Malay Writing System

Malay is now written using the Latin script (Rumi), although an Arabic alphabet called Jawi also exists. Rumi is official in Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia. Rumi and Jawi are co-official in Brunei. Efforts are currently being undertaken to preserve Jawi in rural areas of Malaysia, and students taking Malay language examinations in Malaysia have the option of answering questions using Jawi. The Latin script, however, is the most commonly used in Malaysia, both for official and informal purposes.

Historically, Malay has been written using various scripts. Before the introduction of Arabic script in the Malay region, Malay was written using Pallava, Kawi and Rencong script and these are still in use today by the Champa Malay in Vietnam and Cambodia. Old Malay was written using Pallava and Kawi script, as evident from several inscription stones in the Malay region. Starting from the era of kingdom of Pasai and throughout the golden age of the Sultanate of Malacca, Jawi gradually replaced these scripts as the most commonly used script in the Malay region. Starting from the 17th century, under Dutch and British influence, Jawi was gradually replaced by the Rumi script.

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