|Native to||Cocos (Keeling) Islands (de jure)|
|Native speakers||77 million (2007)
Total: more than 215 million
|Official language in||Indonesia
Cocos (Keeling) Islands (de jure)
|Recognised minority language in||Indonesia (Local Malay enjoys the status of a regional language in Sumatra apart from the national standard of Indonesian)|
|Regulated by||Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (Institute of Language and Literature);
Majlis Bahasa Brunei–Indonesia–Malaysia (Brunei–Indonesia–Malaysia Language Council – MABBIM) (a trilateral joint-venture)
Indonesia Singapore and Brunei, where Standard Malay is an official language East Timor, where Indonesian is a working languageSouthern Thailand and the Cocos Isl., where other varieties of Malay are spoken
The Malay language, or Bahasa Melayu, is a language spoken by ethnic Malays, an ethnic group that live in the Malay Peninsula and the Malay Archipelago in Southeast Asia, as well as the Austronesian people of the area. It is the national language of Malaysia (Malaysian), Brunei, Indonesia (Indonesian), an official language in Singapore, a working language in East Timor (Indonesian), and a recognized and significant minority in Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and Cambodia. The Malay language is part of the Austronesian family of languages.
Malay vs Indonesian
There are an innumerable amounts of dialects, creoles, versions and forms of Malay. The language is extremely diversified. In Indonesia, the language is based on the distinct Riau-Johor dialect and is standardized as Bahasa Indonesia, "Indonesian language". In Malaysia, the language is registered as Bahasa Malaysia, "Malaysian". In Singapore, Brunei and Thailand is referred to as Bahasa Melayu, "Malay language". Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Melayu are the same versions and based on the same dialect, Bahasa Indonesia however contains many differences such as false cognates and false friends when compared with Malaysian/Malay. Yet, 80% of Indonesian and Malaysian are cognates. In southern Thailand, the Malays living in the country do speak Bahasa Melayu, but their also speak a distinct dialect of Malay, known as Yawi or "Bahasa Jawi". Bahasa Melayu is Brunei's national language but Bruneians also speak their own dialect of Malay, known as Brunei Melayu or "Bruneian Malay". Indonesians do not see Indonesian and Malaysian/Malay as the same language, and are generally upset when Bahasa Indonesia is ever referred to as "Malay" or "Indonesian Malay". Malay is distinguished as a local language in Indonesia as opposed to the national language, Bahasa Indonesia. The Malays in Indonesia learn their own dialects of Malay before learning Indonesian. Malaysians see the two as the same language.
Malay is normally written with the Latin alphabet called Rumi. But there is also a modified Arabic alphabet that is called Jawi. Rumi is official in Malaysia and Singapore, and the Indonesian language has a different official orthography that uses also the Latin script. Rumi and Jawi are both official in Brunei. Efforts are currently being undertaken to preserve Jawi script and to revive its use amongst Malays in Malaysia, and students taking Malay language examination in Malaysia have the option of answering questions using Jawi script. But the Latin alphabet is still the most commonly used script in Malaysia, both for official and informal purposes.
Historically, Malay has been written in various types of script. Before the introduction of Arabic script in the Malay region, Malay was written using Pallava, Kawi and Rencong script and are still in use today by the Champa Malay in Vietnam and Cambodia.
Images for kids
Rencong alphabet, native writing systems found in Malay Peninsula, central and South Sumatra. The text reads (Voorhoeve's spelling): "haku manangis ma / njaru ka'u ka'u di / saru tijada da / tang [hitu hadik sa]", which is translated by Voorhoeve as: "I am weeping, calling you; though called, you do not come" (hitu adik sa- is the rest of 4th line.
Malay road signs in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Malay language Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.