Languages of Malaysia
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, 41 of which are found in Peninsular Malaysia. 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. 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..
The official language of Malaysia is known as Bahasa Melayu. It is a standardised form of the Malay language. There are 10 dialects of Malay used throughout Malaysia. Malay became predominant after the 1969 race riots. 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. Some of these languages remain strong, being used in education and daily life. 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. Languages on the peninsula can be divided into three major groups, Negrito, Senoi, and Malayic, further divided into 18 subgroups. The Semai is used in education. Thai is also spoken in northern parts of the peninsula, especially in Northern Kedah and Langkawi, Perlis, Northern Perak, Northern Terengganu, and Northern Kelantan.
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. Most Malaysians are conversant in English.
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.
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. 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.
Other South Asian Languages
A small number of Malaysians have Eurasian ancestry and speak creole languages, such as the Portuguese-based Malaccan Creoles. A Spanish-based creole, Zamboangueño, a dialect of Chavacano, has spread into Sabah from the southern Philippines.
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
Other languages recognised as "Bumiputera"
|Buginese||bug||141,000||South Sulawesi (Austronesian)|
|Mandailing||btm||Northwest Sumatran (Austronesian)|
Malaysian Chinese languages
Malaysian Indian languages
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- Constitution of Malaysia:Article 152
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- Languages of Malaysia at Muturzikin.com