Brunei Malay

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Brunei Malay
Melayu Brunei
Native to Brunei, Malaysia
Ethnicity Bruneian Malay, Kedayan
Native speakers
unknown (270,000 cited 1984–2013)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3 kxd
Glottolog brun1242[2]
  Area where Brunei Malay language were spoken

Brunei Malay (Bahasa Melayu Brunei), or Kedayan (Kadaian), sometimes conflated as Brunei-Kadaian, is the national language of Brunei and a lingua franca in parts of East Malaysia.[3] It is not the official language of Brunei, which is standard Malay, but is socially dominant and is replacing minority languages. It is quite divergent from standard Malay and is mostly mutually unintelligible with it.

Dialects are Brunei Malay, Kedayan and Kampong Ayer, which are almost close. The name Brunei Malay is used for the numerically and politically dominant Brunei people, who traditionally lived on water. Kedayan is the used for the land-dwelling farmers, and Kampong Ayer is used for the inhabitants of the river in and north of the capital.[4][5]

Brunei Malay has a three-vowel system, with the merger of /a/ and /ə/. Final /k/ is released, and there is a non-phonemic glottal stop at the ends of vowel-final words.


Main article: Sabah Malay pidgin

A pidginised variant of Brunei Malay, known as Sabah Malay, is a local trade language.[6]

Brunei-Malay English dictionary[edit]

  • Saya/Aku = I/me
  • Awak/Kau (Ko) =You
  • Kami = We/us
  • Kamu =You guys / you all (can be just You)
  • Biskita = You (usually use to address older people) / us
  • Atu = That
  • Ani = This
  • Makan = eat
  • Cinta = love (address to loves one)
  • Suka = like
  • Mana? / Ke mana? /Di mana? = Where? / To where? / To Where?
  • Si awang = That Lad / That Boy
  • Si dayang = That girl
  • Lelaki/Laki-laki = Guys / Boys / Men
  • Perempuan / Bini-bini = Girls / women
  • Budiman = Gentlemen
  • Kebawah Duli = His Majesty
  • Perhamba = I (when talking with Royalty of Bolkiah Family)
  • Awu/Ya = Yes
  • Inda/Tidak = No
  • Siuk = Expression when feeling extreme fun I.e. Shiok in Singapore and Syok in Malaysia


  • "Ia atu bini-bini." = She is a lady.
  • "Sudah ko makan?" = Have you eaten?
  • "Awda mendapat cabutan bertuah" = You received a lucky draw.
  • "Ko" = You ( short version of Malay Standard 'Kau' )
  • "Awda" = (A combination of AWang and DAyang (Equivalent to Mr. and Miss)) = You. Generally used to address the public.
  • "Bini-bini" = lady ("bini" is also used in Malaysian Malay, bini however means wife. However, in Malaysian and Singaporean Malay, this is not considered a polite word either refer to someone's wife or to refer to one's own wife to friends, relatives, strangers etc. In Malaysia and Singapore, the word ' isteri ' is used in polite company. 'Orang Rumah' is also acceptable, the term literally means ' Person of the House'. In Indonesia, 'istri' is used. )
  • "Baiktah" ("Baik saja" in Malay) = might as well
  • "tarus" = straight ahead, immediately (spelled and pronounced 'terus' in standard Malay)
  • "Kitani" = We ( might be corrupted from ' Kita Ini ' - meaning ' Us Here ' in Malay )
  • "Karang" = later
  • "Ani" = this (' ini 'in Malay Standard)
  • "Awu" = yes
  • "Inda" = no
  • "Kita" = us (might be referring to older person as ' you ')
  • "Manada" = No way (denial words, also used in Malaysia)
  • "Orang Putih" = Literally mean White People, to refer the Westerner or any foreigner with white skin.
  • "Kaling" = referring to any Indian ethnics that live and works in Brunei (however, it is consider impolite word in Malaysia and Singapore which is "Keling")


The vocabulary of Brunei Malay has been collected and published by several western explorers in Borneo including Pigafetta in 1521, De Crespigny in 1872, Charles Hose in 1893, A. S. Haynes in 1900, Sidney H. Ray in 1913, H. B. Marshall in 1921, and G. T. MacBryan in 1922, and some Brunei Malay words are included in "A Malay-English Dictionary" by R. J. Wilkinson.[7][8][9]


  1. ^ Brunei Malay at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Brunei". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Such as the Federal Territory of Labuan, District of Limbang and Lawas (Sarawak) and District of Sipitang, Beaufort, Kuala Penyu and Papar (Sabah).
  4. ^ Gallop, 2006. "Brunei Darussalam: Language Situation". In Keith Brown, ed. (2005). Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (2 ed.). Elsevier. ISBN 0-08-044299-4. 
  5. ^ Wurm, Mühlhäusler, & Tryon, Atlas of languages of intercultural communication in the Pacific, Asia and the Americas, 1996:677
  6. ^ Sabah Malay pidgin at Ethnologue (16th ed., 2009)
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ Uhlenbeck 1958, p. 8.
  9. ^ Sidhu 2009, p. 283.

Further reading[edit]

A Vocabulary of Brunei Malay H. B. Marshall Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society No. 83 (APRIL, 1921), pp. 45–74 Published by: Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society Stable URL: Page Count: 30

External links[edit]