Terengganu Malay
Base Tranung
Bahasa Melayu Terengganu
بهاس ترڠݢانو
Native toMalaysia
RegionTerengganu, Mersing and Tanjung Sedili (Johor), Kuantan (Pahang)
Native speakers
1.1 million (2010)[citation needed]
DialectsCoastal Terengganu
Inland Terengganu
Latin script, Arabic Script (Jawi)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
zlm-coa (coastal)
 zlm-inl (inland)
Regions with Coastal Terengganu majority (Dark Blue)
Regions with Inland Terengganu majority (Blue)
Regions with Coastal Terengganu minority (Light Blue)

Terengganu Malay (Malay: Bahasa Melayu Terengganu; Terengganu Malay: Bahse Tranung/Ganu) is a Malayic language spoken in the Malaysian state of Terengganu all the way southward to coastal Pahang and northeast Johor. It is the native language of Terengganu Malays and highly localised Chinese Peranakan (locally known as "Mek and Awang") community as well as a second language among the smaller Indian minority.[1] The language has developed a distinct phonetic, syntactic and lexical distinctions which makes it mutually unintelligible for speakers from outside the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia especially those who speak Standard Malay/Malaysian.[2] Terengganu Malay still shares close linguistic ties with neighbouring Kelantan-Pattani and Pahang of which it forms under the umbrella term of "East Coast Peninsular Malayic languages".[3] These similarities have often confused many people outside the region, who usually interchange Terengganu Malay with Kelantan Malay, even though there are major phonological and vocabulary differences between the two.

Terengganu Malay also coexists with two distinct but closely related Malayic varieties. In the districts of Besut and northern part of Setiu, the majority of the population speak Kelantan-Pattani Malay but in recent years many people from southern Terengganu started to migrate into these two districts and both variants now coexist with each other.[4] In the inland mukim of Pasir Raja, Dungun, several villages still speak a variant of Ulu Tembeling dialect of Pahang Malay, locally known as Pasir Raja dialect.[5]

Terengganu Malay is considered to be the most recognisable identity of the state. This can be seen in many local television dramas, movies, songs, poems and religious sermons[6] which emphasize the usage of Terengganu Malay.[7] Radio stations in Terengganu whether public (Terengganu FM) or privately owned (Hot FM and Molek FM) mainly use Terengganu Malay in its broadcast alongside standard Malaysian. Recent years show an increase of awareness of the uniqueness of Terengganu Malay, such as the increasing use of Terengganu Malay in shop signs and recently the publication of a Hulu Terengganu Malay dictionary.[8]


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The people of Terengganu usually referred[clarification needed] to their language as base/bahse Tranung/Tghanung (/bahsɘ tɣanuŋ/) which means 'the language of Terengganu' or cakak Tranung (/tʃakaʔ tɣanuŋ/) which means 'speaking Terengganuan'. In Standard Malay it is known as bahasa Terengganu or bahasa Melayu Terengganu (dialek/loghat Terengganu which means 'Terengganu dialect' is also widely used). The people from outside Terengganu often mistakenly believe that Terengganuans usually call themselves and their language Ganu; the word Ganu is actually how the Kelantanese and the people of Besut in northern Terengganu pronounce Terengganu and is rarely used by southern Terengganuans (Southern Setiu to Kemaman) themselves. Besides Tranung and Ganu, the people of Terengganu sometimes use Ganung, Teganu and Teganung as well.


There are several theories on the origin of the name Terengganu. One theory attributes the name's origin to terang ganu, Malay for 'bright rainbow'. Another story, said to have been originally narrated by the ninth Sultan of Terengganu, Baginda Omar, tells of a party of hunters from Pahang roving and hunting in the area of what is now southern Terengganu. One of the hunters spotted a big animal fang lying on the ground. A fellow party member asked to which animal did the fang belong. The hunter, not knowing which animal, simply answered taring anu (Malay for 'fang of something'). The party later returned to Pahang with a rich hoard of game, fur and sandalwood, which impressed their neighbours. They asked the hunters where they sourced their riches from, to which they replied, "from the land of taring anu," which later evolved into Terengganu.[9]


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Terengganu Malay is natively spoken in most parts of Terengganu other than Besut and the northern part of Setiu. Besides Terengganu, it is also spoken in coastal Pahang, from Cherating near the border with Kemaman district to as far south as Mersing district in the state of Johor.[6] A variety spoken in the village of Tanjung Sedili in the district of Kota Tinggi is said to be a mixture of Terengganuan, Johorean and several other Malay varieties, reflecting the historical demographics of the area, which once received Malay migrants from Terengganu.


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Terengganu Malay has two major dialects: Coastal (zlm-coa) and Inland (zlm-inl) and each of these two dialects has several regional differences depending on districts or villages. The dialect spoken in Kuala Terengganu district is the de facto standard dialect of Terengganu Malay.[2] The major differences between Coastal (known as Pata) and Inland (known as Ulu) dialects is the pronunciation of the letter "e" of which Coastal Terengganu speakers tend to pronounce it as a schwa while Inland Terengganu speakers pronounce it with strong "e" (as in red).

People in the northernmost regions of Terengganu, specifically in the district of Besut and several parts of Setiu did not speak Terengganuan but instead uses a variant of Kelantan-Pattani Malay which is closely related but distinct from Terengganuan and is not traditionally classified as a variety of Terengganuan.[10][11] The dialects spoken in Dungun, Marang and Kemaman as well as outside of Terengganu such as in Pahang (Kuantan, Pekan and Rompin) and Johor (Mersing) did not have significant differences than those in Kuala Terengganu and is classified as part of the Coastal dialect. The residents of Tanjung Sedili which is a small coastal village in Kota Tinggi, Johor spoke a dialect that is a mixture of Johorean and Terengganuan as the residents there are mostly of Terengganu Malay ancestry.

In Pasir Raja which is a mukim located in the interior parts of Dungun, majority of the Malays there spoke a variant of Pahang Malay specifically the Ulu Tembeling dialect instead of Terengganuan. It is because majority of the people in those areas are descendants of Pahang migrants that migrated into Dungun more than a hundred years ago. Today both varieties (Pahang Malay and Terengganu Malay) coexists in Pasir Raja and the residents can fluently speak both of those varieties.

Comparison between Coastal and Inland dialects

Inland Terengganu Coastal Terengganu


Ughaong/Ughang Oghang Oghe People
Kubo Kuba Kuba Buffalo
Balaik Balék Kelik Leave
Tubaik Tubék Tubék Out
Dimi Déme Démo You
Mume Mung Mu You
Bayak Kabo Oyak Tell
Ayo Lebong Nawok Lie


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Ustaz Azhar Idrus, a popular religious preacher in Terengganu is often known for his use of Terengganuan during his sermons

Although essentially a spoken language with no standard orthography, Terengganu Malay is widely used in folk songs, poems, and also in mainstream and local media (such as local radio stations, dramas and movies). Ibrahim Taib, a famous Terengganu poet was known for his usage of Inland Terengganu dialect in his poems such as "Mok, Aku Nok Tubaik" ('Mom, I want to get out') and "Jadilah Awang" ('Enough Awang').


Terengganu has a rich history of folk songs sung mostly in Terengganu Malay, among those are Anok Udang, Anok Burung Baniong, Ulek Mayang and Watimang Landok.

Besides traditional folk songs, Terengganu Malay has also made way into modern contemporary songs especially singers or bands who were born and raised in Terengganu. Among the most well known was the song "Blues Tranung/Ganu Kite" by a famous Malaysian band Iklim. It was a hit song not just in Terengganu but also across Malaysia in the 90s and 2000s.[12] "Dondang Dendang", a 1999 song composed by Suhaimi Mohd Zain and recorded by traditional singers Noraniza Idris and Siti Nurhaliza, contains an old Terengganuan Malay poem in the bridge based on the traditional Terengganu dance called Rodat. Another band called Spring also recorded a song sung in Terengganuan, called "Hati Mahu Baik".


Terengganu Malay has a distinct phonology and grammar compared to Standard Malay. The grammatical order and pronunciation is similar but also distinct to those of the neighbouring Pahang and Kelantanese Malay.[2]


/a/ followed by a nasal consonant changes to /ŋ/: ayam ايم ('chicken') becomes ayang; makan ماكن ('to eat') becomes makang

/a/ at the end of syllables changes to /ɔʔ/: minta مينتا ('to ask') becomes mitok

/ah/ changes to /ɔh/: rumah رومه ('house') becomes rumoh

/a/ changes to /ə/: saya ساي ('I') becomes saye

/i/ changes to /iŋ/: sini سيني ('here') becomes sining

/ua/ changes to /ɔ/: buaya بوايا ('crocodile') becomes boye

/aj/ becomes /aː/: sungai سوڠاي ('river') becomes sunga

/aw/ becomes /a/: pisau ڤيساو ('knife') changes to pisa

/ia/ before a nasal vowel changes to /ijaŋ/: siam سيام ('Siam') becomes siyang

/ia/ changes to /ɛ/: biasa بياسا ('once') becomes bese

/s/ and /f/ at the end of syllables changes to /h/: malas مالس ('lazy') changes to malah

/m/ and /n/ at the end of syllables changes to /ŋ/: hakim حاكيم ('judge') changes to hakeng

/r/ changes to /ɣ/: orang اورڠ ('person') becomes oghang

Final consonants are often only pronounced as a glottal stop. bukit بوكيت ('hill') becomes buke’ ([bukiʔ])

Words are distinguished by lengthened initial consonant.

Final /l/ is silent. Example: tinggal ('left') becomes tingga; tebal ('thick') becomes teba.

Usually /l/ as in /lah/ is removed and becomes /ah/. Example: Banyaklah ('so many') becomes banyok ah.

Bulang ('moon') vs. bːulang ('many months'); katok ('to strike') vs. kːatok ('frog'); siku ('elbow') vs. sːiku ('hand tool')


Several comparisons between Standard Malay and Terengganu Malay with English translations:

Standard Malay Terengganu Malay English
Saya Ambe/aku/saye/kite/oghang I/me
Anda/Kamu Mung/Deme/Awok/Mikey/Uning You
Siapa Piye Who
Suka Brehi/Brahi/Wahi Like/interest
Ketawa Suke/Gelekek Laugh
Juga Ghetek/Etek/Jugok (often shortened to just gok) Also
Kandang Gok Cage
Yang Hok Conjunction, similar to 'which'.
Beritahu Kabo/Royak To tell
Tidak mahu Tak Mboh Do not want
Tidur Tido/Jeretoh Sleep
Apa Nape/Mende What
Degil Babey/Gong/Kerah Keng Stubborn
Selalu Sokmo Always
Duit/Wang Pitih/Yya/Ghiya Money
Kenapa Bakpe Why
Tidak Dok No
Ya Ho/Ye Yes
Jambatan Ghetok Bridge
Garang Bekeng Pugnacious
Apa Kabar Ape Kabo/Guane Gamok How are you?
Tangkap Tagak/Igak Catch
Ejek Nyenyeh/Nganjing Insulting
Panas Baran Mmusang Hot-tempered
Dia Ye/Nye They
Leka Ghalik Preoccupied
Letih Dok ghok Tired
Kantung Plastik Supik/Jabir Plastic bag
Kawan Saing Friend
Sempat Dang Make it
Berani Nellang/Tebeng Brave
Kerap Keghek Many times
Azan Bang Adhan (Islamic call to prayer)
Jangan Doksoh/Soh Beng Do not
Kedekut Kupik Stingy
Biar Lok Let
Cuba Ce/Tra Try
Sekarang Lening Today
Keluar Tubek Out
Ais/Es Ping/Peng Ice (refers to ice cubes in water)
Tolong Tulong Help
Letak Letok/Skung Put
Buang Tohok Throw away
Panjat Khabak/Kabak Climb
Lempar Lepo/Plekong/Petong Throw
Sampai Sapa Arrive
Nanti Kekgi Later
Berjalan-jalan, Bersiar-siar Derak, Doktong, Liwo-liwo Stroll, trip, travel


Standard Malay Terengganu Malay English
Sangat Putih Puteh Lepuk/Sepuk Very white
Sangat Hitam Itang Beletung/Belegang Very dark
Sangat Merah Meroh Nyale/Merang Very red
Sangat Kuning Kuning Sio Very yellow
Sangat Busuk Busuk Kohong/Bango/Hapok Very smelly
Sangat Hancing Hacing Pering Very stenchy
Sangat Hanyir Hanyey Mekok Very fishy
Sangat Wangi Wangi Mekok Very fragrant
Sangat Tengik Tengik Bango Very rancid
Sangat Masin Masing Pekok/Rebing Very salty
Sangat Manis Manih Letting Very sweet
Sangat Tawar Tawo Hebe Very tasteless
Sangat Pahit Pahik Lepang Very bitter
Sangat Masam Masang Rebang Very sour


Numerals in Terengganu Malay are closely related to those of neighbouring Kelantanese Malay; however, they differ in pronunciation, particularly the final letter.

Standard Malay Terengganu Malay English
Satu Se One
Dua Duwe Two
Tiga Tige Three
Empat Pak Four
Lima Lime Five
Enam Nang Six
Tujuh Tujoh Seven
Lapan Lapang Eight
Sembilan Smilang/Mmilang Nine
Sepuluh Spuloh/Ppuloh Ten
Seratus Sratoh One hundred
Seribu Sribu One thousand
Sejuta Sjuta One million


Most words for animals agree with standard Malay, differing only in pronunciation.

Standard Malay Terengganu Malay English
Ayam Ayang Chicken
Buaya Boye Crocodile
Ikan Tongkol Ikang Aye Euthynnus affinis
Ikan Cencaru Ikang Kerah Ekor Torpedo scad
Ikan Pelaga Ikang Sekila/Skila Fighting fish
Labah-labah Llabe Spider
Lintah Litoh Slug
Ketam Ketang Crab
Kerbau Kuba/Kubo (in Inland Terengganu) Buffalo
Kumbang Kkabo Beetle
Semut Merah Semuk Gata Fire ant
Ular Ulo Snake
Harimau Rima Tiger
Singa Singe Lion
Lipas Lipah Cockroach
Gajah Ghajoh Elephant
Burung Helang Burong Lang Eagle
Biawak Bewok Monitor lizard
Tupai Tupa Squirrel
Katak Katok (not to be mistaken with a Terengganuan homonym, which means 'to strike') Frog
Kelekatu Katu Termite alates
Anai-Anai Ana-Ana Termite
Sotong Sutong Squid
Kura-kura Kure Tortoise/Turtle

Notable Terengganuan phrases

Starang baroh means 'really', a popular phrase used to show or express something that is really serious or true.

Example: Ambe dok tau starang baroh, as opposed to Standard Malay or West coast Malay dialects: Saya memang tak tahu langsung.

Another famous Terengganuan Malay phrase is Senyung sokmo which means Senyum selalu in standard Malay and 'Smile always' in English. It is widely used by Terengganu people to wish other people well and to brighten their days.

Dokrok cettong denotes two situations whereby one is totally exhausted or someone who is very weak.[clarification needed]

Sample text

Terengganu Malay:

Budok-budok lening koho dok kena makanang tradisi, sohbeng kate kuey, nasik pong ttuko bimbo lagi, nok wak guane makanang lening modeng blake, oghang mude tak mboh belajo duk ngarak ke oghang tue sokmo.


Budak-budak sekarang semakin tak kenal makanan tradisi, jangan kata kuih, nasi pun masih tertukar lagi, nak buat macam mana makanan sekarang semua moden, orang muda tak nak belajar selalu mengharap ke orang-orang tua.


'Kids today don't know about traditional foods, it's not just traditional cakes, even the rice as well, what can we do all foods these days are modern, younger generations don't want to learn always rely on old people.'


  1. ^ "Gadis persis Kajol minta pengikut hormat agamanya, fasih dan pekat loghat Ganu tak semestinya perlu pakai tudung". mStar. 16 May 2022. Retrieved 30 October 2022.
  2. ^ a b c "Malay". Ethnologue.
  3. ^ Collins, James T. (1989). "Malay Dialect Research in Malaysia: The Issue of Perspective" (PDF). Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde. 145 (2): 235–264. doi:10.1163/22134379-90003253. JSTOR 27864031.
  4. ^ Mohd Nasir Awang (7 July 2013). "Besut – Bumi Pertautan Dua Budaya". Gemersik Bayu Pantai (in Malay).
  5. ^ Hasrah, Mohd Tarmizi (2020). "Dialek Pasir Raja: Ciri Fonologi dan Pengelompokan". Jurnal Bahasa. 20 (2): 173–202. doi:10.37052/jb20(2)no1. S2CID 234391264 – via ResearchGate.
  6. ^ a b Junaini Kasdan (January 2018). "Dialek Terengganu dalam Penyampaian Dakwah: Analisis Sosiokognitif (Terengganu Dialect in Preaching of Da'wah: A Socio-Cognitive Analysis)". doi:10.17576/jatma-2018-0603-03 (inactive 31 January 2024).((cite web)): CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of January 2024 (link)
  7. ^ "Kajian Dialek Trengganu" (in Malay). 14 January 2013. Retrieved 10 February 2016 – via slideshare.net.
  8. ^ "Glosari Dialek Hulu Terengganu Dibukukan". TRDI News (in Malay). 17 July 2017. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  9. ^ "Kedudukan Geografi Dan Penduduk". Archived from the original on 8 June 2007.
  10. ^ Rencana (14 July 2013). "Orang Besut: Anak Terengganu, Kelantan Pelihara? – Mohd Izzuddin Ramli". The Malaysian Insider (in Malay). Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  11. ^ "Profil Daerah: JPS Daerah Besut" (PDF). Department of Irrigation and Drainage (in Malay). 2012. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  12. ^ "Saleem imbau zaman gemilang". 11 September 2018.

Further reading