List of Indigenous languages in Malaysia and details

In case you are not aware, Malaysia is a multiracial country populated by more than 100 races. Of course, we are most familiar with Chinese, Malay, and Indians. However, there is more to it in Malaysian races. All of these races exist in various locations of Malaysia and are frequently overlooked. There are a total of 133 languages spoken in Malaysia, with indigenous languages accounting for around 80% of the total. These indigenous languages are spoken by the indigenous people, or Orang Asli as they are known in Malaysia.

It means "the original people of Malaysia". And in this article today, we are going to cover some of the indigenous languages that are more popular among the others.

In Peninsular Malaysia, or we call it "West Malaysia", indigenous languages are spoken by the Jahai, Jahut, Jakun, Semai, Mah Teri, Temiar and Temuan. While in Sarawak, it is spoken by the Iban, Bidayuh and Melanau. In Sabah, it is spoken by the Kadasan Dusun, Bajau and Murut clans.

Indigenous languages in West Malaysia


Semai (Engrok Semai) is an Austroasiatic language of western Malaysia spoken by about 44,000 Semai people. Aspects that differ Semai language to the other indigenous languages is due to the irregular pattern of word choices and its lack of syllables. This continues with each word less than 4 syllables. For example, "Eat" translated into Semai is "Cak", and "Chicken" is "Fung" in Semai.


Jakun is spoken mostly in Peninsular Malaysia's east coast, particularly from Pekan in Pahang to Sri Gading, districts of Segamat, Muar, and Ledang in Johor. The Jakun tribe, who are part of the Proto-Malay branch of Malaysia's original peoples, speak the Jakun language.


Temuan is an Austronesian Malayan language spoken by the Temuan people, one of Peninsular Malaysia's Orang Asli or indigenous peoples, who live in the states of Selangor, Pahang, Johor, Malacca, and Negeri Sembilan. Temuan is a different language than Malay, however it shares some mutual intelligibility with Malay. Furthermore, it is written in the Latin alphabet, although there is no standard spelling.

Temuan is split into two primary dialects, Belandas and Mantra, which differ mostly in pronunciation and some lexicon but are nevertheless mutually intelligible among the indigenous people.


The Temiar people of Western Malaysia speak the Temiar language. The Temiar are one of the largest groups of indigenous people, with a population of over 30,000 ethnic. The term "Temiar" literally means "side" or "edge." This interpretation supports Temiars' self-description as "people of the edge or outside like the jungle."

Baba Malay

The Peranakans speak a dialect of Malay called Baba Malay. It features a mix of Hokkien grammar and Malay language, making it a common contact language between Hokkien male immigrants and native Malay women. As it is an old and endangered dialect, it is typically spoken by people in their eighties and nineties. Chinese people in East Java speak a dialect of Baba Malay known as Peranakan. It's a blend of Malay or Indonesian with elements of local Javanese and Chinese.

This cultivar can only be found in East Java, specifically Surabaya and the surrounding regions. While other Chinese speak the language varieties of the places where they live, younger ethnic Chinese people in Surabaya tend to speak pure Javanese and learn Mandarin in courses.


Jahut is spoken in Peninsular Malaysia by the populations near the river. There are no open major syllables in word-final places in Jahut. The language, on the other hand, has 15 consonants that can be employed to close a syllable. There are no limitations for non-homorganic stop clusters. As a result, many words start with consonants that aren't phonetically compatible. For example, there are a lot of words that start with the letters 'tk' or 'bk'. In contrast to other indigenous languages, Jahut has very short phonetic vowel lengths.

Indigenous languages in Borneo, East Malaysia.


Iban is an Austronesian language spoken by the Iban people. The language is quite similar to Malay, especially Sarawakian Malay. Iban language are supposed to have originated in western Borneo, The The Iban language is the native tongue of the Iban people, who belong to the "Dayak" ethnic group who are the original people from Borneo. During the colonial period, the Iban were referred to as "Sea Dayaks." The Iban are largely located in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, which is shared politically between Malaysia and Indonesia.

Students in rural regions with a majority Iban population, such as Baleh (Kapit), Betong, Sri Aman, Saratok, Lubok Antu, Pelagus (Kapit), Pakan, and Julau, are usually taught the language. Only a few schools in major cities, such as Kuching, teach the Iban language. This is owing to the scarcity of teachers qualified to teach the Iban language. Students in Forms 5 and 3 are permitted to include Iban language in their SPM and PT3 exams.

Bahasa Sarawak

Sarawak Malay is a Malayic language spoken in Sarawak, Malaysia. Sarawakese people speak it as a first language. This dialect is connected to Bruneian Malay, which is spoken in the Sarawak districts of Limbang and Lawas, and shares many characteristics with Sanggau, Sintang, and Sekadau Malay, which is spoken in Indonesia's West Kalimantan province.

There is some disagreement as to whether it is a dialect of Malay or a distinct language. When compared to the Malay dialects of Sumatra and the Malayan Peninsula, it is more close to Ibanic languages, and it differs sufficiently from standard Malay that people outside of Sarawak are generally unable to comprehend it without prior study.


The Bajaw, sometimes known as the "sea gipsies" of Maritime Southeast Asia, speak Bajau language. is often spoken by the people originating from Borneo and the Sulu Archipelago.

Sugut Dusun

Sugut Dusun is a widely spoken language among the Dusun or the Kadazan of Sabah, Malaysia. Central Dusun and Coastal Kadazan are widely considered to be mutually intelligible, and many people believe them to be part of the same language.

The central Bundu-Liwan dialect was chosen as the foundation for a standardised "Kadazan dusun" language in 1995, thanks to the efforts of the Kadazandusun Cultural Association Sabah. This dialect was chosen because it was thought to be the most mutually intelligible when chatting with other "Dusun" or "Kadazan" dialects when spoken in the valleys of the Crocker Range.


Melanau is an Austronesian language spoken along the coast of northwest Borneo's Rajang delta, in Sarawak, Malaysia, and Brunei.

Of course, a small proportion of the population speaks many more indigenous languages. Malaysians must learn more about languages and recognise the importance of preserving Malaysian culture in the globe to keep them alive because these indigenous languages are the key to Malaysia's diversity and beauty.

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