Sarawak Malay

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Sarawak Malay
Kelakar Sarawak
Native to Malaysia
Native speakers
500,000 - 600,000 (date missing)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Linguist list
Glottolog None

Sarawak Malay (Standard Malay: Bahasa Melayu Sarawak or Bahasa Sarawak, Jawi: بهاس ملايو سراوق, Sarawak Malay: Kelakar Sarawak) is a Malayan language native to the State of Sarawak, Malaysia. It is a common language used by natives of Sarawak. This variant is related to Bruneian Malay, spoken in the districts of Limbang and Lawas (Sarawak) and Pontianak Malay, which is spoken in the neighbouring West Kalimantan province in Indonesia.[citation needed] It is more similar to Ibanic languages compared to Malay variants in Sumatra and the Malayan Peninsula, which makes it mutually unintelligible for Malay speakers outside of Sarawak and Borneo.[citation needed].


Below is the differences between Standard Malay and Sarawakian Malay.

  1. pakai - pakei
  1. tidak - si/sik
  2. ya - aok

Most of the words used in Sarawak Malay nowadays are influenced by many languages such as English. These are words that came from English that have been modified according to the local accent:

  1. Carpet - Kapet
  2. Punctured - Pancet
  3. Handphone- Henpon
  4. Motor- Moto
  5. Frying Pan - Prempan
  6. Round - Raun


There are also other dialects of Sarawakian which is known as Bahasa Laut (Sea Language) Most of the words that are spoken ended with the vowel o. E.g.:

English Bahasa Sarawak Bahasa Laut
What Nakpa Nakpo
you Kau/ Kitak Au/ Itak
Like that Kedak ya Pia

Word formation[edit]

Word formation in Sarawak Malay is very different from Standard Malay or Malaysian language. Most West Malaysians do not understand Sarawakian conversation. Sabahan is also different from Sarawak Malay. But, there is one similar word that has been used by both Sabahans and Sarawakians: Bah. It is used to stress a sentence. E.g.: Don't do like that - "Iboh polah kedak ya bah." It is similar usage of "lah" in Singlish and in West Malaysia. E.g.: Don't do like that 'lah'. Some Sarawakian Malay language have a similar pronunciation of ai as ei, as in some districts of Perak: serai > serei, kedai > kedei. Some Sarawakian Malay verbs have a final glottal stop after a vowel or in place of final /r/: kena > kenak, air > aik, beri > berik. like Aboriginal Malay languages in West Malaysia.

Many words in Sarawak Malay are being simplified from the original pronunciation and some are totally different. E.g.:

English Bahasa Malaysia Bahasa Sarawak
Sweeping Menyapu Nyapu
Coconut Kelapa Nyior[1]
More Lagi lagik/ Agik/Gik
Road Jalan Raya Jeraya
Clever Pandai Pandei
Teach Mengajar Ngaja
Yes Ya aok
Cat Kucing Pusak
Dog Anjing Asuk
Chicken Ayam Manok
Knife Pisau ladin (Malay/Melanau) Dandin/ pisok

Colloquial and contemporary usage[edit]

Contemporary usage of Bahasa Sarawak includes contemporary Malay words or incorporated from other languages, spoken by the urban speech community, which may not be familiar to the older generation. E.g.: SMS language. E.g.:

English Bahasa Sarawak SMS Text
You Kitak ktk
me Kamek kmk
No Sik x
Message Mesej msg
Nothing Sikda xda


  1. Daftar Kata DIALEK MELAYU SARAWAK Edisi Kedua (ISBN 9836263241)
  1. ^ In Indonesian Language: Kelapa means "coconut", Niyur means "coconut tree".

External links[edit]