Languages in Malaysia - Diverse Languages of the Diverse Country

The most popular coastal region in the world is home to hundreds of people with their own unique cultures to share with the world. Now, with different cultures tags along different languages, Malaysia is known to be filled with people speaking roughly 137 different dialects including both global and indigenous. The reason behind the umpteen number of lingos spoken in Malaysia’s is its rich history of travellers migrating to the country for a better life, thus making it a melting point for many cultures and languages alike.

Few of the most widely spoken languages in Malaysia are Malay, English, Chinese, Tamil and a bunch of common indigenous languages.

Malay - The Official Language of Malaysia

A billboard in Malay language, Malaysian languages
Source
Officially known as Bahasa Malaysia, Malay is the official language of Malaysia and is spoken by over eighty percent of its population. There are a variety of ten different dialects of this language spoken throughout the country. Of these various dialects, Bahasa Indonesia, common to the southern Malay Peninsula, is the most important and widely used by all. Also, not to be forgotten, the national anthem of Malaysia is also written in Malay language.

Common Phrases and Translation

HelloHallo
WelcomeSelamatdatang
Good byeSelamatjalan/ selamattinggal
See you againJumpalagi
YesYa
NoTidak
Thank youTerimaKasih
How are you?Apakhabar?
I'm fineKhabarbaik
PleaseSila
My name is.....Namasayaialah…
Can you speak Bahasa Malaysia?BolehcakapMlayu?
I don’t understand Sayatidakfaham
HelpTolong

English - Most Commonly Used Malaysian Language

Along with Malay, English is one of the most common languages spoken in Malaysia. It is used widely as a medium of education, communication and government houses. The examinations held here are all based in British English. To crack business deals at an international level, Malaysians have grown prone to the usage of the most commonly used language in the world. It has also been helpful in establishing useful relations between different cultural groups and has helped render harmony. There has also been a steep rise in English speakers with about fifty percent of the people who are literate in English.

Chinese

Chinese Signs, Malaysian languages
Chinese Signs (Source)
Standard Chinese i.e. Mandarin and its adapted Malaysian dialect comes under the category of Malaysian Chinese and is spoken by quite a number of the country’s population. About ninety three percent of Chinese families based in Kuala Lumpur not only speak Mandarin but are also fluent in some of its adapted dialects. Although Mandarin is generally spoken by the Chinese in Malaysia, Hokkien is the most popular dialect used in the country.

Common Phrases and Translations

HelloNǐhǎo (Nee how)
Thank youXièxiè (Shieh-shieh)
You're welcomeBù kèqì (Boo kuh-chi)
Good morningZǎo (Zhow)
My name is.....Wǒ jiào... (Wuh jeow...)
How much?Duō shǎo? (Dwuh shauw?)
I don't understandWǒ bù dǒng (Wuh boo dong)
YesShì (Sheh)
NoBù shì (Bu-sheh)
Good byeZàijiàn (Zhai-jian)

Tamil

Tamil billboard, Languages of Malaysia
A roadsign in Tamil (Source)
A good amount of Indians who occupy the Malaysian population speak Tamil as their native language. There are more than five hundred Tamil medium schools spread throughout Malaysia. Other South asian languages in Malaysia are Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, Malayalam and Telugu.
 
Common Phrases and Translation

Hello / WelcomeVanakkam
What?Enna?
Where? Yenga
How?Yeppadi?
Why?Yen/Yedhukku?
When?Yeppo?
ThanksNandri
SorryManichurunga / Manippu
You're very kind!Ungalai santhithathil magizhchi or Magizhchi!
Where are you from?Nienga engirundhu varrienga?

Indegenious Languages

Kazadandusuns and Iban are the most widely spoken indigenous languages in Malaysia, spoken by the people in Sarawak. These two languages have also developed their own educational syllabuses. Other than these, there are over thirty native groupings, each having its own dialects that are on the brink of extinction. They face extinction because of their narrow impact and their inability to reach a much larger audience. Due to the small size of these indigenous groups these Malaysian languages are dying as language spoken by immigrants gain dominance.

Common Phrases and Translation in Iban

WelcomeSelamat Datai
How are you?Bakani gaya kitak?
My name is... Nama Aku
Where are you from?Dik datai ‘ari ni?
Good morningSelamat pagi
Good byeBetemu baru ila
Thank you Tabik Basa
I don’t understandAku enda mereti
I don’t knowAku enda nemu

With these fundamental phrases in stock with you, you now have a basic idea on how to communicate in different languages of Malaysia on your next trip. These could help your trip become a little easier as these are quick conversation starters and can help you in your time of need. And as always, Google translator is always an option for you to consider!

This post was published by Shristi Jaiswal

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