Worried about a language barrier? There’s no need to worry as most Malaysians are multi-lingual. The national language is of course Bahasa Melayu but English is widely used amongst the educated locals as well as those working in the service industry. Other languages spoken include Mandarin, Cantonese, Tamil, Hokkien and many more.
English is widely used especially in Kuala Lumpur. With the entrance of multi national corporations and the in flux of tourists from all over the world, Malaysians have recognized that the English language is an important tool for both business and tourism.
Being a multi racial country has its perks. Besides having diverse culture, Malaysians also speak many languages. The media is a good example of the wide variety of languages that is used in Malaysia. There are TV channels in Bahasa Melayu, English, Mandarin, Tamil (Malaysia’s four main languages) and TV shows that are in Cantonese, Korean, Japanese and many other international languages. Daily newspapers and magazines in the four main languages can be acquired at every news stand.
So if you’re worried about being lost in a place where you don’t speak or understand the language, fret no more. You might meet someone who doesn’t speak English but that is rare. The general Malaysian population has some sort of grasp of the English language, even if it is just a small grasp.
Here are some basic phrases that might be useful during your trip to Malaysia.
Good morning – Selamat pagi
Good afternoon – Selamat petang
Good night – Selamat malam
Thank you – Terima kasih
Your welcome – Sama-sama
Goodbye – Selamat tinggal
How are you? - Apa khabar?
I do not understand – Saya tidak faham
I do not know – Saya tidak tahu
Sorry – Minta maaf
Please help me – Minta tolong (tolong on its own is a plea for help)