A language of Malaysia

Alternate Names
Colloquial Malay, Informal Malay, Local Malay, Malayu
Bahasa Melayu, ملايو‎ (Melayu)

13,500,000 in Malaysia, all users. L1 users: 10,500,000 (2004 census). 10 million in Peninsular Malaysia, 506,000 in Sarawak, and 30,000 in Labuan. L2 users: 3,000,000. Total users in all countries: 19,122,700 (as L1: 16,122,700; as L2: 3,000,000).


Peninsular Malaysia: widespread; Sarawak: Betong, Kuching, Samarahan, and Sri Aman districts.

Language Status

3 (Wider communication).


Coastal Terengganu, Inland Terengganu, Kelantan, Pahang, Southeast Island, Jugra-Muar-Melaka-Johor, Sarawak (Sarawak Malay), Tamiang, Deli, Riau Mainland, Akit, Sakai, Riau islands, Coastal Jambi, Belitung, Northwestern Kalimantan, Upstream Western Kalimantan, Southwestern Coastal Kalimantan. Kedah Malay [meo], Negeri Sembilan Malay [zmi], Jakun [jak], Orang Kanaq [orn], Orang Seletar [ors], Temuan [tmw], Sabah Malay [msi], and Brunei [kxd] are so closely related that they may one day be included as dialects of Malay. Coastal Terengganu, inland Terengganu, Kelantan most aberrant but evidently mutually intelligible with Pattani Malay [mfa]. A member of macrolanguage Malay [msa].

Language Use

Also use English [eng], Standard Malay [zsm]. Used as L2 by Central Melanau [mel], Cheq Wong [cwg], Duano [dup], Jah Hut [jah], Jehai [jhi], Kensiu [kns], Kintaq [knq], Lanoh [lnh], Mah Meri [mhe], Malaccan Creole Portuguese [mcm], Minriq [mnq], Remun [lkj], Salako [knx], Semai [sea], Semaq Beri [szc], Semelai [sza], Southern Sama [ssb], Tamil [tam], Temiar [tea], Toraja [sda].


Arabic script, Naskh variant [Arab]. Latin script [Latn].

Other Comments

This entry refers to local or vernacular Malay varieties not well differentiated from each other, and other varieties for which further research is needed to clarify differentiation from mainstream dialects. Distinguished from court-Malay-derived Standard Indonesian [ind] or Standard Malay [zsm] by sociolinguistic status as vernaculars, and other linguistic features.

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