Are There Many Languages In Malaysia?

Are There Many Languages In Malaysia?

When you visit, you realize while there appear to be many languages in Malaysia, surprisingly, you can understand a word or two.

With the various languages from diverse cultures and populations, Malaysians have developed an unofficial language known as ‘Manglish.’

The unique blend is a single sentence containing the top languages spoken in Malaysia – English, Malay, Chinese, and Tamil.

Now you know why it sounds familiar but incomprehensible, especially when Malaysians say they speak English!

A visitor to Malaysia often needs clarification, but some of the most popular slang words to kickstart your journey can be amusing!

What races are there in Malaysia?

The population comprises numerous diverse ethnic groups, each with a distinct culture and heritage.

These groups include the Malays, Orang Asli (the country’s indigenous people), Malaysian Chinese (mostly Han Chinese), and Malaysian Indians (primarily Tamils).

How many languages are in Malaysia?

A total of 137 living languages, with 41 of them found in Peninsular Malaysia.

The Malaysian government provides schooling at the primary level in each of the three major languages, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil.

To get by the easiest to learn and the essential language in Malaysia is Malay.

Malay, officially called Bahasa Malaysia, is the National Language of Malaysia.

As the country’s national language, Malay is spoken widely by 80 percent of its people, particularly in rural areas.

Are There Many Languages In Malaysia?

Are There Many Languages In Malaysia?

Can I learn to speak Malay?

Malay is considered one of the easiest Asian languages to learn as it has no conjugations, plurals, gender, and, best of all – no verb tenses!

Modern Malay alphabet uses the Latin alphabet, so it is easy for you to read it too.

If you speak Mandarin, you will notice that Mandarin is similar to Malay in terms of pronunciation and sentence structure.

Most people say Malay is more effortless than English, which means Mandarin is easier to learn than English.

Do all Malaysians speak Chinese?

Chinese Malaysians speak Mandarin and various Chinese language varieties, including dialects like Hokkien, Hakka, Cantonese, Teochew, and more.

Malaysians speak various Chinese language varieties, including both Mandarin and dialects.

Hokkien is the largest Chinese subgroup in Malaysia.

When the Zhangzhou Hokkiens first landed in Malaya, they settled northern regions of the peninsula, notably Penang, Kedah, Kelantan, and Terengganu.

Hokkiens from Quanzhou, on the other hand, made their homes in major towns in Sarawak and the southern states of Melaka and Johor.

Most of the Chinese population in the nation’s capital Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, and some parts of East Malaysia, speak Cantonese.

The fluency of one’s Cantonese varies across Malaysia.

It is simple for a Malaysian Chinese to pick up if you are not local, as the bulk of Cantonese speakers are from Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh, and the Hokkien speakers are from the northern and southern states.

Do other Malaysian races speak Chinese?

Malaysians are highly adaptable and can quickly learn the local language of their community.

Non-Chinese Malaysians fluent in Mandarin, Hokkien, or Cantonese can be found in metropolitan areas.

They can communicate fluently if a Malay or Tamil pon lives close by in a Hokkien and Cantonese community.

The same holds for Chinese residents of Malay or Tamil neighborhoods.

Malaysian Lifestyle Practices You Should Know

Malaysians speak Manglish, an informal English-based creole heavily influenced by the dominant languages of the country, Malay, Chinese languages, and Tamil.

Do Malaysians speak English well?

Most Malaysians can speak English because it is taught in schools.

However, some are more proficient than others.

Due to their upbringing speaking English at home, a tiny percentage of Malaysians of diverse races claim English to be their first language.

What’s the proper greeting in Malaysia?

“Salaam” is the standard spoken salutation in Malay.

To show respect, elders may be called “pakcik” (uncle) or “makcik” (aunty).

People younger than you may also refer to you in this manner.

A handshake is the standard greeting for people of all nationalities.

The traditional Malay greeting or salam resembles a handshake with both hands outstretched and without a grasp.

The man offers both hands, lightly touches his friend’s hands, then brings his hands back to his chest to mean, “I greet you from my heart.”

The visitor should reciprocate the salam.

Only offer your hand for a formal handshake after your counterpart has done so.

Place Hands On Chest (Salam Malaysia)

Affectionately known as Salam Malaysia, this is a more formal salutation for Malaysians who work in the public sector.

As an alternative to shaking hands, you can use this technique, which has even been approved by the Ministry of Health, in which you lay your right hand on the left side of the chest and then salute or say hello.

Tips for preventing #COVID-19.

Place your right hand on your left chest, followed by salam or greeting as an alternative to shaking hands and touching.

This also symbolizes MOH’s work culture; WE ARE READY TO SERVE.

Why does the accent of Malaysians sound British?

Malaysian English is predominantly descended from British English, mainly due to Britain’s colonization of the nation in the 18th century.

What accent do Malaysians use?

Since Malaysia has a multiethnic population, many different versions of English are known as Malaysian English (MalE).

Malaysians frequently speak with a unique regional Malay, Chinese, or Indian English accent.

When traveling to Malaysia, can we get by with only English?

If you’re wondering if English is spoken in Malaysia, it is possible to get by in Malaysia with just English.

However, your options for experiences may be limited to metropolitan areas.

If you venture into rural areas or villages, you may need help to converse with the community.

Why do Malaysians say LAH all the time?

This short three-letter phrase can express acceptance, rejection, frustration, or exclamation, depending on the situation.

For instance, saying, “No LAH, I told you I didn’t do that,” connotes annoyance but saying “Okay LAH” quickly affirms something.

If you’re wondering why Singaporean sometimes sounds like Malaysians?

Estimates of the population range from 700,000 to 1,000,000, including both descendants of early Malaysian immigrants and more recent Malaysian immigrants who choose to work there.

What’s it like for an expatriate to live in Malaysia?

The biggest draws for expatriates migrating to Malaysia are the affordable cost of living and the luxurious lifestyle.

Pro Tips Speak like a local In Malaysia.

Malaysia’s distinctive vernacular and combination of English, Malay, Chinese, and Tamil have created a creole language known as “Manglish.

Upon arrival, many visitors to Malaysia are perplexed at hearing this form of English.

Here are a few of the most common slang terms to help you get started using this inventive and entertaining language.

1. LAH

You can’t go wrong when you add the notorious and iconic Malaysian slang term “LAH” at the end of almost any phrase.

The term has no actual meaning by itself.

Malaysians use it to flavor our phrases and draw attention to our point.

You sound friendlier and more convincing as a result.

If you use it properly, you’ll immediately sound like a Malaysian.

Examples: “Okay, LAH.” / “No LAH.” I’m so hungry, LAH.

2. Jom

Jom (Malay) means ‘let’s’ or ‘let’s go’ and is shared amongst all races and used mainly as an invitation.

Examples: “Hungry? Jom Makan!”
English: Are you hungry? Join me for supper!

3. Yum Cha

Derived from Cantonese, “Yum Cha” literal translation is ‘drink tea.’
To Malaysians, ‘yum cha’ is our way of saying “to hang out.”
Examples: “Want to go yum cha?” / “How about we catch up over a yum cha session?”

4. Boss

Malaysia has a ‘boss culture.’

The phrase is frequently used at a Mamak restaurant where patrons and waiters call each other ‘boss.’

Examples: “Boss! Tarik Satu tea!” Okay, boss!

5. Ang Moh / Guai Lou / Mat Salleh

All of which are used to describe Caucasian people.

Chinese use ‘Ang Moh’ (Hokkien) and ‘Guai Lou’ (Cantonese), whereas the Malays and Indians choose “Mat Salleh.”

Examples: Look! That Ang Moh’ is eating with his hands like an authentic Malaysian!
Or ‘Wei that Mat Salleh handsome LAH!’

6. Walao / Walao-eh

A colloquial word used to describe astonishment or surprise or used to express your irritation with something or someone.

‘OMG’ is the closest English equivalent.

Walao-eh can signify many things depending on how it is pronounced and doesn’t always need to be part of a complete statement.

Examples: “Walao! There’s a buy-one-FREE one at KFC!” / “Walao-eh, why are they so stupid?”

7. Tapao / Bungkus

When you order in an eatery, they ask if you want to eat or ‘tapao’ (Cantonese) or ‘bungkus’ (Malay).

Both words are understood and may be used everywhere in Malaysia.

You can walk into an Indian restaurant and ask the waiter to ‘tapao’ your food.

Examples: “Boss, tapao nasi lemak satu!”

8. Aunty / Uncle

Asians revere their elders strongly, regardless of their relationship with us.

Like everyone is ‘Boss,’ any elder is ‘aunty’ or ‘uncle.’

Regardless of whether they are family, friends, or even hawkers.

Examples: “Oh hi, aunty, long time no see, how is uncle?”

Take note of the quirky languages in Malaysia and memorize a few slang words.

Relax; you’ll fit in like a local LAH when you’re here next.


Malaysians can speak many languages in Malaysia because they’re a multicultural and multi-religious society with a high level of tolerance and acceptance.

If you want to visit SEA, consider visiting Malaysia, where you can learn to speak other languages with new friends of different ethnicities and faiths.


Source: Languages of Malaysia

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