Chapter 1 : Introduction to Malay

DLS Malay Communication Syllabus

Download Fundamentals of Malay Slide

Introduction

This course is designed for English speakers who wish to learn Basic Malay in 20-week lessons.

The Main Differences between English and Malay

1. Tenses

In Bahasa Malaysia, Past Tense Verbs do not exist. Eg : I eat = I ate = Saya makan. Actions are explained using time as present, past or future indicator.

  • Eg : I eat everyday : Saya makan setiap hari
  • Eg : I ate just now : Saya makan tadi
  • Prefixes are widely used with Bahasa Malaysia verbs, eg : me.., be.., ter.. and di...
  • Suffixes are also widely used with Bahasa Malaysia verbs, eg : ..kan, …i

2. Verbs

Similar to English, Bahasa Malaysia uses Simple, Continuous and Perfect Verbs to explain present, past and future actions

3. Active and Passive Sentences

Similar to English, Active and Passive sentences exist in Bahasa Malaysia

  • eg active : I do it – Saya membuatnya
  • eg passive : It is done already – Ia telah dibuat

4. Arrangement of Articles, possessive pronouns and Adjectives

Opposite to English, the articles, possessive pronouns and adjectives are placed after the nouns. Examples :

  • Articles :  the house – rumah itu
  • Possessive pronoun :  my house – rumah saya
  • Adjective : big house – rumah besar

5. How to translate ‘to be is, are, am, was, were etc.. Click here for more

  • When a noun explains its position, ‘to be’ is translated as : berada or ada or can be omitted
    • eg : He is here – Dia berada di sini or Dia ada di sini or Dia di sini
  • When a noun explains itself as a noun, ‘to be’ is translated as : ialah or can be omitted
    • eg : He is a doctor – Dia ialah seorang doktor or Dia seorang doktor or Dia doktor
  • When a noun explains its adjective, ‘to be’ is not translated (it is omitted)
    • eg : The house is big – Rumah itu besar (‘is’ is omitted)
  • When ‘to be’ is used in continuous action, it is translated as : sedang
    • eg : She is cooking – Dia sedang memasak
  • When ‘to be’ is used in a passive voice, it is translated as : di
    • eg : The shop is opened everyday – kedai itu dibuka setiap hari

6. Vowels

  • a : is always pronounced as ‘ah‘ in ‘art’, never other sound like ‘a’ in make, at etc..
    • eg : waktu (time)
  • i : is always pronounced as ‘i in ‘into’, never other sound like ‘i’ in fine, bind etc
    • eg : ini (this), itu (that)
  • o : is always pronounced as ‘o‘ in oval, never other sound like ‘o’ in pot, out etc
    • eg : orang (people)
  • u : is always pronounced as ‘oo‘ in look, book, never other sounds like ‘u’ in upon, up, urban etc
    • eg : untuk (for)

The only inconsistent vowel in Malay is ‘e

e : there are 2 sounds of ‘e

  • i. ‘e‘ as in ‘her’ – mostly applicable to a 3 letter-syllable, eg : berlari (run), berjalan (walk) but sometimes to a 2-letter syllable eg : sepak (slap), belum (not yet)
  • ii. ‘e‘ as in ‘egg’ – mostly applicable in 1 0r 2-letter syllable, eg : esok (tomorrow) lepak (hang around)

7. Consonants

Most consonants sound the same in English and Malay, except :

  • c : always sounds as ‘c‘ in ‘chair’, never other sounds like ‘c’ in car, cat etc
  • q,v, x : there are no official word in Malay starting with ‘q, v and x’. If there are, they are imported words from Arabic, eg : qada’ (re-pay), qadar (rate), Quran (Holy book of Islam)

Combination of consonants :

words with double ‘g’ carries a ‘g’ sound

  • eg : menggunakan (using)

words with ‘ng’ do not exist in English sound, however it is pronounced with nasal ‘ngah’ without ‘g’ sound. (please watch Malay videos to grasp this sound)

  • eg : dengan (with or by)

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