Malay language

Malay (/məˈl/;[6] Malay: bahasa Melayu, Jawi: بهاس ملايو, Rejang: ꤷꥁꤼ ꤸꥍꤾꤿꥈ) is an Austronesian language officially spoken in Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore and unofficially spoken in East Timor and parts of Thailand. It is spoken by 290 million people[7] (around 260 million as Indonesian)[8] across the Malay world.

Bahasa Melayu
بهاس ملايو
ꤷꥁꤼ ꤸꥍꤾꤿꥈ
Pronunciation[ mə.la.ju]
Native toIndonesia, Malaysia, East Timor, Brunei, Singapore, Christmas Island, Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Native speakers
L1 – 77 million (2007)[1]
Total (L1 and L2): 200–250 million (2009)[2]
Early forms
Standard forms
Latin (Malay alphabet)
Arabic (Jawi alphabet)[3]

Thai alphabet (in Thailand)
Malay Braille

Historically Pallava alphabet, Kawi alphabet, Rencong alphabet, Rejang script
Manually Coded Malay
Sistem Isyarat Bahasa Indonesia
Official status
Official language in
Recognised minority
language in
 United Nations (Indonesian used at UN peacekeeping missions)
(Local Malay enjoys the status of a regional language in Sumatra and Kalimantan (Borneo) apart from the national standard of Indonesian)
 Thailand (as Bahasa Jawi)
 Philippines (as a trade language with Malaysia and in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Balabac, Palawan)
 East Timor (Indonesian used as a working language and a trade language with Indonesia)[5]
 Christmas Island
 Cocos (Keeling) Islands (as Cocos Malay)
Regulated byBadan Pengembangan Bahasa dan Perbukuan (Language and Book Development Agency) in Indonesia;
Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (Institute of Language and Literature) in Malaysia;
Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Brunei (Language and Literature Bureau) in Brunei
Majlis Bahasa Melayu Singapura (Malay Language Council) in Singapore;
Majlis Bahasa Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia (Brunei–Indonesia–Malaysia Language Council – MABBIM) (a trilateral joint-venture)
Language codes
ISO 639-1ms
ISO 639-2may (B)
msa (T)
ISO 639-3msa – inclusive code
Individual codes:
zlm  Malay (individual language)
kxd  Brunei Malay
ind  Indonesian
zsm  Malaysian
jax  Jambi Malay
meo  Kedah Malay
kvr  Kerinci
xmm  Manado Malay
min  Minangkabau
mui  Musi
zmi  Negeri Sembilan
max  North Moluccan Malay
mfa  Kelantan-Pattani Malay
coa  Cocos Malay
Glottologindo1326  partial match
  Singapore and Brunei, where Malay is an official language
  East Timor, where Indonesian is a working language
  Southern Thailand and the Cocos Isl., where other varieties of Malay are spoken
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A young Malay speaker
An Indonesian speaker
A Malay speaker

As the Bahasa Kebangsaan or Bahasa Nasional ("national language") of several states, Standard Malay has various official names. In Malaysia, it is designated as either Bahasa Malaysia ("Malaysian language") or Bahasa Melayu ("Malay language"). In Singapore and Brunei, it is called Bahasa Melayu ("Malay language") and in Indonesia, an autonomous normative variety called Bahasa Indonesia ("Indonesian language") is designated the Bahasa Persatuan/Pemersatu ("unifying language"/lingua franca). However, in areas of Central to Southern Sumatra where vernacular varieties of Malay are indigenous, Indonesians refer to it as Bahasa Melayu and consider it one of their regional languages.

Standard Malay, also called Court Malay, was the literary standard of the pre-colonial Malacca and Johor Sultanates and so the language is sometimes called Malacca, Johor or Riau Malay (or various combinations of those names) to distinguish it from the various other Malayan languages. According to Ethnologue 16, several of the Malayan varieties they currently list as separate languages, including the Orang Asli varieties of Peninsular Malay, are so closely related to standard Malay that they may prove to be dialects. There are also several Malay trade and creole languages which are based on a lingua franca derived from Classical Malay as well as Macassar Malay, which appears to be a mixed language.