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Languages & Phrases

Apa Khabar Ah-Pah Cah-Bah Hello/Hi
Selamat Tingal Sell-ah-mat Teng-ahl Good Bye!
Adakah anda fasih berbahasa Inggeris / Malayu Ah-dah-cah an-dah fah-seh ber-bah-hah-sah Ing-gur-riss / Meh-lay-oo Do you speak English / Melay?
Nama saya… Nah-mah say-ah My name is…
Anda boleh membantu saya? Anda boleh membantu saya? Can you help me?
Saya mencari… Say-ah men-cha-ree I’m looking for…
Ya / Ta Ada Yah / Ah-dah Yes / No
Terima Kasih Teh-ree-mah Kah-seh Mr / Mrs / Miss
Hari Ini / Kini Hah-ree ee-nee / Kee-nee Today / Now
Esok / Semalam Esok / Semalam Tomorrow / Yesterday
Ini / Yang / Di Sini / Ada Ee-nee / Yah-ng / Dee see-nee / Ah-dah This / That / Here / There



Above are a few common Malay phrases to help you get around.


The region of Malaysia houses over one-hundred-and-thirty differing languages with over a third of them originating in the Peninsula itself. In primary schools the main languages which are taught are Malay (Bahasa Malaysia), Mandarin Chinese and Tamil. Of course, the dialects between languages vary greatly based on location. For example, there are over ten different dialects of Malay spoken throughout Malaysia alone.

Additionally the native tribes of East Malaysia as well as Citizens of Minangkabau, Bugis and Java speak their own languages. In Sarawak the main language spoken is Iban, a tribal language, while in Sabah the natives speak various Dusunic languages. However, many other tribal and ancestral languages are also spoken in the local areas such as Bajau, Murut, Rungus, Iranun, Sungai, Ubian, Suluk, Lundayeh and Bruneian.

Malaysian Standard English and Manglish languages, derived from the collaboration of British, Malay, Chinese and Tamil languages, are heavily spoken in the business world as well as standard English itself which is used to teach Mathematics and the Sciences in schools. The government officially discourages the use of Manglish however.

The Chinese languages also make a strong presence in the country with the main strain spoken as Mandarin. However, other commonly spoken Chinese variants include Cantonese, Hakka, Fuzhou, Hainanese and Hokkien. It’s common for Chinese youths to be fully fluent in at least one type of Chinese, typically Mandarin, as well as Malay and English.

Older Indian residents speak Tamil frequently but it’s becoming less and less frequent among Indian youths. Additionally, a small amount of Malaysians have Eurasian ancestors and subsequently speak Creole languages such as Malaccan Creoles or the Spanish based Zamboangueno spoken mainly in the Phillipines. Other commonly spoken languages are Burmese, Thai, Sinhalese, Filipinos and Pakistani.