Learn Bahasa Malaysia
‘Bahasa’ means ‘language’, and Bahasa Malaysia (Malaysian language) is a variant of Malay, a major Malayo-Polynesian member of the Austronesian family of languages that spans from Madagascar in Africa to Hawaii in the United States of America. Malay or its variant is adopted as the national language of Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and to a large extent Indonesia, where it is known as Bahasa Indonesia. Its status as an official language of many states throughout history also makes it the lingua franca of over 300 million people in Southeast Asia, including in parts of Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, East Timor and southern Philippines.
Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (Malay for ‘the language and literary authority’) or DBP is the government body in charge of monitoring and regulating the standardised version of Malay in Malaysia. It works hand-in-hand with Majlis Bahasa Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia (Language Council for Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia), a regional body that monitors the evolution and guides the use of the language in the region. DBP produces Kamus Dewan whilst its Indonesian counterpart Badan Pengembangan Bahasa dan Perbukuan produces Kamus Besar Bahasa Indonesia (the Great Indonesian Dictionary), the two authoritative points of reference for the language.
Would you like to communicate with locals during your Southeast Asia tours like a pro? DBP in collaboration with language institutes in Malaysia offer various opportunities to learn Malay at different levels, be it for leisure, academic or business purposes. If you have yet to arrive in Malaysia and would like to learn the basics, many providers such as Udemy, FutureLearn and L-Lingo offer a beginner’s course online, some are even for free! Should you want to learn more and at higher levels, you may search for the right course at one of the language institutes below.