World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Malaysian Mandarin


Malaysian Mandarin

Malaysian Mandarin
mǎláixīyǎ zhōngwén
Region Malaysia
Native speakers
(this article does not contain any information regarding the number of speakers)
Official status
Official language in
Regulated by Chinese Language Standardisation Council of Malaysia
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog None

Malaysian Mandarin (simplified Chinese: 马来西亚中文; traditional Chinese: 馬來西亞中文; pinyin: Mǎláixīyà Zhōngwén) is a variety of Mandarin Chinese (官話) spoken in Malaysia by ethnic Chinese in Malaysia. Malaysian Chinese tend to perceive the Mandarin Chinese is a variation of Standard Mandarin (Putonghua); however, it is a Mandarin dialect in its own right. Its closest linguistic cousin is not Standard Mandarin, rather it is Singaporean Mandarin, the varety widely used in films like Tiger Woohoo 大日子(2010), Namewee's Nasi Lemak 2.0 and movies created by Singaporean movie director Jack Neo.

Malaysian Mandarin speakers seldom translate local terms or names to Mandarin when they speak. They would prefer to verbally use Malay place name in its original Malay pronunciation, for instance, even though the street name "Jalan Bukit Kepong" is written as 惹兰武吉甲洞 (rělán wǔjí jiǎdòng) in local Chinese printed media, the local Chinese almost never use "rělán wǔjí jiǎdòng" in daily conversations. There are exceptions of course, for example Taiping, since this name is derived from the Chinese language, when people mention this place when they speaking local Mandarin, they always use its Mandarin pronunciation, tàipíng, instead of using its Malay pronunciation, which sounds more like taipeng. Another examples is when a place's Chinese translation varied vastly with its native Malay name, for example: for Teluk Intan, Seremban and Kota Kinabalu, they are preferably referred respectively as ānsùn (安順) (which refers to "Teluk Anson", Teluk Intan's former colonial name), "fúróng" (芙蓉) and "yàbì" (亞庇).

In comparison with Chinese, Taiwanese or even Singaporean Mandarin, Malaysian Mandarin is clearly distinguished by its relatively tonally 'flat' sound as well as its extensive use of glottal stops and "rusheng". This results in a distinct "clipped" sound compared to other forms of Mandarin.


  • Demographics 1
  • Some differences between Malaysian Mandarin and Putonghua (Mandarin in China) 2
  • Early Ming and Qing immigrants 3
    • Examples 3.1
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


As of 2014 93% of ethnic Chinese families in Malaysia speak varieties of Chinese, which includes Mandarin.[1]

Some differences between Malaysian Mandarin and Putonghua (Mandarin in China)

  • Jalan Bukit Kepong – 惹兰武吉甲洞 rělán wǔjí jiǎdòng
  • Raja Abdullah – 拉惹亚都拉 lārě yàdūlā
  • Kuih Talam – 达兰糕 dálán gāo
  • Roti Canai – 印度煎饼 Yìndù jiānbǐng

Early Ming and Qing immigrants

The majority of ethnic Chinese people living in Malaysia came from China during the Ming and Qing dynasties, between the 15th and early 20th centuries. Earlier immigrants married Malays and assimilated to a larger extent than later waves of migrants - they form a distinct sub-ethnic group, known as the Peranakans and their descendants speak Malay.

The majority of immigrants were speakers of Hokkien (Min Nan), Cantonese, Hakka, Teochew, and Hainanese. In the 19th century, Qing immigrants to Malaya had no single common language and were mostly uneducated peasants, and they tended to cluster themselves according to the ethno-linguistic group, usually corresponding to their place of origin, and worked with relatives and other speakers of the same language. In 1879, according to Isabella Bird, a visitor to the tin mining boomtown of Taiping, Perak, "five dialects of Chinese are spoken, and Chinamen constantly communicate with each other in Malay, because they can't understand each other's Chinese".[2]

The Chinese languages spoken in Malaysia have over the years become localized (e.g. Penang Hokkien), as is apparent from the use of Malay and English loan words. Words from other Chinese languages are also injected, depending on the educational and cultural background of the speaker (see Education in Malaysia and Rojak language). Mandarin in Malaysia has also been localized, as a result of the influence of other Chinese variants spoken in Malaysia, rather than the Malay language. Loan words were discouraged in Mandarin instructions at local Chinese school and was regarded as mispronunciations.


  • Angela, 你们不是应该要拿那个 'form'(表格) 先, 然后才去四楼那个 'counter'(柜台) 的 meh(吗)?
  • 刚刚从 Penang (槟城) 回来, 那里的 traffic (交通) '死伯' (泉漳片闽南)够力,'敢敢'(竟然)跟你塞两个多小时 '那种', 现在 '讲真的' 我很 'Sian' 了.
  • 黑色 body 的那个跟它 '马是'(也是)一样的, 我看你们重 '砍' 了, 又.
  • Eh,你要不要我帮你叫CAB(计程车)?
  • 唉,讲到这件事我就'死伯' (泉漳片闽南)不爽。
  • 哇,你不sian(闷,烦)我都sian咯。

See also

Variants of Mandarin Chinese:


  1. ^ Saiful Bahri Kamaruddin. "Research Found Malaysian Chinese Do Not Give Due Attention To Bahasa Malaysia Usage" (Archive). National University of Malaysia. 27 May 2014. Retrieved on 11 March 2015. "She also found 93% of Malaysian families of Chinese origin speak Mandarin with many different combinations of dialects and currently 53% of the respondents speak Chinese dialects with their parents compared with 42% in 1970."
  2. ^ [The Encyclopedia of Malaysia: Languages & Literature by Prof. Dato' Dr Asmah Haji Omar (2004) ISBN 981-3018-52-6.]

External links

  • 马来西亚华语-南洋的北方官话方言
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.