Published December 30, 2017
This video was recorded by Kristen Tcherneshoff in Langkawi, Malaysia, where she and Senful met. Malay, also known as Malaysian, is spoken by as many as 300 million people, mostly as an auxiliary language and primarily across the strait of Malacca. It is the sole national language of Malaysia and Brunei, as well as a recognized minority language in the Indonesian provinces of Sumatra and Kalimantan. It is also an official language of Singapore, alongside English, Mandarin, and Tamil. It is perhaps the most widely spoken member of the Austronesian family of languages, which includes mother tongues of communities across the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Traditionally an exclusively oral language, a Malaysian literary tradition had emerged by the 19th century CE. Owed to South Asia’s experience with both European conquest and the spread of Islam, the language is written with varieties of the Latin and Arabic alphabets: the Rumi and Jawi scripts, respectively. In its standard form, Malay is closely related to Indonesian, so much so that some linguists consider both languages to be dialects of a single mother tongue.