Essential Phonics in Bahasa Malaysia
The Consonants

Generally the phonics of Malay language consonants resemble English.  However, when an English native speaker tries to speak bahasa Malaysia, we Malaysians can tell the difference without looking at their faces.  The explosions in the production of b.p,d,t,g,k and the frequently epic failure in the ng- ny- department are the first things Malaysians will notice.

In fact, "Consonants on the end of words are often silent," writes James Alexander.  Another author Michael Swan observes "...the infrequency of harsh combinations of unvoiced consonants...make Malay a smooth and sweet-sounding language,"


The most distinctively Malay phonics, are these two consonant phonemes NY and NG. All BM dummies must know them. Let's begin with:


It is a nasal palatal sound.

Combination of NY with Vowels:







I have to mention the Ubiquitous NYA

1. It is a suffix to emphasize.

Please click here to refer to a lesson on exclaiming with "nya"


Mahalnya! ( So expensive ! )

Murahnya! ( So cheap! )

2. It is the English equivalent of his/hers/its.

Please click here to refer to a lesson on his friend and her friend.~~


Teman wanitanya ( his girl friend )

Teman lelakinya ( her boy friend )

Ekornya ( its tail )

Dia punya

P.S. If you can't be bother with proper Malay, you can use " dia punya" to express his/her/its still, you need to use nya.~~



Pernahkah  anda  cuba  menyebut  "Apa khabar?" dengan tepat?  Biasanya saya dengar "Apa K-abar?", ataupun K-nya dibaca "lembut" sedikit.  Setahu saya, bahasa Indonesia ada pilihan "kh-abar" atau "k-abar".  Dalam bahasa Malaysia, setahu saya, kami tidak ada pilihan alternatif "k-abar".

Have you ever tried to say "How are you?" correctly?  Usually I hear "Apa k-abar?", or the K is softened a little.  As far as I know, Indonesian has the option of "Kh-abar" or "k-abar".  In Malaysia, as far as I know, we don't the the alternative option of "k-abar".

 Malay language and Sottish phonics share the same consonant sound in the form of "kh"

"KH" dikatakan sama dengan sebutan "lo-CH" bahasa Scotland.  Setelah memerhatikan bagaimana orang Scotland menunjukkan sebutan "lo-CH", saya sendiri walaupun dapat menyebut "lo-CH" dan "KH-abar" berasa tidak selesa meluahkannya di depan orang lain.  Sekurang-kurangnya di kampung halaman Sabah ini, tidak ramai orang yang bertutur sebegini.

"KH" is said to sound like Scottish "lo-CH".  After observing how a scot demonstrate the pronounciation of " lo-CH", though I myself is able to say "lo-CH" and "KH-abar", I feel akward saying them in front of other people.  At least not in my homeland of Sabah, not many people speak this way here.


"GH" ini lagi mencabar bagi dungu bahasa Perancis seperti saya. "GH", khabarnya, sama dengan "r" dalam bahasa Perancis.  Kalau "Ghaib" masih saya terucap, sampai gambungan dengan "i" dalam "baligh", nyaris saya terludah...

"GH" is more challenging for a French language idiot like me.  "GH", is said to sound the same as the French "R".  If it's "Gh-aib", I can still manage, when it's time to combine with "i" in the Malay word "baligh", I almost cough out phlegm...

  Foundation for both Malay language and French is "GH"


1. A Student's Reference Grammar of Modern Formal Indonesian  by Roderick Ross Macdonald, Soenjono Darjowidjojo

2. Learner English: A Teacher's Guide to Interference and Other Problems, Volume 1  by Michael Swan

3. Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore  by James Alexander

Return from the Most Distinctively Malay Consonant Phonics to Homepage

Berkabung untuk MH370 & MH17

More Reading exercise for consonant NY

For me, NG, is another essential consonant phoneme

Which words below are read with glottal stops?





F is considered a foreign phoneme borrowed from Arab long before English came into the Malay language speaking world.

Reference: Linguistik Am by Abdullah Hassan.