar ors 1,500 0.0047 Johor Malayic (Austronesian)
Pahang Malay zlm-pah - 0.0000 Pahang Malayic (Austronesian)
Perak Malay mly-per 1,400,000 4.3682 Perak Malayic (Austronesian)
Rawa Malay - - 0.0000 Perak Malayic (Austronesian)
Sabüm sbo extinct 0.0000 Perak Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Semai sea 44,000 0.1373 Pahang, Perak Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Semaq Beri szc 2,000 0.0062 Pahang, Terengganu Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Semelai sza 4,100 0.0128 Pahang, Johor Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Semnam ssm 670 0.0021 Perak Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Southern Thai sou 70,000 0.2184 Kedah, Kelantan Tai (Tai-Kadai)
Temiar tea 15,000 0.0468 Pahang Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Ten'edn/Mos tnz 370 0.0012 Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Temoq tmo - 0.0000 Pahang Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Temuan tmw 23,300 0.0727 Selangor, Pahang, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka Malayic (Austronesian)
Terengganu Malay zlm-inl, zlm-coa 1,100,000 3.4322 Terengganu, Pahang, Johor Malayic (Austronesian)
Wila' - extinct 0.0000 Penang Aslian (Austroasiatic)

Native languages in Malaysian Borneo

Language Code Speakers % of total population Region Family
Abai - - 0.0000 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Bahau bhv 19,000 0.0593 Sarawak Kayan-Murik (Austronesian)
Bajaw bdr 436,672 1.3625 Sabah, Labuan, Sarawak Sama-Bajaw (Austronesian)
Balau blg 5,000 0.0156 Sarawak Malayic (Austronesian)
Belait beg - 0.0000 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Berawan zbc, zbe, zbw 3,600 0.0112 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Biatah bth 72,000 0.2247 Sarawak Land Dayak (Austronesian)
Bintulu bny 4,200 0.0131 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Bonggi bdg 1,400 0.0044 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Bookan bnb 1,700 0.0053 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Brunei Malay kxd - 0.0000 Sabah, Sarawak, Labuan Malayic (Austronesian)
Brunei Bisaya bsb 60,000 0.1872 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Bukar Sadong sdo 49,000 0.1529 Sarawak Land Dayak (Austronesian)
Bukitan bkn 860 0.0027 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Coastal Kadazan kzj 60,000 0.1872 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Cocos Malay coa 5,000 0.0156 Sabah Malay creole
Central Dusun dtp 140,000 0.4368 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Daro-Matu dro 7,600 0.0237 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Dumpas dmv 1,100 0.0034 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Dusun kzt, tdu, ktr 36,000 0.1123 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Eastern Kadazan dtb 20,600 0.0643 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Gana' gnq 1,000 0.0031 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Iban iba 790,000 2.4649 Sarawak Malayic (Austronesian)
Ida'an dbj 10,000 0.0312 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Iranun ilm 22,000 0.0000 Sabah Philippine (Austronesian)
Jagoi sne 29,000 0.0905 Sarawak Land Dayak (Austronesian)
Jangkang djo 37,000 0.1154 Sarawak Land Dayak (Austronesian)
Kajaman kag 500 0.0016 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Kalabakan kve 2,200 0.0069 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Kanowit kxn 200 0.0006 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Kayan (Baram) kys 13,400 0.0418 Sarawak Kayan-Murik (Austronesian)
Kelabit kzi 5,963 0.0186 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Kendayan knx - 0.0000 Sarawak Malayic (Austronesian)
Keningau Murut kxi 7,000 0.0218 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Kinabatangan dmg, ruu, low 10,000 0.0312 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Kimaragang kqr - 0.0000 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Kiput kyi 2,500 0.0078 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Klias River Kadazan kqt 1,000 0.0031 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Kota Marudu Talantang grm 1,800 0.0056 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Kuijau dkr 7,910 0.0247 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Lahanan lhn 350 0.0011 Sarawak Melanau-Kajang (Austronesian)
Lelak llk extinct 0.0000 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Lengilu lgi 3 0.0000 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Lotud dtr 20,000 0.0624 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Lun Bawang lnd 16,000 0.0499 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Lundayeh xkl 9,125 0.0285 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Mainstream Kenyah xkl 50,000 0.1560 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Maranao mrw - 0.0000 Sabah Philippine (Austronesian)
Melanau mel, sdx 110,000 0.3432 Sarawak Melanau-Kajang (Austronesian)
Minokok mqq 2,000 0.0062 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Molbog pwm 6,700 0.0209 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Murik Kayan mxr 1,120 0.0035 Sarawak Kayan-Murik (Austronesian)
Narom nrm 2,420 0.0076 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Nonukan Tidong tid 20,000 0.0624 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Okolod kqv 5,000 0.0156 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Paluan plz 5,500 0.0172 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Papar dpp 500 0.0016 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Penan pez, pne 13,000 0.0406 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Punan Batu pnm 30 0.0001 Sarawak Melanau-Kajang (Austronesian)
Remun lkj 3,500 0.0109 Sarawak Malayic (Austronesian)
Rungus drg 60,000 0.1872 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Sa'ban snv 2,000 0.0062 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Sabah Bisaya bsy 21,000 0.0655 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Sabah Malay msi - 0.0000 Sabah Malay creole
Sama ssb, sml, sse 80,000 0.0000 Sabah Sama-Bajaw (Austronesian)
Sarawak Malay zlm-sar 600,000 1.8721 Sarawak Malayic (Austronesian)
Sebop sib 1,730 0.0054 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Sebuyau snb 9,000 0.0281 Sarawak Malayic (Austronesian)
Sekapan skp 750 0.0023 Sarawak Melanau-Kajang (Austronesian)
Selungai Murut slg 1,200 0.0037 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Sembakung sbr 2,000 0.0062 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Seru szd extinct 0.0000 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Serudung srk 350 0.0011 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Sian spg 50 0.0002 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Sungai abf 500 0.0016 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Sugut Dusun kzs 240,000 0.7488 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Tatana' txx 21,000 0.0655 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Tausug tsg 209,000 0.6521 Sabah Philippine (Austronesian)
Tagol mvv 50,000 0.1560 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Timugon tih 9,000 0.0281 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Tombonuwo txa 13,000 0.0406 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Tring tgq 550 0.0017 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Tringgus trx 850 0.0027 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Tutoh ttw 600 0.0019 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Ukit umi 120 0.0004 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Uma' Lasan xky 6,000 0.0187 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)

Other languages recognised as Native

Estimated number of speakers in Malaysia as of 2017:[19]

Language Code Speakers Family
Acehnese ace 82,000 Chamic (Austronesian)
Banjarese bjn 26,000 Malayic (Austronesian)
Buginese bug 141,000 South Sulawesi (Austronesian)
Cham cja 13,000 Chamic (Austronesian)
Javanese jav 649,000 Javanese (Austronesian)
Kerinci kvr Malayic (Austronesian)
Mandailing btm Northwest Sumatra–Barrier Islands (Austronesian)
Minangkabau min Malayic (Austronesian)

Malaysian Chinese languages

Estimated number of speakers in Malaysia as of 2017:[19]

Language Code Speakers Family
Cantonese yue 1,415,000 Sino-Tibetan
Foochow fzho 260,000 Sino-Tibetan
Hakka hak 1,752,000 Sino-Tibetan
Hainanese nan 380,781 Sino-Tibetan
Hokkien nan 1,928,000 Sino-Tibetan
Mandarin cmn 1,000,000 Sino-Tibetan
Min Bei mnp 389,000 Sino-Tibetan
Teochew nan 1,017,000 Sino-Tibetan

Malaysian Indian languages

Estimated number of speakers in Malaysia as of 2017:[19]

Language Code Speakers Family
Gujarati guj 29,000 Indo-European
Hindi hin 58,000 Indo-European
Bengali Ben 79,000 Indo-European
Malayalam mal 172,000 Dravidian
Punjabi pan 66,000 Indo-European
Tamil tam 1,851,000 Dravidian
Telugu tel 115,000 Dravidian
Urdu urd 14,000 Indo-European

Foreign languages

See also

References

  1. ^ "Ethnologue report for Malaysia". Ethnologue.com. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  2. ^ "Ethnologue report for Malaysia (Peninsular)". Ethnologue.com. Archived from the original on 10 May 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Kamila Ghazali. "National Identity and Minority Languages". UN Chronicle. Archived from the original on November 2, 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  4. ^ Constitution of Malaysia:Article 152
  5. ^ a b Barbara Watson Andaya; Leonard Y. Andaya (15 September 1984). A History of Malaysia. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-312-38121-9.
  6. ^ K. Alexander Adelaar; Nikolaus Himmelmann (1 January 2005). The Austronesian Languages of Asia and Madagascar. Psychology Press. pp. 397–. ISBN 978-0-7007-1286-1.
  7. ^ a b Luke Rintod (30 November 2010). "Speak up, native language champions urged". Free Malaysia Today. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  8. ^ a b "Malaysia". Cia.gov. Retrieved 26 October 2010.
  9. ^ "My Constitution: Sabah, Sarawak and special interests". The Malaysian Bar. The Malaysian Bar. 2 February 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2019. English has been the official language of the State Legislative Assemblies and Courts in Sabah and Sarawak since Malaysia Day, Sept 16, 1963. Any change of the official language to Bahasa Melayu can only become effective when the State Legislative Assembly of Sabah or Sarawak agrees to adopt federal laws that make Bahasa Melayu the official language.
  10. ^ "Article 32 of the National Language Act has no legal effect in Sarawak". Dayak Daily. Subang Jaya, Selangor. 5 September 2018. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  11. ^ "S'wak govt never agreed to change present policy on English usage". Borneo Post. Kuching, Sarawak. 5 September 2018. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  12. ^ Zimmer, Benjamin (5 October 2006). "Language Log: Malaysia cracks down on "salad language"". Itre.cis.upenn.edu. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
  13. ^ "Math and Science back to Bahasa, mother tongues". The Star Online. 8 July 2009. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  14. ^ Mohd Farhan Darwis (12 November 2013). "Dr Mahathir calls for Science and Maths to be taught in English, again". The Malaysian Insider. Archived from the original on 2014-10-17. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  15. ^ "PAGE hands in second memorandum". The Star Online. 9 July 2010. Archived from the original on 2014-10-17. Retrieved 8 September 2010. Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced last year that the policy of Teaching of Mathematics and Science in English (known by its Malay acronym, PPSMI) would be scrapped from 2012.
  16. ^ Barbara A. West (1 January 2009). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4381-1913-7.
  17. ^ "Malaysian Creole Portuguese: Asian, African or European?". 17. University of Texas. 1975: 211–236. JSTOR 30027570. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  18. ^ Susanne Michaelis (2008). Roots of Creole Structures: Weighing the Contribution of Substrates and Superstrates. John Benjamins Publishing. ISBN 90-272-5255-6.
  19. ^ a b c "Country: Malaysia". Joshua Project.

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