Seven Amazing Destinations Where the Malay Language is Spoken

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Malay is an Austronesian language that is spoken by over 290 million people worldwide. It may not be a language that many who live outside of Southeast Asia are used to hearing, but if you find yourself in the region, you’re likely to encounter many native speakers and learning even the most elementary Malay would be a huge asset to you during your travels.


Here are six amazing destinations where the Malay language is spoken.

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The Malay language is widely spoken in Indonesia – in fact, they have their own standardized version that is referred to as the Indonesian language. This standardized version is often used as a lingua franca (unifying language) in the region and by some estimates over 270 million people speak it.

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Malay is also the official language of Malaysia and they have their own standardized version as well. If you know Indonesian Malay there is significant overlap with Malaysian Malay and you will likely be able to communicate effectively in both, at least for the purposes of travel and socialization.


Standard Malay is spoken widely in Brunei and you’ll see written Malay in either the Latin alphabet (Rumi) or the Arabic alphabet (Jawi). You’re far more likely to see the Latin alphabet used, especially on any material created after 1941.

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Malay has been one of the four national languages of Singapore ever since 1961 when the country gained independence from Britain. Although the language isn’t used as much as English, it is taught in schools and was designated a national language in a symbolic gesture to connect the people of Singapore to their neighboring countries after independence.

East Timor

While Malay isn’t one of East Timor’s official languages, there are many who speak it in the country. In fact, the country’s name is derived from the word timur which means “east” in Malay. The two main languages spoken in East Timor are Portuguese and Tetum, another Austronesian language.

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South Thailand

While the Malay language isn’t spoken everywhere in Thailand, there are certain places where you’ll be able to practice your skills while you’re traveling the country such as the southernmost part which is located on the Malay Peninsula. The version of Malay that’s standardized in the region is called Kelantan-Pattani Malay.

Christmas Island

Christmas Island is an Australian territory located in the Indian Ocean. English is the most commonly spoken language here, with Malay and Mandarin tied for second place with 17% of the populace speaking with some level of fluency.


 In A Nutshell

One of the best ways to learn Malay is by taking lessons and MingoSpace offers one-on-one tutoring that will help you learn at your pace and practice the things that do make it challenging such as pronunciation. Click here to learn more about MingoSpace’s offerings and get started on your language learning journey.

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