Malay, Standard


A language of Malaysia

Alternate Names
Bahasa Malayu, Formal Malay, Informal Malay, Malay, Malayu, Melayu, Melayu Baku

Few L1 speakers. L2 includes most Malaysian population.


Widespread in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, and Sarawak.

Language Status

1 (National). Statutory national language (1963, Constitution (amended), Article 153A(1)).


None known. Lexical similarity: more than 80% with Indonesian [ind]. A member of macrolanguage Malay [msa].



Language Use

Also use English [eng], Mandarin Chinese [cmn], Tamil [tam].

Language Development
Used through secondary education and in some tertiary institutions. Fully developed. Bible: 1733–1996.

Arabic script [Arab]. Braille script [Brai]. Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

On Peninsular Malaysia, Standard Malay [zsm] exists in a diglossic relationship with Local Malay [zlm]. Standard Malay (derived from court Malay), both in terms of its linguistic structure as well as its sociolinguistic function, has its closest counterpart not in a particular Local Malay dialect but in Standard Indonesian [ind].

Also spoken in:

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