Home Page
Of interest to Malay language students

 Introduction to the Malay Language 

Hi, welcome!
Bahasa Malaysia is Malaysia's national language and was formerly known as Bahasa Melayu (Malay language)*. It is not only spoken in Malaysia but is also widely spoken in Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore. Some people say that Bahasa Malaysia is an easy language. To a certain extent it is, but the truth is there is NO easy language in the world. Everything is relative so when people say that Malay is an easy language what they really mean is that it is easy WHEN COMPARED to studying a language like English, French or Mandarin, for example.
Thus if you might need to spend at least 300 hours studying English, French or Mandarin before you are able to use it in a simple conversation, you need only spend say, 100 hours studying Malay before you are able to do so. This is because in Malay there is no past tense or past participles of verbs to study as in English, the verbs are not conjugated as in French and you don't have to worry about getting the tones right in order to be understood as you have to in Mandarin.
But there is still a core vocabulary to be learnt - for colours, common adjectives, common verbs, names of objects around you, relationships, greetings, numbers, days of the week, telling the time, etc. etc. Not to mention about an aspect of Bahasa Malaysia that is particularly difficult for foreigners to master, namely the use of prefixes and suffixes in verbs.
So it is still 100 hours of solid study and hard work! And by 100 hours I don't mean 4 days and 4 hours of non-stop studying. It's more likely to be an hour's concentrated study every day over a period of three and a half months.
So don't expect me to lead you up the garden path by telling you how easy the Malay language is. But if you are determined there is no reason why you should not be able to pick it up on your own by following this course. Good luck! - pgoh

Grateful thanks to Michelle Nor Ismat, a native speaker, for volunteering to give a second reading to the course lessons.

*The language was known as "Bahasa Malaysia" with the creation of Malaysia in 1963, having been decreed as the national language of Malaysia. In 1986 it was replaced by the term "Bahasa Melayu" (Malay language). However in 2007 Malaysia's Parliament decided that as it is Malaysia's national language, it should be called "Bahasa Malaysia" and this is the name that is used for the language today.

PLEASE NOTE: This course was compiled in Year 2000. I am aware that language is something that is in constant evolution and I cannot vouch for the accuracy of every word that is written in this course. But I honestly believe that, on the whole, what was written in Year 2000 still applies today since this is just a basic course and a cat will still be called "kucing" in Malay for years to come! Having said that kindly excuse me for any errors that you may come across and although everything was written in good faith please don't take my word for the gospel truth! Wishing you every success in your studies. Thank you and Selamat belajar! - pgoh (27 February 2022)