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Indonesian vs Malaysian (Bahasa Indonesia vs Bahasa Melayu)

I'm torn, because the two main resources I use to learn languages (Duolingo and LingQ) either has just Indonesian or just Malaysian available. My problem is I'm primarily interested in Indonesian, but there's only so much time I'll spend on Duolingo before I want more interesting and challenging content. My question is, if I begin learning Indonesian here, then supplement it with Malaysian, would that greatly affect my speaking and comprehension abilities? Or can I get by speaking a bastardized Indonesian/Malaysian, since they are such closely related languages anyways? Does anyone have any experience with that? I did a similar thing when I first started learning Portuguese, and for a long time spoke a bastard Portunhol, being better able to separate the languages the more time I spent on each separately. Thanks for the help everybody!

August 24, 2018



ok, this is only my opionion, but i don't really recommend learning both at the same time, at least in the beginner or if you don't have real teacher to teach you.

I haven't finished the duolingo's indonesian course, but from what i learn from another course, usually we won't learn enough to level intermediate, especially it's a beta version with many unclear explanation.

I speak indonesian, but i can't really speak (or at least only make conversational sentence of) Melayu / Malaysian, but i understand if someone use Melayu, but i guess most of the time i will be guessing a lot.

I hope this help you


Indonesian and Malaysian are not really separate languages. In my opinion, they are just different registers of the same language.

I don't think learning beginner's materials from both would greatly impact you. But, I think nuances would start to occur once you reach an intermediate level.

I recommend giving it a go, if you personally find it too different, stick to Duolingo Indonesian.


I also would not recommend studying both at once. Learn on here, then move somewhere else for Indonesian. A new resource. Malay has many differences from Indonesian. For one, jeruk means pickle in Malay. I'd recommend avoiding contaminating your Indonesian with Malay if avoidable (unless you're like me, and planning on solely moving to Malay eventually)


I’ve also wondered about this. I primarily want to learn Malaysian but both Duolingo and Babbel have Indonesian. I’m hoping a project to add Malaysian would start here. Though there are differences I am guessing it would be a great start to use the core of Indonesian and have a native speaker replace and improve with native bahasa Malaysia.


Hey, I'm a native Malaysian and I very fluent in my Malay! I've been trying to start a Malay/Malaysian course on Duolingo. I have already applied to start a new course and I'm waiting for the reply. I hope I have the qualifications to do so and if I do, I hope it benefits others.


Duo's Bahasa Indonesia course is so enjoyable! Long ago (over 50 years) I had an introduction to 'Bazaar Malay' in Malaysian Borneo and as my wife and I still have family and friends in Malaysia and in Singapore I'm still interested. I already had a number of dictionaries and grammars, some quite heavyweight, though they were not so well thumbed before this course began in August as they are now. I've met less than a dozen words so far which are not in my 900 page English-Malay and Malay-English dictionary even if the first choice of word or precise meaning isn't always the same. The two countries have adopted almost identical spelling conventions. It's worth remembering that even within UK alone there are sometimes variations in our local choice between synonyms and some of my fellow Brits have accents to which I have to listen very carefully in order to understand. (They probably say the same.)

The other Duo course I'm working at every day is Spanish. I find the experience fascinating because the English language content is American English and I enjoy the differences between the way we express ourselves. Similarly the Spanish being taught reflects New World usage. I had already studied a bit of European Spanish academically so wasn't too surprised by the little differences.

One of my other projects is learning Italian through Duo though I'm temporarily taking a rest. I'm using both the Duo version taught in English and the Duo version taught in Spanish which is highly enjoyable.

If Duo were to start a Bahasa Malaysia course I should follow that too


I just received an email on Duolingo's 8th birthday and they have added a new Finland language course. If that's the case, Finish is similar to other Scandinavian countries languages and only spoken by 5 Million + citizens, can you make a Malaysia Language course which is spoken by almost 33 Million citizens and is also similar to Indonesian?

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