Learn Malay

Learn Malay online with practical, real-life situations! Simple, fast and easy learning. Speak Malay language with confidence. Start now with uTalk!

About Malay

The Malay uTalk teaches is the standard version spoken in Malaysia and is also understood in Singapore, where Malay is one of four official languages. Malay is also spoken in Brunei, which has a slightly different dialect, and Indonesia, where it is known as bahasa Indonesia and treated as a separate language, despite great similarities. Malay has a lot of Arabic loanwords, as well as influences from Sanskrit, Tamil, Dutch and Portuguese. More recently, it has also started to absorb many English words.

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Fun facts — Malay

  • 'Capital city' in Malay - ibu negara - literally translates as 'mother of the country'.
  • The word ‘kaki’ can mean either foot or leg and is also used as a slang word for ‘connoisseur’ as in the phrase ‘kaki botol’ meaning a connoisseur of the bottle or alcoholic.

  • A stubborn person is described as ‘frying pan ears’ - telinga kuali - because they seem deaf to other people’s opinions as though they had a frying pan covering each ear.

  • Malay grammar is fairly simple, with no gender and no verb tenses. Plurals are indicated by simply repeating a word: ‘burung’ means ‘bird’ and ‘burung-burung’ means ‘birds’.
  • Although Malay is very similar to Indonesian, there are some big differences in meaning. For example, 'buntut' means 'tail' in Indonesian but 'backside' in Malay! 'Sup buntut sapi' or Indonesian oxtail soup sounds more like 'ox buttocks soup' in Malay. 

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