Malay language is home to several South East Asian countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei. It is also spoken in some region in countries like Southern Thailand, Philippine, East Timor, as well as isolated islands like Cocos Island and Christmas Island. The estimated number of Malay language speaker are around 300 – 330 million in the SE Asian region.
From a language perspective, learning Malay language is easy if you read roman letters. Malay language uses standard roman letters with very little variation in its pronunciation for the vocals. Most of the time, you would only confuse on the ‘e’ sound which will not be a problem over time.
The sentence structure is simple as well. Usually you don’t have to worry about the grammar if you are interacting with the locals. You only need the basic grammar, and the rest is very forgivable by the locals. Even the locals tend to be loose on the grammar. They tend to shorten pronunciations, cut some connecting word and still be able to grasp the content of the conversation.
Some advanced usage of the language is used in selling and buying of “pantun”. This culture is usually associated with the meeting of two side of families from a couple who intends to get married. One side (usually from the groom side) of the family will tell the intention of their visit and the other will give reply regarding the matter. This is conducted by selling and buying of pantun. It has the indirect context of telling what they mean, but in a way that is understandable by both parties.
The Malay speaking countries especially in Malaysia and Indonesia is rich in cultural tradition. Some interesting cultures you can experience are the Silat martial arts, craft arts, the social function such as the wedding and Eid celebration. Some of these cultures are best appreciated if you know the language, especially for the social functions where you get to interact with the locals.
Place to visit
The South East Asian region where the Malay language are commonly spoken are located in the equatorial line. That means a lot of sun exposure with a lot of tropical area. You will be enjoying the weather and the nature as well. Plus, the cost of living is relatively low. Knowing the language will be a plus since it will help you navigate in a rural area and your ability to order food at a mamak restaurant.