Malay alphabet

Malay alphabet

The modern Malay alphabet (in Malaysia, Tulisan Rumi) consists of the 26 letters of the basic Latin alphabet without any diacritics. [1] It is the more common of the two alphabets used today to write the Malay language, the other being Jawi (a modified Arabic script). The Latin Malay alphabet is the official Malay script in Indonesia (as Indonesian), Malaysia (as Malaysian) and Singapore, while it is co-official with Jawi in Brunei.

Historically, various scripts such as Pallava, Kawi and Rencong scripts, were used to write Old Malay, until they were replaced by Jawi with the introduction of Islam. The arrival of European colonial powers brought the Latin alphabet to the Malay Archipelago.

As the Malay-speaking countries were divided between two colonial administrations (the Dutch and the British), two major different spelling orthographies were developed in the Dutch East Indies and British Malaya respectively, influenced by the orthographies of their respective colonial tongues. The Soewandi Spelling System (or the Republic Spelling System after independence), used in the Dutch East Indies and later in independent Indonesia until 1972, was based on the Dutch alphabet. In 1972, as part of the effort of harmonizing spelling differences between the two countries, Indonesia and Malaysia each adopted a spelling reform plan, called the Perfected Spelling System (Ejaan yang Disempurnakan) in Indonesia and the Consolidated Latin Spelling System (Ejaan Rumi Bersama) in Malaysia. Although the representations of speech sounds are now largely identical in the Indonesian and Malaysian varieties, a number of minor spelling differences remain.

Letter names and pronunciations

Letter Name IPA Notes
Aa a /a/ a as in father
Bb be /b/ be as in bed
Cc ce /tʃ/ ce as in check
Dd de /d/ de as in day
Ee e /e/ or /ə/ [2] e as in let
Ff ef /f/ ef as in theft
Gg ge /ɡ/ ge as in gain
Hh ha /h/ ha as in harm
Ii i /ɪ/ i as in enough
Jj je /dʒ/ je as in jam
Kk ka /k/ ka as in cuff
Ll el /l/ el as in gel
Mm em /m/ em as in tempo
Nn en /n/ en as in end
Oo o /o/ o as in owe
Pp pe /p/ pe as in pain
Qq ki /q/ ki as in kissl
Rr er /r/ er as in errand, but rolled
Ss es /s/ es as in best
Tt te /t/ te as in terrible
Uu u /u/ u as in soon
Vv ve /v/ or /f/ ve as in vegetable or fe as in feign
Ww we /w/ we as in well
Xx iks /ks/ iks as in wicks
Yy ye /j/ ye as in yes
Zz zet /z/ similar to zed

In addition, there are digraphs that are not considered separate letters of the alphabet:

Digraph IPA
ai /ai̯/
au /au̯/
oi /ui̯, oi̯/


Digraph IPA
kh /x, h, k/
ny /ɲ/
ng /ŋ/
sy /ʃ, sj/



  1. ^ Before a spelling reform in 1972, Indonesia would disambiguate /e/ as é and /ə/ as e, and Malaysia /e/ as e and /ə/ as ĕ. The spelling reform removed the diacritics and use e to represent both /e/ and /ə/.
  2. ^ /e/ as in ray e.g. "reka" or /ə/ as in fur e.g. "enam"
  3. ^ a b [1]

External links

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