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Malay - The King's Malay

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On 24th of April in Malaysia, we will be having a day off to commemorate the coronation of our new 5-year-king, Sultan Muhammad V of Kelantan as our king or sultan. For this joyous event, I'll be explaining the language of the royals in Malay.

Since many centuries ago, the Malay archipelago have a quite number of kingdoms and each of these kingdoms have their own monarch. Nowadays, there are only 4 countries who practice monarchy in Southeast Asia which are, Brunei, Cambodia, Malaysia and Thailand.

Uniquely in Malaysia, we have 9 kings instead of one and each king reigns over their own respective state in Malaysia. The king of Malaysia is called a:

  • سلطان / sultan

/sul.tan/ - sultan (king)

For the sultan's consort, we say:

  • ڤرمايسوري / permaisuri

/pər.mai.su.ri/ - queen

Since we have 9 kings in a country, every 5 years, a new king is elected from the 9 sultans as the King of Malaysia or formally called as:

  • يڠ دڤرتوان اݢوڠ / Yang di-Pertuan Agong

/jaŋ di.pər.tuan a.goŋ/ - Yang di-Pertuan Agong

Like some Asian languages, Malay is highly stressed on courtesy and honourific when speaking to a person. The royals speak differently to their subjects and so do vice versa. Let's go through some common words that is used in this royal language.

When comes to "makan", a king does not "makan". Instead, a king:

  • سنتڤ / santap

/san.tap/ - to eat (royalty)

Interestingly, there are also a language used by subjects like us when speaking in front of a royalty. Hence, to "makan" we say:

  • ايڤ / ayap

/a.jap/ - to eat (subject to royalty)

Whenever the sultan deliver a speech, the sultan addresses himself as:

  • بيت / beta

/be.ta/ - I, me (royalty)

You are receiving a medal of honour from the sultan. Hence, you address yourself as:

  • ڤاتيق / patik

/pa.tiʔ/ - I, me (subject to royalty)

Whenever facing a royalty, we do a:

  • سمبه / sembah

/səm.bah/ - similar to a bow

This sembah is used by placing your palms together and raise your hands to touch the forehead with a slight bow as a sign of respect to the monarch. This is a common protocol and etiquette when facing a royalty. This is also commonly seen in Thailand.

On the occasion, we will be hearing this common chant that we used in royal ceremonies which is:

  • دولة توانکو / daulat tuanku

/dau.lat tuan.ku/ - lit. may the king is joyful

The cry “Daulat Tuanku” is chanted meant to affirm the sacred power of the king or sultan of the day in a ceremony, or to pledge allegiance. This is also used when affirming a statement from the sultan.

Alternatively, we cry:

  • ديرݢهايو توانکو / dirgahayu tuanku

/dir.ga.ha.ju tuan.ku/ - long live the king

This is just a glimpse of the court (royal) language and I hope that you enjoy learning this special lesson.

Give me a feedback and comment if you have something like this in your language.

See you later in our next lesson.

Heres a rhymed traditional Malay poetry called pantun for this lesson:

،ايستان باݢيندا ترسرݢم اينده

،اڤابيلا برتيته ڤنوه برماده

،کواس يڠ تيڠݢي تياد دأينده

.برسام رعيت تتڤمرنده

Istana baginda tersergam indah,

Apabila bertitah penuh bermadah,

Kuasa yang tinggi tiada diendah,

Bersama rakyat tetap merendah.

His majesty's palace is big and grand,

Giving orders high in praise,

High in power without heedlessness,

Humbly together with his subjects.

Next: Prepositions


April 23, 2017



Very interesting. To what extent is Malay still written using the Arabic script?


The Arabic script is called Jawi and is still used as today in schools and religious stuff. It is the co-official script in Brunei and is used in Southern Thailand (Pattani) besides the Thai script. Despite all of that, the romanised version (Rumi) is still used widely.


Thanks again. Do I correctly understand from your post that in Pattani, Malay is written in the Thai script (in addition to Jawi and Rumi)?


Seems so based on the documentaries I watched. It seems like the government their prefer calling the Thai Malays as Thai Muslims rather than Malays. Perhaps this may be invalid for nowadays.


Information in general:

As a side note, Indonesian and Malay might have quite a lot in common


But e.g. Indonesian uses romanised script, Malay uses arabic script.

See also: https://www.quora.com/Should-I-learn-Indonesian-or-Malay


To my knowledge, Malay uses the Roman script too officially, at least in Malaysia and Singapore. Brunei and the southern Thai provinces are the only regions where the Jawi script is more prominent.


Terima kasih atas sumbangan anda!

~Vir pius sacrificat~

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