Malaysian Sign Language

Malaysian Sign Language
Bahasa Isyarat Malaysia, BIM
Native to Malaysia
Native speakers
24,000 (no date)[1]
French Sign
Language codes
ISO 639-3 xml
Glottolog mala1412[2]

Malaysian Sign Language (Malay: Bahasa Isyarat Malaysia, or BIM) is the principal language of the deaf community of Malaysia. BIM has many dialects, differing from state to state.[3]

Malaysian Sign Language was born when the Malaysian Federation of the Deaf was established in 1998 and use has expanded among deaf leaders and participants. It is based on American Sign Language (ASL), but the two are considered different languages. BIM in turn has been the basis for Indonesian Sign Language.

Kod Tangan Bahasa Malaysia or Manually Coded Malay (KTBM) was created by hearing educators and linguists in between 1980 and 1986 and remains the only form of sign recognized by the Malaysian Ministry of Education. However, it is not a language in itself, but a means of manually coding the Malay language.

Sign languages which predate BIM in Malaysia are Penang Sign (PSL) and Selangor Sign (Kuala Lumpur Sign, SSL or KLSL). Additionally, every parent of deaf children has own signs called home signs to make a gestural communication. The use of such home signs among peranakan or ethnic Chinese users of BIM may be behind controversy over the supposed influence of Chinese Sign Languages, which does not seem to be documented and may merely be based on ethnic stereotyping.


  1. Malaysian Sign Language at Ethnologue (16th ed., 2009)
  2. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Malaysian Sign Language". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. Penterjemahan dan Bahasa Isyarat By Hasuria Che Omar.


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