Languages of Malaysia
The distribution of language families of Malaysia shown by colours:
     North Bornean and Melanau-Kajang
     Land Dayak
     Areas with multiple languages
OfficialStandard Malay
NationalStandard Malay
MainMalay, Chinese, Tamil, English
Indigenous(West Malaysia: Baba Malay, Batek, Chitty Malay, Cheq Wong, Duano’, Jah Hut, Jahai, Jakun, Jedek, Kedah Malay, Kelantan-Pattani Malay, Kenaboi, Kensiu, Kintaq, Kristang, Lanoh, Mah Meri, Minriq, Mintil, Mos, Negeri Sembilan Malay, Orang Kanaq, Orang Seletar, Pahang Malay, Perak Malay, Ple-Temer, Rawa Malay, Reman Malay, Sabüm, Semai, Semaq Beri, Semelai, Semnam, Temiar, Temoq, Temuan, Terengganu Malay, Tioman Malay, Wila')
(East Malaysia: Abai, Bahau, Bajaw, 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, Sekapan, Selungai Murut, Sembakung, Seru, Serudung, Sian, Suluk, Sungai, Tagol, Timugon, Tombonuwo, Tring, Tringgus, Tutoh, Ukit, Uma’ Lasan)
MinorityArabic, Bengali, Gujarati, Isan, Karen, Kurdish, Malayalam, Northern Thai, Persian, Punjabi, Southern Thai, Telugu, Thai
ForeignEnglish, Filipino, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese
SignedMalaysian Sign Language
Keyboard layout

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. The main ethnic groups within Malaysia are the Malay people, Han Chinese people and Tamil people, 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 Kadazan languages. English is widely understood and spoken within the urban areas of the country; the English language is a compulsory subject in primary and secondary education. It is also the main medium of instruction within most private colleges and private 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. Furthermore, the law of Malaysia is commonly taught and read in English,[1] as the unwritten laws of Malaysia continues to be partially derived from pre-1957 English common law, which is a legacy of past British colonisation of the constituents forming Malaysia. In addition, authoritative versions of constitutional law and statutory law (written laws of Malaysia) are continuously available in both Malay and English.[1]

Malaysia contains speakers of 137 living languages,[2] 41 of which are found in Peninsular Malaysia.[3] 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.[4] There are a number of Chinese languages native to the ethnic Han Chinese who originated from Southern China, which include Yue, Min and Hakka Chinese.


Main article: Malaysian Malay

The official language of Malaysia is the "Malay language"[5] (Bahasa Melayu) which is sometimes interchangable with "Malaysian language" (Bahasa Malaysia).[6] The standard language is promoted as a unifying symbol for the nation across all ethnicities, linked to the concept of Bangsa Malaysia (lit. 'Malaysian Nation'). The status as a national language is codified in Article 152 of the constitution,[7] further strengthened by the passage of the National Language Act 1963/67. This standard Malay is often a second language following use of related Malayic languages spoken within Malaysia (excluding the Ibanic) identified by local scholars as "dialects" (loghat),[8] 10 of which are used throughout Malaysia.[4] A variant of Malay that is spoken in Brunei is also commonly spoken in East Malaysia.[citation needed] After the 13 May Incident, English as the main kindergarten to university-level national education medium was gradually replaced with Malay since the 1970s.[6][9] The Education Act of 1996 reiterates that Malay is to be "the main medium of instruction in all educational institutions in the National Education System", with certain exceptions.[citation needed]

Other indigenous languages

Citizens of Minangkabau, Bugis or Javanese origins, who can be classified as "Malay" under constitutional definitions, may speak their respective ancestral tongues alongside Malay. 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 the Dusun and Kadazan languages are spoken by the natives in Sabah.[10] Some of these languages remain strong, being used in education and daily life.[4] Sabah has ten other sub-ethnic languages: Bajau, Bruneian, Murut, Lundayeh/Lun Bawang, Rungus, Bisaya, Iranun, Sama, Suluk and Sungai. There are over 30 native ethnic groups, each of which has its own dialect. These languages are in danger of dying out unlike the major ones such as Kadazan-Dusun, which have developed educational syllabuses. Iban also has developed an educational syllabus.[11] Languages on the peninsula can be divided into three major groups: Negrito, Senoi, and Malayic, further divided into 18 subgroups.[4] The Semai language is used in education.[11] Thai is also spoken in northern parts of the peninsula, especially in northern Langkawi and mainland Kedah, Perlis, northern Perak, northern Terengganu, and northern Kelantan.[12]


Main article: Malaysian 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. English was used in the Parliament briefly upon independence (then as Federation of Malaya), prior to a gradual and complete transition to the Malay language, and continued to be used today for specific terminologies with permission. English, however, remains an official language in the State Legislative Assemblies and Courts of Sabah and Sarawak.[13][14][15] Malaysian English differs little from standard British English.[7]

Malaysian English also sees wide usage in business, along with Manglish, which is a colloquial form of English with heavy Malay, Chinese, and Tamil influences. Many Malaysians (particularly those who live in urban areas) are conversant in English, although some are only fluent in the Manglish form. The Malaysian government officially discourages the use of Manglish.[16] Many businesses in Malaysia conduct their transactions in English, and it is sometimes used in official correspondence.

The federal constitution provides that English would continue to serve as an official language for at least 10 years after Merdeka until the parliament provides otherwise.[17] The passage of the National Language Act re-iterated the primacy of Malay as an official language for most official purposes, however the act provides for the use of English in certain official contexts. Among these, section 5 provides that English may be used in the parliament and state assemblies with the presiding officer's permission. Article 152(3) of the constitution and sections 6–7 of the National Language Act provide that all federal and state laws must be enacted in Malay and English.

The Malaysia Agreement,[18] provided for the continued use of English in Sabah and Sarawak for any official purpose.[19] Under article 161(3) of the constitution, federal legislation affecting the use of English in Sabah and Sarawak would not become law in these states unless approved by their respective legislative assemblies. Sarawak has not adopted the National Language Act; meanwhile Sabah has amended its constitution to provide for Malay as "the official language of the state cabinet and assembly".[20]

English was the predominant language in government until 1969.[9] There is significant tension regarding the status and usage of English in the country, as the language is seen both as a historical colonial imposition and as a crucial skill for academic achievement and global business.[7] English served as the medium of instruction for Maths and Sciences in all public schools per the PPSMI policy, but reverted to Bahasa Malaysia in national schools and mother-tongue languages in 2012.[21] The Parent Action Group for Education and former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has called for science and maths to be taught in English again.[4][22][23]

The English language is an important aspect of the legal system in the country. The law of Malaysia is commonly taught and read in English,[1] as the unwritten laws of Malaysia continues to be partially derived from pre-1957 English common law, which is a legacy of past British colonisation of the constituents forming Malaysia. In addition, authoritative versions of constitutional law and statutory law (written laws of Malaysia) are continuously available in both Malay and English.[1]

Chinese language and regiolects

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.[4]

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, Teochew, and Hokchew.[12] Hokkien is mostly spoken in Penang, Kedah, Perlis, Klang, Johor, Northern Perak, Kelantan, Terengganu, and Malacca, whereas Cantonese is mostly spoken in Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur, Seremban and Kuantan. In Sarawak, most ethnic Chinese speak Hokkien, Hokchew, or Hakka. Hakka predominates in Sabah except in the city of Sandakan where Cantonese is more frequently 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 Chinese regiolect and/or the dominant Chinese regiolect in their area. However, most Chinese regiolects are losing ground to Mandarin, due to its prestige and use as the language of instruction in Chinese vernacular schools. Some parents speak exclusively in Mandarin with their children. Some of the less-spoken regiolects, such as Hainanese, are facing extinction.


Tamil and its Malaysian dialect are used predominantly by Tamils, who form a majority of Malaysian Indians.[24] It is especially used in Peninsular Malaysia. The Education Act of 1996 regulates the use of Tamil as medium of instruction at the primary level in "national-type schools", and also entitles Tamil children to obtain Tamil classes in national primary schools and national secondary schools (which use Malay as medium of instruction), provided "it is reasonable and practicable so to do and if the parents of at least fifteen pupils in the school so request".[25][26]

Tamil-speaking immigrants to Malaysia came from two groups, Sri Lankan Tamils who spoke Sri Lankan Tamil dialects such as the Jaffna Tamil dialect, and Indian Tamils who spoke dialect from Tamil Nadu. These dialects reflected class differences, with the Sri Lankan Tamils being more educated and overseeing the Indian Tamils, who primarily served as labourers on rubber estates. These two communities with their very different dialects remained mostly separate in Malaysia, forming two separate Tamil communities. Tamil is becoming less common among the more highly educated Tamil population, being predominantly replaced by English, and in a minority by Malay. Tamil-medium schools are considered less advantageous than English-medium schools, bringing little prospect of socioeconomic advancement. While the Malaysian government provides limited support for elementary Tamil schooling, secondary school is only taught in Malay, and there are no Tamil private schools. Usage of Tamil remains common among the less educated Tamil community, who often continue to live in their own communities on or near plantations, or in urban squatter settlements.[27]

One small group of former Tamil speakers, the Chitty, almost entirely speak Malay.[27]

Other Indian languages

The Malayalees in Malaysia are known to be the second largest Indian ethnicity, after the Tamils.[28] Malayalees can be found in the West Coast states, mostly in Penang, Perak, Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, Malacca and Johore. They can be classified into three major groups: labourers, traders and government servants and estate clerks. Malayalee labourers were predominantly Hindus from Palakkad and Cannannore regions in Malabar. These communities spoke South Malabar dialect and Kannur dialect. Some of the labourers who were not associated with the Kangani system were placed in estates that had mix ethnicities, mostly Tamils. Thus, these labourers mix around with the Tamils and eventually used Tamil vocabularies in their language. Some have even received formal Tamil education, which eventually lead them to not speaking Malayalam as their first language but Tamil. The Malayalam-speaking traders who came to Malaya were mostly from the Muslim communities in Malabar. They spoke the Moplah dialect, which has influence of Arabic and Persian language. This particular dialect is still used among today's Malabari Muslims. Besides, Malayalees who were employed as estate clerks and semi-professional positions in the Malayan Civil Service consists of Hindus and Christians from Cochin and Travancore, as they were educated. These people spoke Malayalam dialects which are similar to the standard Malayalam spoken today.[citation needed] Many youngsters of the Malayalee community are unable to speak their mother tongue fluently because of the usage of English among the educated urban Malayalees and the domination of Tamil, as a lingua franca of the Malaysian Indians.[29] Today, there are roughly more than 200,000 Malayalam speakers in Malaysia.

Other South Asian languages such as Bengali, Hindi, Punjabi, Sinhala and Telugu are also spoken.


A small number of Malaysians have Eurasian ancestry and speak creole languages, such as the Portuguese-based Malaccan Creoles.[30] A Spanish-based creole, Zamboangueño Chavacano, has spread into Sabah from the southern Philippines.[31]

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

A sign at 7-Eleven stores showing common languages in Malaysia: English, Malay, Chinese, and Tamil

Native languages in Peninsular Malaysia

Language ISO 639-3 code Speakers % of total population Region Family
Baba Malay mbf 12,000 0.0374 Melaka Malay creole
Batek btq 1,000 0.0031 Pahang, Kelantan, Terengganu Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Chitty Malay ccm 300 0.0009 Melaka Malay creole
Cheq Wong cwg 460 0.0014 Pahang Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Duano' dup 4,000 0.0125 Johor Malayic (Austronesian)
Jah Hut jah 4,191 0.0131 Pahang Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Jahai jhi 1,000 0.0031 Kelantan, Perak, Pahang Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Jakun jak 28,000 0.0874 Pahang, Johor Malayic (Austronesian)
Jedek 280 0.0009 Kelantan Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Kedahan Malay meo 2,600,000 8.1124 Kedah, Penang, Perlis, Perak Malayic (Austronesian)
Kelantanese Malay mfa 1,500,000 4.6802 Kelantan, Terengganu Malayic (Austronesian)
Kenaboi xbn extinct 0.0000 Negeri Sembilan Unclassified
Kensiu kns 259 0.0008 Kedah Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Kintaq knq 110 0.0003 Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Kristang mcm 2,200 0.0069 Melaka Portuguese creole
Lanoh lnh 240 0.0007 Perak Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Malay (Standard Malay) msa, zlm, zsm 20,000,000 62.4031 nationwide Malayic (Austronesian)
Mah Meri mhe 3,000 0.0094 Selangor Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Manglish 0.0000 mostly in urban centres like Kuala Lumpur English creole
Minriq mnq 270 0.0008 Kelantan Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Mintil mzt 180 0.0006 Pahang Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Negeri Sembilan Malay zmi 500,000 1.5601 Negeri Sembilan, Melaka Malayic (Austronesian)
Orang Kanaq orn 80 0.0002 Johor Malayic (Austronesian)
Orang Seletar ors 1,500 0.0047 Johor Malayic (Austronesian)
Pahang Malay 0.0000 Pahang Malayic (Austronesian)
Perak Malay 1,400,000 4.3682 Perak Malayic (Austronesian)
Rawa Malay 0.0000 Perak Malayic (Austronesian)
Reman Malay 0.0000 Perak Malayic (Austronesian)
Sabüm sbo extinct 0.0000 Perak Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Semai sea 44,000 0.1373 Pahang, Perak Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Semaq Beri szc 2,000 0.0062 Pahang, Terengganu Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Semelai sza 4,100 0.0128 Pahang, Johor Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Semnam ssm 670 0.0021 Perak Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Southern Thai sou 70,000 0.2184 Kedah, Kelantan Tai (Tai-Kadai)
Temiar tea 15,000 0.0468 Pahang Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Ten'edn/Mos tnz 370 0.0012 Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Temoq tmo 0.0000 Pahang Aslian (Austroasiatic)
Temuan tmw 23,300 0.0727 Selangor, Pahang, Negeri Sembilan, Melaka Malayic (Austronesian)
Terengganu Malay 1,100,000 3.4322 Terengganu, Pahang, Johor Malayic (Austronesian)
Tioman Malay 3,000 0.0000 Pahang, Johor Malayic (Austronesian)
Wila' extinct 0.0000 Penang Aslian (Austroasiatic)

Native languages in Malaysian Borneo

Language ISO 639-3 code Speakers % of total population Region Family
Abai 0.0000 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Bahau bhv 19,000 0.0593 Sarawak Kayan-Murik (Austronesian)
Bajaw bdr 436,672 1.3625 Sabah, Labuan, Sarawak Sama-Bajaw (Austronesian)
Belait beg 0.0000 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Berawan zbc, zbe, zbw 3,600 0.0112 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Biatah bth 72,000 0.2247 Sarawak Land Dayak (Austronesian)
Bintulu bny 4,200 0.0131 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Bonggi bdg 1,400 0.0044 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Bookan bnb 1,700 0.0053 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Brunei Malay kxd 0.0000 Sabah, Sarawak, Labuan Malayic (Austronesian)
Brunei Bisaya bsb 60,000 0.1872 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Bukar Sadong sdo 49,000 0.1529 Sarawak Land Dayak (Austronesian)
Bukitan bkn 860 0.0027 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Coastal Kadazan kzj 60,000 0.1872 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Cocos Malay coa 5,000 0.0156 Sabah Malay creole
Central Dusun dtp 140,000 0.4368 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Daro-Matu dro 7,600 0.0237 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Dumpas dmv 1,100 0.0034 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Dusun kzt, tdu, ktr 36,000 0.1123 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Eastern Kadazan dtb 20,600 0.0643 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Gana' gnq 1,000 0.0031 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Iban iba 790,000 2.4649 Sarawak Malayic (Austronesian)
Ida'an dbj 10,000 0.0312 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Iranun ilm 22,000 0.0000 Sabah Philippine (Austronesian)
Jagoi sne 29,000 0.0905 Sarawak Land Dayak (Austronesian)
Jangkang djo 37,000 0.1154 Sarawak Land Dayak (Austronesian)
Kajaman kag 500 0.0016 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Kalabakan kve 2,200 0.0069 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Kanowit kxn 200 0.0006 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Kayan (Baram) kys 13,400 0.0418 Sarawak Kayan-Murik (Austronesian)
Kelabit kzi 5,963 0.0186 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Kendayan knx 0.0000 Sarawak Malayic (Austronesian)
Keningau Murut kxi 7,000 0.0218 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Kinabatangan dmg, ruu, low 10,000 0.0312 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)-
Kimaragang kqr 0.0000 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Kiput kyi 2,500 0.0078 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Klias River Kadazan kqt 1,000 0.0031 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Kota Marudu Talantang grm 1,800 0.0056 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Kuijau dkr 7,910 0.0247 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Lahanan lhn 350 0.0011 Sarawak Melanau-Kajang (Austronesian)
Lelak llk extinct 0.0000 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Lengilu lgi 3 0.0000 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Lotud dtr 20,000 0.0624 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Lun Bawang lnd 16,000 0.0499 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Lundayeh xkl 9,125 0.0285 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Mainstream Kenyah xkl 50,000 0.1560 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Maranao mrw 0.0000 Sabah Philippine (Austronesian)
Melanau mel, sdx 110,000 0.3432 Sarawak Melanau-Kajang (Austronesian)
Minokok mqq 2,000 0.0062 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Molbog pwm 6,700 0.0209 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Murik Kayan mxr 1,120 0.0035 Sarawak Kayan-Murik (Austronesian)
Narom nrm 2,420 0.0076 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Nonukan Tidong tid 20,000 0.0624 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Okolod kqv 5,000 0.0156 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Paluan plz 5,500 0.0172 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Papar dpp 500 0.0016 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Penan pez, pne 13,000 0.0406 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Punan Batu pnm 30 0.0001 Sarawak Melanau-Kajang (Austronesian)
Remun lkj 3,500 0.0109 Sarawak Malayic (Austronesian)
Rungus drg 60,000 0.1872 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Sa'ban snv 2,000 0.0062 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Sabah Bisaya bsy 21,000 0.0655 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Sabah Malay msi 0.0000 Sabah Malay creole
Sama ssb, sml, sse 80,000 0.0000 Sabah Sama-Bajaw (Austronesian)
Sarawak Malay 600,000 1.8721 Sarawak Malayic (Austronesian)
Sebop sib 1,730 0.0054 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Sekapan skp 750 0.0023 Sarawak Melanau-Kajang (Austronesian)
Selungai Murut slg 1,200 0.0037 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Sembakung sbr 2,000 0.0062 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Seru szd extinct 0.0000 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Serudung srk 350 0.0011 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Sian spg 50 0.0002 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Sungai abf 500 0.0016 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Sugut Dusun kzs 240,000 0.7488 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Tatana' txx 21,000 0.0655 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Tausug tsg 209,000 0.6521 Sabah Philippine (Austronesian)
Tagol mvv 50,000 0.1560 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Timugon tih 9,000 0.0281 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Tombonuwo txa 13,000 0.0406 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Tring tgq 550 0.0017 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Tringgus trx 850 0.0027 Sabah North Bornean (Austronesian)
Tutoh ttw 600 0.0019 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Ukit umi 120 0.0004 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)
Uma' Lasan xky 6,000 0.0187 Sarawak North Bornean (Austronesian)

Other languages recognised as Native

Estimated number of speakers in Malaysia as of 2019:[32][better source needed]

Language Code Speakers Family
Acehnese ace 84,000 Chamic (Austronesian)
Banjarese bjn 26,000 Malayic (Austronesian)
Buginese bug 143,000 South Sulawesi (Austronesian)
Cham cja 13,000 Chamic (Austronesian)
Javanese jav 661,000 Javanese (Austronesian)
Kerinci kvr Malayic (Austronesian)
Mandailing btm 31,000 Northwest Sumatra–Barrier Islands (Austronesian)
Minangkabau min 931,000 Malayic (Austronesian)

Malaysian Chinese languages

The estimated numbers of speakers of Chinese languages in Malaysia as of 2019 are as follows:[32][better source needed]

Language ISO 639-3 code Speakers Family
Cantonese yue 1,443,000 Sino-Tibetan
Foochow 260,000 Sino-Tibetan
Hakka hak 1,787,000 Sino-Tibetan
Hainanese nan 405,000 Sino-Tibetan
Hokkien nan 1,966,000 Sino-Tibetan
Mandarin cmn 1,019,000 Sino-Tibetan
Min Bei mnp 397,000 Sino-Tibetan
Teochew nan 1,038,000 Sino-Tibetan

Malaysian Indian languages

Estimated number of speakers in Malaysia as of 2019:[32][better source needed]

Language Code Speakers Family
Gujarati guj 29,000 Indo-European
Hindi hin 59,000 Indo-European
Bengali Ben 81,000 Indo-European
Malayalam mal 344,000 Dravidian
Punjabi pan 69,000 Indo-European
Tamil tam 1,856,000 Dravidian
Telugu tel 117,000 Dravidian
Urdu urd 15,000 Indo-European

Foreign languages

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "In Personam: Malay Language Usage in the Malaysian Courts". Retrieved 12 June 2022.
  2. ^ "Languages of Malaysia". Ethnologue. Archived from the original on 18 October 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  3. ^ "Languages of Malaysia (Peninsular)". Ethnologue. Archived from the original on 10 May 2011. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Kamila Ghazali (2010). "National Identity and Minority Languages". UN Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  5. ^ Constitution of Malaysia:Article 152
  6. ^ a b Adelaar, K. Alexander; Himmelmann, Nikolaus, eds. (2005). The Austronesian Languages of Asia and Madagascar. p. 71. ISBN 0700712860.
  7. ^ a b c Kärchner-Ober, Renate (2013). "Linguistic Quandary in Multilingual Malaysia: Socio-Political Issues, Language Policy, Educational Changes". In Singleton, David; Fishman, Joshua A; Aronin, Larissa; Ó Laoire, Muiris (eds.). Current Multilingualism: A New Linguistic Dispensation. Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. pp. 299–310. ISBN 978-1-61451-389-6.
  8. ^ Collins, James T. (1989). "Malay Dialect Research in Malaysia: The Issue of Perspective". Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde. 145 (2/3): 235–264.
  9. ^ a b Barbara Watson Andaya; Leonard Y. Andaya (1984). A History of Malaysia. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-312-38121-9.[further explanation needed]
  10. ^ Adelaar, Alexander; Himmelmann, Nikolaus P., eds. (2005). The Austronesian Languages of Asia and Madagascar. London: Routledge. pp. 397–. ISBN 0-7007-1286-0.
  11. ^ a b Luke Rintod (30 November 2010). "Speak Up, Native Language Champions urged". Free Malaysia Today. Retrieved 4 September 2013.
  12. ^ a b "Malaysia" (listed as "Foochow" there). Archived from the original on 8 November 2021. Retrieved 26 October 2010.
  13. ^ "My Constitution: Sabah, Sarawak and special interests". Malaysian Bar. 2 February 2011. Retrieved 15 February 2022. English has been the official language of the State Legislative Assemblies and Courts in Sabah and Sarawak since Malaysia Day, Sept 16, 1963. Any change of the official language to Bahasa Melayu can only become effective when the State Legislative Assembly of Sabah or Sarawak agrees to adopt federal laws that make Bahasa Melayu the official language.
  14. ^ "Article 32 of the National Language Act Has No Legal Effect in Sarawak". Dayak Daily. 5 September 2018. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  15. ^ "S'wak Govt Never Agreed to Change Present Policy on English Usage". Borneo Post. 5 September 2018. Retrieved 14 August 2019.
  16. ^ Zimmer, Benjamin (5 October 2006). "Malaysia Cracks Down on "Salad Language"". Language Log. Retrieved 14 September 2010.
  17. ^ Constitution, article 152(2)
  18. ^ which provided for North Borneo, Sarawak, and Singapore joining the Federation of Malaya
  19. ^ Malaysia Agreement, section 61(2)
  20. ^ Sabah Constitution, article 11a
  21. ^ "Math and Science Back to Bahasa, Mother Tongues". The Star Online. 8 July 2009. Archived from the original on 2 March 2011. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
  22. ^ Mohd Farhan Darwis (12 November 2013). "Dr Mahathir Calls for Science and Maths to Be Taught in English, Again". The Malaysian Insider. Archived from the original on 18 October 2014. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  23. ^ "PAGE Hands in Second Memorandum". The Star Online. 9 July 2010. Archived from the original on 18 October 2014. Retrieved 8 September 2010. Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced last year that the policy of Teaching of Mathematics and Science in English (known by its Malay acronym, PPSMI) would be scrapped from 2012.
  24. ^ West, Barbara A. (2009). Encyclopedia of the Peoples of Asia and Oceania. New York, New York: Facts on File. ISBN 978-0-8160-7109-8.
  25. ^ Act 550 – Education Act 1996 (PDF) – via UNESCO.
  26. ^ Kamila Ghazali (2010). "National Identity and Minority Languages". UN Chronicle. Retrieved 28 January 2021.
  27. ^ a b Schiffman, Harold F. (1995). "Language Shift in the Tamil Communities of Malaysia and Singapore: The Paradox of Egalitarian Language Policy". Language Loss and Public Policy. 14 (1–2).
  28. ^ "Malayali, Malayalam in Malaysia". Joshua Project.
  29. ^ Sercombe, Peter; Tupas, Ruanni, eds. (2014). Language, Education and Nation-building: Assimilation and Shift in Southeast Asia. Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 139. ISBN 978-1-137-45553-6.
  30. ^ Hancock, Ian F. (1975). "Malacca Creole Portuguese: Asian, African or European?". Anthropological Linguistics. 17 (5): 211–236. JSTOR 30027570.
  31. ^ Michaelis, Susanne, ed. (2008). Roots of Creole Structures: Weighing the Contribution of Substrates and Superstrates. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing. ISBN 978-90-272-5255-5.
  32. ^ a b c "Malaysia". Joshua Project.

Further reading