Learn Malaysian Language Basics and Common Phrases
Do visitors often ask what the Malaysian language basics are? When a foreigner listens to Malaysians speak English, they are often perplexed.
What sounds like English is not something most foreigners can understand.
The Malaysian Language Basics
The national language is the Malay language (Bahasa Melayu). Schools are taught in English, Mandarin, and Tamil.
Other commonly spoken languages include Malay, English, Mandarin (various dialects), Tamil, and other indigenous languages, approximately 137 languages.
Malaysians are multilingual. Most of the locals easily switch between the three main languages. We sometimes refer to Malaysian English as “Manglish.”
Malay is the easiest to learn, vs. the Hokkien dialects have 5 to 8 phonemic tones.
Let’s jump right in to learn some Malaysian language basics, so you can get around the country safely and communicate well.
Greetings and essentials in Malay
Let’s start with Numbers
- Satu (saa-too)
- Dua (doo-aa)
- Tiga (tee-gaa)
- Empat (erm-paat)
- Lima (lee-mah)
- Enam (er-nam)
- Tujuh (too-jooh)
- Lapan (laa-pan)
- Sembilan (sem-bee-lan)
- Sepuluh (se-poo-looh)
Simple Greetings in Malay.
Thank you – Terima kasih (te-ree-mah ka-seh)
Yes / No – Ya (yah) / Tidak (tee-dak)
Goodbye – Selamat Jalan (s’la-mat zha-lan)
You’re welcome – Sama-sama (saa-ma saa-ma) /
I don’t understand – Saya Tak Faham (saa-yah tak faa-haam)
Where is the bathroom? – Di mana tandas (dee ma-na tan-das)
Turn right / Turn left – Belok kanan / Belok kiri (beh-lock kaa-naan / beh-lock kee-ree)
Go straight – Jalan terus (zha-lan te-roos)
Slow down – Perlahan sikit (per-laa-haan see-keet)
How to order food in Malay?
Less sweet – Kurang manis (koo-raang maa-nees)
No sugar – Tanpa gula (tan-pa goo-lah)
Less ice -Kurang ais (koo-raang aa-is)
No milk – Tanpa susu (tan-pa soo-soo)
Extra spicy / Less spicy – Tambah pedas / Kurang pedas (tam-bah pe-das / koo-raang pe-das)
Tasty – Sedap (se-daap)
Water – Air (ah-yer)
Hot – Panas (paa-nas)
How to bargain in Malay?
How much? – Berapa (be-raa-paa)
Expensive – Mahal (maa-hal)
Simple Conversation in Malay.
Have you eaten? – Dah makan (daa-h maa-kan)
Beautiful – Cantik (chan-tek)
Let’s go – Jom (zhom)
Please – Tolong (toh-long)
Can – Boleh (bow-leh)
When a Malaysian asks if you can speak in Malay, you can answer “BOLEH” to mean, no problem.