BITS and Pieces

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Malay

Is it just me or have you also wondered why it is far more therapeutic when you empathise with someone in their mother tongue? Especially, when you’re in a land full of foreign tongues? Just hearing one word in the language that you closely associate with, can give you joy and leave you wanting more! So the next time you find yourself greeted with “Selamat Pagi” at the Kuala Lumpur airport, “Selamat Pagi” back at them with a smile. Sometimes, a tiny nod of familiarity can light up anyone and add a few miracles of joy to your otherwise stressful life! This month we present to you Malay, an Austronesian language spoken in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei and Thailand.

But wait, it’s an Asian language! Must be complicated, right?

If you compare Malay to other South East Asian languages, it is relatively easy to learn! Malay is an agglutinative language, which means that new words are formed by simply adding prefixes or suffixes to various roots. This has led to some very long words but is very easy to grasp if you remember the roots well! The verbs do not change form to indicate tense or person; adverbs or indicators of time are used instead to express these nuances. The sentences in Malay follow the subject-verb-object order, making it supremely easy for any English speaker to learn an Asian language! Besides, nouns in Malay do not have gender and plurals are often indicated by simply doubling a word. For example, ‘rumah’ (house) becomes ‘rumah-rumah’ (houses). It definitely can’t get easier than this!

Ok, tell me more!

Throughout history, a number of varying scripts have been used to convey the Malay language in written form. When Islam arrived in Southeast Asia during the 14th century, the Arabic script (Jawi) was adapted to write the Malay language. In the 17th century, due to Dutch and British influence, the Arabic script was replaced by the Latin script (Rumi). Although, Rumi has replaced Jawi in daily-life activities today, it is still used in contexts pertaining to religion.

Globalisation factor

The growth of the Malay language cannot be underestimated in the field of international trade and commerce. Malay has been chosen as official language of business in a few places. So if not from the cultural or linguistic point of view, there are several ‘entrepreneurial’ reasons that may just about convince you to look up for online tutorials on Malay! Terima Kasih.

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Aditi Shridhar - French-English Translator, BITS Private Limited Aditi would rather bask in some trivial joys of the day than let some euphoric moment define her happiness. As a student, she enjoyed coding for hours but that didn’t help satiate her quest for personal growth. She inadvertently entered the world of languages, only to discover her source of happiness there! Having sown the seeds of life in a new city, she is now nurturing it by exploring the city, meeting new people, cultivating new beliefs and lastly, creating a home outside of home!