Languages of Malaysia

Languages of Malaysia
The distribution of language families of Malaysia shown by colours:
     Malayic
     Bornean
     Aslian
     Land Dayak
     Sama–Bajaw
     Philippine
     Creole
     Areas with multiple languages
Official languages Malaysian, English (recognised, official in Sarawak)
National languages Malay
Indigenous languages

(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, Malaysian Mandarin, Malaysian Tamil, 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)
Main foreign languages English, Cantonese, Hainanese, Hakka, Hokchew, Hokkien, Indonesian, Malayalam, Mandarin Chinese, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu
Sign languages Malaysian Sign Language
Common keyboard layouts

Life in Malaysia

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, however English may take preference in many settings and is spoken by the majority of the population. 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 Chinese from Guangzhou;Fujian provinces and the Hakka Chinese..

Malay

The official language of Malaysia is known as Bahasa Melayu. 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. It shows some differences in word usage from British English as well as influences from local languages, and is usually spoken with a distinctive accent. Malaysians however also use a kind of pidgin English called Manglish. It is marked by many loanwords from Malay, Chinese, and Tamil as well as grammatical features similar to those language that are not present in other forms of English.[9] Most Malaysians are conversant in English.

Chinese languages

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 native Chinese language and/or the dominant Chinese language in their area. However, most native vernacular Chinese languages are losing ground to Mandarin, due to the prestige of Mandarin and its status as language of instruction in school. Some parents speak exclusively in Mandarin with their children. Some of the less-spoken language such as Hainanese are facing extinction.

Tamil

Tamil and its Malaysian dialect are used predominantly by Tamils, who form a majority of Malaysian Indians.[10] It is especially used in Peninsular Malaysia.

Other South Asian Languages

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.[11] A Spanish-based creole, Zamboangueño, a dialect of Chavacano, has spread into Sabah from the southern Philippines.[12]

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

LanguageCodeSpeakersRegionFamily
Baba Malaymbf12,000MelakaMalay creole
Batekbtq1,000Pahang, Kelantan, TerengganuAslian (Austroasiatic)
Chitty Malayccm300MelakaMalay creole
Cheq Wongcwg460PahangAslian (Austroasiatic)
Duano'dup4,000JohorMalayic (Austronesian)
Jah Hutjah4,191PahangAslian (Austroasiatic)
Jahaijhi1,000Kelantan, Perak, PahangAslian (Austroasiatic)
Jakunjak28,000Pahang, JohorMalayic (Austronesian)
Jedek-280KelantanAslian (Austroasiatic)
Kedah Malaymeo2,600,000Kedah, Penang, Perlis, PerakMalayic (Austronesian)
Kelantan Malaymfa1,500,000Kelantan, TerengganuMalayic (Austronesian)
KenaboixbnextinctNegeri SembilanUnclassified
Kensiukns259KedahAslian (Austroasiatic)
Kintaqknq110Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Kristangmcm2,200MelakaPortuguese creole
Lanohlnh240PerakAslian (Austroasiatic)
Malay (Malaysian)msa, zlm, zsm20,000,000nationwideMalayic (Austronesian)
Mah Merimhe3,000SelangorAslian (Austroasiatic)
Manglish--mostly in urban centres like Kuala LumpurEnglish creole
Minriqmnq270KelantanAslian (Austroasiatic)
Mintilmzt180PahangAslian (Austroasiatic)
Negeri Sembilan Malayzmi500,000Negeri Sembilan, MelakaMalayic (Austronesian)
Orang Kanaqorn80JohorMalayic (Austronesian)
Orang Seletarors1,500JohorMalayic (Austronesian)
Pahang Malayzlm-pah-PahangMalayic (Austronesian)
Perak Malaymly-per1,400,000PerakMalayic (Austronesian)
Rawa Malay--PerakMalayic (Austronesian)
SabümsboextinctPerakAslian (Austroasiatic)
Semaisea44,000Pahang, PerakAslian (Austroasiatic)
Semaq Beriszc2,000Pahang, TerengganuAslian (Austroasiatic)
Semelaisza4,100Pahang, JohorAslian (Austroasiatic)
Semnamssm670PerakAslian (Austroasiatic)
Southern Thaisou70,000Kedah, KelantanTai (Tai-Kadai)
Temiartea15,000PahangAslian (Austroasiatic)
Ten'edn/Mostnz370Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Temoqtmo-PahangAslian (Austroasiatic)
Temuantmw23,300Selangor, Pahang, Negeri Sembilan, MelakaMalayic (Austronesian)
Terengganu Malayzlm-inl, zlm-coa1,100,000Terengganu, Pahang, JohorMalayic (Austronesian)
Wila'-extinctPenangAslian (Austroasiatic)
Abai--SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Bahaubhv19,000SarawakKayan-Murik (Austronesian)
Bajawbdr436,672Sabah, Labuan, SarawakSama-Bajaw (Austronesian)
Balaublg5,000SarawakMalayic (Austronesian)
Belaitbeg-SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Berawanzbc, zbe, zbw3,600SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Biatahbth72,000SarawakLand Dayak (Austronesian)
Bintulubny4,200SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Bonggibdg1,400SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Bookanbnb1,700SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Brunei Malaykxd-Sabah, Sarawak, LabuanMalayic (Austronesian)
Brunei Bisayabsb60,000SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Bukar Sadongsdo49,000SarawakLand Dayak (Austronesian)
Bukitanbkn860SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Coastal Kadazankzj60,000SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Cocos Malaycoa5,000SabahMalay creole
Central Dusundtp140,000SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Daro-Matudro7,600SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Dumpasdmv1,100SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Dusunkzt, tdu, ktr36,000SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Eastern Kadazandtb20,600SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Gana'gnq1,000SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Ibaniba790,000SarawakMalayic (Austronesian)
Ida'andbj10,000SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Iranunill-SabahPhilippine (Austronesian)
Jagoisne29,000SarawakLand Dayak (Austronesian)
Jangkangdjo37,000SarawakLand Dayak (Austronesian)
Kajamankag500SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Kalabakankve2,200SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Kanowitkxn200SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Kayan (Baram)kys13,400SarawakKayan-Murik (Austronesian)
Kelabitkzi5,963SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Kendayanknx-SarawakMalayic (Austronesian)
Keningau Murutkxi7,000SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Kinabatangandmg, ruu, low10,000SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Kimaragangkqr-SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Kiputkyi2,500SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Klias River Kadazankqt1,000SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Kota Marudu Talantanggrm1,800SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Kuijaudkr7,910SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Lahananlhn350SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
LelakllkextinctSarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Lengilulgi3SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Lotuddtr20,000SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Lun Bawanglnd16,000SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Lundayehxkl9,125SabahNorth Bornean

(Austronesian)

Mainstream Kenyahxkl50,000SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Maranaomrw-SabahPhilippine (Austronesian)
Melanaumel, sdx110,000SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Minokokmqq2,000SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Molbogpwm6,700SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Murik Kayanmxr1,120SarawakKayan-Murik (Austronesian)
Naromnrm2,420SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Nonukan Tidongtid20,000SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Okolodkqv5,000SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Paluanplz5,500SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Papardpp500SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Penanpez, pne13,000SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Punan Batupnm30SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Remunlkj3,500SarawakMalayic (Austronesian)
Rungusdrg60,000SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Sa'bansnv2,000SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Sabah Bisayabsy21,000SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Sabah Malaymsi-SabahMalay creole
Samassb, sml, sse-SabahSama-Bajaw (Austronesian)
Sarawak Malayzlm-sar600,000SarawakMalayic (Austronesian)
Sebopsib1,730SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Sebuyausnb9,000SarawakMalayic (Austronesian)
Sekapanskp750SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Selungai Murutslg1,200SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Sembakungsbr2,000SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
SeruszdextinctSarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Serudungsrk350SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Sianspg50SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Sungaiabf500SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Sugut Dusunkzs240,000SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Tatana'txx21,000SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Tausugtsg209,000SabahPhilippine (Austronesian)
Tagolmvv50,000SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Timugontih9,000SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Tombonuwotxa13,000SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Tringtgq550SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Tringgustrx850SabahNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Tutohttw600SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Ukitumi120SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)
Uma' Lasanxky6,000SarawakNorth Bornean (Austronesian)

Other languages recognised as "Bumiputera"

Estimated number of speakers in Malaysia as of 2017:[13]

LanguageCodeSpeakersFamily
Acehneseace82,000Chamic (Austronesian)
Banjaresebjn26,000Malayic (Austronesian)
Buginesebug141,000South Sulawesi (Austronesian)
Chamcja13,000Chamic (Austronesian)
Javanesejav649,000Javanese (Austronesian)
KerincikvrMalayic (Austronesian)
MandailingbtmNorthwest Sumatran (Austronesian)
MinangkabauminMalayic (Austronesian)

Malaysian Chinese languages

Estimated number of speakers in Malaysia as of 2017:[13]

LanguageCodeSpeakersFamily
Cantoneseyue1,415,000Sino-Tibetan
Foochowfzho260,000Sino-Tibetan
Hakkahak1,752,000Sino-Tibetan
Hainanesenan380,781Sino-Tibetan
Hokkiennan1,928,000Sino-Tibetan
Mandarincmn1,000,000Sino-Tibetan
Min Beimnp389,000Sino-Tibetan
Teochewnan1,017,000Sino-Tibetan

Malaysian Indian languages

Estimated number of speakers in Malaysia as of 2017:[13]

LanguageCodeSpeakersFamily
Gujaratiguj29,000Indo-European
Hindihin58,000Indo-European
BengaliBen79,000Indo-European
Malayalammal172,000Dravidian
Punjabipan66,000Indo-European
Tamiltam1,851,000Dravidian
Telugutel115,000Dravidian
Urduurd14,000Indo-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. 1 2 3 4 5 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. 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. 1 2 Luke Rintod (30 November 2010). "Speak up, native language champions urged". Free Malaysia Today. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  8. 1 2 "Malaysia". Cia.gov. Retrieved 26 October 2010.
  9. Lim Chin Lam (14 October 2011). "Primer on Manglish". The Star.
  10. Barbara A. West (1 January 2009). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. Infobase Publishing. ISBN 978-1-4381-1913-7.
  11. "Malaysian Creole Portuguese: Asian, African or European?". 17. University of Texas. 1975: 211–236. JSTOR 30027570.
  12. Susanne Michaelis (2008). Roots of Creole Structures: Weighing the Contribution of Substrates and Superstrates. John Benjamins Publishing. ISBN 90-272-5255-6.
  13. 1 2 3 "Country: Malaysia". Joshua Project.
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