Native toMalaysia
RegionMalay Peninsula
Ethnicity6,300 (2008)[1]
Native speakers
4,100 (2009)[1]
Latin script
Language codes
ISO 639-3sza

Semelai is an Austroasiatic language spoken in the Malay Peninsula. It belongs to the Southern branch of the Aslian language subgrouping. The Semelai reside predominantly around the Bera, Serting and associated river systems in the states of Pahang, Negeri Sembilan and Johor.


Semelai has 32 consonants and 20 vowels.[2]

Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive voiceless p t c k ʔ
voiced b d ɟ ɡ
Fricative s ~ ɕ h
Nasal voiceless ŋ̊
voiced m n ɲ ŋ
preglottal ʔm ʔn ʔɲ
Approximant plain l j w
preglottal ʔl ʔj
Trill plain r
preglottal ʔr
This article should specify the language of its non-English content, using ((lang)), ((transliteration)) for transliterated languages, and ((IPA)) for phonetic transcriptions, with an appropriate ISO 639 code. Wikipedia's multilingual support templates may also be used. See why. (December 2021)

Vowels are also distinguished with nasal counterparts:

Front Central Back
Close i ĩ ʉ ʉ̃ u ũ
Close-mid e ə ə̃ o õ
Open-mid ɛ ɛ̃ ɔ ɔ̃
Open a ã ɒ ɒ̃


  1. ^ a b Semelai at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Kruspe (2004)


  • Hoe, Ban Seng (2001). Baer, Adela S.; Gianno, Rosemary (eds.). Semelai Communities at Tasek Bera: A Study of the Structure of an Orang Asli Society. Subang Jaya, Malaysia: Centre for Orang Asli Concerns. ISBN 983-40042-3-0.
  • Kruspe, Nicole (2004a). A Grammar of Semelai. Cambridge Grammatical Descriptions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-81497-9.
  • Kruspe, Nicole (2004b). "Adjectives in Semelai". In Dixon, R. M. W.; A. Y. Aikhenvald (eds.). Adjective Classes: a cross-linguistic typology. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp. 283–305.