Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia

Some people might not know that Bahasa Malaysia is very similar to Bahasa Indonesia (the Indonesian language). To draw a parallel they are quite as similar as British English is to American English or the Spanish of Spain to that of South America. A Malaysian speaking Bahasa Malaysia in Indonesia would normally be understood despite some lexical differences just as an Indonesian would be in Malaysia. Some differences exist though, mainly in vocabulary. Thus an Indonesian would say bisa whereas a Malaysian would say boleh (both mean "can"). Some examples of differences between Malay and Indonesian words in common use are shown in the following table.  Note that some of the Indonesian words are of Dutch origin.

Bahasa Malaysia
Bahasa Indonesia
English meaning
cakap
bila
kedai
tiket
pejabat pos
bilik
boleh
kereta
basikal
wayang gambar
petang
kerana
memerlukan
wang
kilang
telefon bimbit
farmasi
bicara
kapan
toko
karcis
kantor pos
kamar
bisa
mobil
sepeda
bioskop
sore
karena
membutuhkan
uang
pabrik
ponsel, telepon genggam
apotek
speak
when
shop
ticket
post office
room
can
car
bicycle
cinema
afternoon, evening
because
to need
money
factory
handphone/cellphone
pharmacy

Thus while a Malaysian would say Saya boleh cakap bahasa Inggeris (I can speak English) an Indonesian would say Saya bisa bicara bahasa Inggeris.
The differences in their pronunciation are also not that many (the big number of Indonesian workers in Malaysia helping).
It is also to be noted that while a Malaysian would address a man as Tuan an Indonesian would address him as Bapak or Pak. Similarly a woman would be addressed as Puan in Malaysia but Ibu (pronounced ee-boo) or Bu in Indonesia. In Indonesia as in Malaysia, a younger man can be addressed as Saudara and a younger woman as Saudari while a child can be addressed as Adik.
Another difference is that if someone were to say Terima kasih (=Thank you) to you in Malaysia, you would answer with Sama-sama whereas in Indonesia you would say Kembali.
Like the Malays in Malaysia, the Indonesians are very sensitive to politeness. So when you are trying to make your way through a group of people you don't just barge your way through them but should say Permisi. To help you to remember this, just think of "With your permission". In Malaysia you are more likely to say Maafkan in such a situation.
One word that you must absolutely not get mixed up is the word butuh which has vastly different meanings depending on whether you use it in Malaysia or in Indonesia. Thus in Malaysia the word butuh means a man's penis whereas in Indonesia it is a very commonly-used word as it stands for the verb "to need"!
The BBC has no Malay edition but it has an Indonesian edition here:
BBC Indonesian edition.
The Northern Illinois University has lots of resources for anyone wishing to study the Indonesian language. Go here to see how similar the two languages are in their vocabulary as well as in their pronunciation.
There is a comprehensive list of the differences in Malay and Indonesian words here.

Click here to go to the Malay language course.