Bahasa Malaysia is Malaysia's national language and is formerly known as Bahasa Melayu (Malay language). It is not only spoken in Malaysia but is also widely spoken in Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore. Some people say that Bahasa Malaysia is an easy language. To a certain extent it is, but believe me, it is not so easy that you can afford to study it while listening to your favourite music at the same time!
The truth is there is no EASY language in the world. Everything is relative so when people say that Malay is an easy language what they really mean is that it IS easy when compared to studying a language like English, French or Mandarin, for example. Thus if you might need to spend at least 300 hours studying English, French or Mandarin before you are able to use it in a simple conversation, you need only spend say, 100 hours studying Malay before you are able to do so. This is because in Malay there is no past tense or past participles of verbs to study as in English, the verbs are not conjugated as in French and you don't have to worry about getting the tones right in order to be understood as you have to in Mandarin.
Lesson 1 Nama (Name)
Click to listen
A second reading
(by Michelle Nor Ismat, a native speaker)
Apa nama anda?
Nama saya John.
Dia kawan saya.
Dia kawan saya.
What is your name?
My name is John.
He is my friend.
What is his name?
His name is Peter.
She is my friend.
What is her name?
Her name is Mary.
Apa = What
nama = name
anda = you or your
saya = I or my
kawan = friend
dia = he OR she
mereka = they
nama anda = your name
namanya = his/her name
nama saya = my name
kawan anda= your friend
kawannya = his/her friend
The first thing you will notice is the absence of the verb "to be" in Malay in the above sentences.
In fact the verb "to be" is simply not needed here.
A sentence without a verb? Yes, it's possible in Malay.
Those who had to struggle with the conjugations of the verb "to be" in French or Spanish will be greatly relieved to hear this! (Having said that, people who feel lost without putting in a verb in a sentence can note that the word adalah is sometimes used for the verb "is". Thus Dia guru saya and Dia adalah guru saya both mean "He/She is my teacher".)
Another thing you will notice is that while in English we have the pronoun before the noun (eg. my name, your name) in Malay it is just the opposite ie. the noun comes first then the pronoun (so in Malay we say "name my", "name your"). If you remember this it will serve you throughout this course as it is the same word order when it comes to adjectives and nouns (so "big car" becomes "car big" in Malay).
The third important thing to remember is something that you'd better get right from the very beginning and that is the same pronoun "dia" is used for BOTH "he" and "she". Only the context will tell whether you're talking about a man or a woman.
For those who want to know more:
Please note that the colloquial forms (Apa nama anda? and Apa namanya? ) are used in this lesson.
The formal forms would be Siapa nama anda? and Siapa namanya?
The formal forms do not help much for English-speaking students because Siapa actually means "Who" as in Siapa dia? = "Who is he (or she)?" while Apa normally means "What" as in Apa ini? (What is this?)
You will notice that the suffix nya is tagged on to the noun to indicate "his" or "her". So namanya can either mean "his name" or "her name" (depending on the context). Similarly bukunya can mean "his book" or "her book" and kawannya can mean "his friend" or "her friend".
So far you have learnt the Malay pronouns for I, you, he and she.
The Malay word for the pronoun "they" or "them" is mereka. To help you remember I am going to bring up three common names: Murphy, Raymond and Kazan, the famous Hollywood film director. What is so special about these three people, you might ask. Well, if you remember them, they're not only going to help you remember the Malay word for "they" or "them" but also help you to pronounce the word correctly. How is this possible? Well just pronounce the FIRST syllable of each of the three names and you will get mereka as it should be pronounced (Mur-Ray-Ka). I hope this little mnemonic will be of help to you. At least it will show you that the e vowel has got two different sounds in Malay (see Lesson 50), one the schwa sound as the "Mur" in Murphy (the phonetic symbol for this sound being ə) and the other the ay sound as in Ray (if you know French, it's the sound of é).
Go here to continue Lesson One.