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English->Malay | French->Malay | Spanish->Malay | Malay->English/French/Spanish
(A mastery of this selected list of the most commonly-used Malay words should help you to carry out a very simple conversation in Malay.)
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On Pronouns | On Prepositions | On Colours | On Days of the Week | Sentence-building | Vocabulary | Sentences to translate

A basic course in the Malaysian and Indonesian languages in 64 lessons  ©pgoh13.com
These lessons are copyrighted and their publication in any form is strictly prohibited.

Lesson 2 Bahasa (language)

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A second reading (by Michelle Nor Ismat, a native speaker)
Saya boleh cakap bahasa Melayu.
Peter tidak boleh cakap bahasa Jepun.
Dia cakap bahasa Inggeris.
Mereka tidak boleh cakap bahasa Cina.
I can speak the Malay language.
Peter cannot speak Japanese.
He speaks English.
They cannot speak Chinese.
Saya = I
boleh= can
cakap = speak
bahasa = language
Melayu = Malay
tidak boleh = cannot
bahasa Jepun =Japanese language
Dia = He/She
bahasa Inggeris = English language
Mereka = They
bahasa Cina = Chinese language

The Malaysian language (Bahasa Malaysia) is actually the Malay language (Bahasa Melayu). As such the two terms are interchangeable.
In Lesson 1 saya was used as a possessive (nama saya = "my name" and buku saya = "my book"). Here it is used as a pronoun. Another widely-used word for "I" is aku (perhaps more used in Indonesia than saya).
Oh, by the way while in English and many other languages we have different forms for I (such as me, my, mine) in Malay there is just one form: saya. Cool!
Dia can mean he or she depending on the context. Thus:
Dia kawan saya. (= He is my friend - if the person referred to is a man)
Dia kawan saya. (= She is my friend - if the person referred to is a woman)
Dia marah. (= "He is angry" or "She is angry" depending on the context)
The two words in Malay to distinguish between the two sexes are:
lelaki for "male" and
perempuan for "female".
Thus to avoid any ambiguity in the above sentences you could say:
Orang lelaki itu kawan saya. (= That man is my friend) or
Orang perempuan itu kawan saya. (= That woman is my friend)
By the way while "male" and "female" are also used to describe animals in English lelaki and perempuan should never be used for animals in Malay.
The male of an animal is described as jantan and the female as betina.
Thus a cock is ayam jantan and a hen is ayam betina.
In written form Dia is often replaced by Ia which is also used to indicate objects and animals (equivalent of "it").
By the way newspapers often use beliau for "he" or "she" (but this use is restricted to an elderly or respectable person and is not used for a criminal).
nya is tagged on to a noun to mean "his" or "her" eg. isterinya (his wife), suaminya (her husband) or anaknya (his child or her child - depending on the context). Similarly kawannya can mean "his friend" or "her friend" and keretanya can mean "his car" or "her car", again depending on the context.
Are you ready to do an exercise? If yes, click here.

to speak bicara (or bertutur) cakap
can bisa boleh
I can speak English. Aku bisa bicara bahasa Inggris Saya boleh cakap bahasa Inggeris.
wife istri isteri
car mobil kereta
man pria orang lelaki

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