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Perak Malay

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Perak Malay

Perak Malay
بهاس ملايو ﭬﻴـراق
Bahasa Melayu Perak
Native to Malaysia
Region Perak
Ethnicity Perakian Malays
Native speakers
1.4 million (2010 census)[1]
Latin (Malay alphabet)
Arabic (Jawi)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Linguist list
Glottolog None

Perak Malay (Standard Malay: Bahasa Melayu Perak; Jawi script: بهاس ملايو ﭬﻴـراق) is one of the Malay dialects spoken within the state of Perak, Malaysia. Although it is neither the official language nor the standard dialect in the whole state of Perak, its existence which co-exists with other major dialects in the state of Perak still plays an important role in maintaining the identity of Perak. In spite of the fact that there are five main dialects traditionally spoken in Perak, only one of which is intended by the name "Perak Malay".[2][3] There are subtle phonetic, syntactic and lexical distinctions from other major Malay dialects. Perak Malay can be divided into two sub-dialects, Kuala Kangsar and Perak Tengah, named after the daerah (districts) where they are predominantly spoken.[4]


  • Classification 1
  • Distribution 2
  • Characteristics 3
    • Phonology 3.1
      • Open final syllables 3.1.1
      • Closed final syllables 3.1.2
      • Rhoticity 3.1.3
    • Vocabulary 3.2
      • Personal pronouns 3.2.1
      • Intensifiers 3.2.2
      • Animals 3.2.3
      • Fruits and plants 3.2.4
  • References 4
  • Bibliography 5


Linguistically, the Malay dialects spoken in the state of Perak are diverse. In fact, there is still no definite classification of the type of Malay dialects used in Perak. Ismail Hussein (1973) classified the Malay dialects in Perak into five types segregated into five different areas. While Harun Mat Piah (1983) categorized them into six. Although Asmah Haji Omar (1985) divided the Malay dialects in Perak into five types, the specifications of the division did not coincide with that of Ismail's.[5]


Daerah (districts) in Perak

Perak Malay is spoken throughout the whole state except in the northwestern parts of Perak (Kerian, Larut, Matang and Selama), and a few parts of Manjung district including Pangkor Island where the northern dialect is predominantly spoken.

In the northeastern part of Perak (Hulu Perak) and some parts of Selama and Kerian, the Malay people natively speak a distinct variant of Malay language which is most closely related to Kelantan-Pattani Malay and the Malay dialects of southern Thailand due to geographical borders and historical assimilation. This variant is occasionally classified as a sub-dialect of Yawi. The district of Hulu Perak once was ruled by the Sultanate of Reman. Reman was historically a part of Greater Pattani (which is now a province of Thailand) before gaining independence in 1810 from the Pattani Kingdom via a rebellion by the Royal Family.

While in the southern parts of Perak (Hilir Perak and Batang Padang) and also in the districts of Kampar and Kinta and several parts of Manjung, the dialect is heavily influenced by southern Malay dialects of the peninsula such as Selangor, Malacca and Johore-Riau Malay and various languages of Indonesian archipelago namely Javanese, Banjar, Rawa, Batak (Mandailing) and Buginese as a result of historical immigration, civil war such as Klang War and other inevitable factors.

Whilst there are many Malay dialects significantly found in Perak, all Malay dialectologists basically agreed that Perak Malay is spoken by the native Malay people who traditionally had long been subsisted along the riverine system of Perak which comprises Perak River valley except those at the upper stream.[6][7] Historically, it was a tradition for the Malay peasants in Perak to settle along the Perak River.[8] Royal residences also were built at various sites along the river basin, and there was never any attempt to move to another tributary.[9]



Open final syllables

It has been said that in general, the Malay people in Malaya distinguish the dialect of Perak by the final /-a/ vowel in Standard Malay substituted to [-ɛ], in contrast to [-o], [-ɔ], [-ɑ] and [-ə] in the other Malay dialects.[10] So as for the word mata (eye) which is shown by the phonemes /mata/ in Standard Malay, is pronounced as [matɛ] in Perak Malay notably in central Perak region. It appears that Perak Malay has a vowel raising rule which changes word final /-a/ vowel of Standard Malay to [-ɛ].[11][12]

Word Standard Malay Perak Malay Meaning
Perak Tengah Kuala Kangsar
Bota /bota/ [botɛ] [botə] Bota (a town in Perak)
mata /mata/ [matɛ] [matə] eye
kita /kita/ [kitɛ] [kitə] we, us, our (inclusive)
rupa /rupa/ [ʁopɛ] [ʁopə] look (noun)
kena /kəna/ [kənɛ] [kənə] to be subject to (passive voice), to contact with
kereta /kəreta/ [kəʁetɛ] [kəʁetə] car, cart

Exception of this rule occurs for some words as shown in the table below. This exception is regarded as common amongst most Malay dialects in the peninsula.

Word Standard Malay Perak Malay Meaning
Kinta /kinta/ [kinta] Kinta (a district in Perak)
merdeka /mərdeka/ [məɾdeka] independent
bola /bola/ [bola] ball
beca /betʃa/ [betʃa] trishaw
lawa /lawa/ [lawɐ] pretty, good
maha /maha/ [maha] very (adj.), the most (superlative)

As the prevalence of Perak Malay, the diphthongs presented by the graphemes -ai and -au are often articulated as varied forms of monophthongs. Still and all, diphthongization of monophthongs occurs in certain conditions instead. For instance, the final vowels sound /-i/ and /-u/ are articulated to some extent as diphthongs [-iy] and [-uw] respectively. The monophthongization patterns phonetically vary by the sub-dialects.

Word Standard Malay Perak Malay Meaning
Perak Tengah Kuala Kangsar
gulai /gulai̯/ [gulaː] [gulɛy] gulai (a traditional Malay cuisine)
kedai /kədai̯/ [kədaː] [kədɛy] shop, store (noun)
sampai /sampai̯/ [sampaː] [sampɛy] to arrive (verb), until (prep. and conj.), as far as (adverb)
risau /risau̯/ [ʁisaː] [ʁisɔː] to be worried
bangau /baŋau̯/ [baŋaː] [baŋɔː] stork
limau /limau̯/ [limaː] [limɔː] lime

The pattern /-ai̯/ transformed to [-] is particularly restricted to some areas within the district of Perak Tengah. Typically in most villages in Parit and southward to Bota, this pattern is applied. While in the sub-districts of Kampung Gajah and northward to Lambor, the speakers tend to utter in the similar form as in Kuala Kangsar sub-dialect.

Closed final syllables

There is a phonological rule in Perak Malay that neutralizes the final nasals to alveolar nasal.[13] The final nasals /-m/ and /-ŋ/ phonetically exist in certain environments. In other circumstances, the nasals are neutralized to [-n]. This neutralizing rule operates only if the final nasals are directly preceded by /i/ or /e/.[14] In addition, the [e] and [o] are allophones of /i/ and /u/ in closed final syllables in general Malaysian phonology.

Word Standard Malay Perak Malay Meaning
Taiping /taipiŋ/ [tɛpen] Taiping (a sub-district in Perak)
kering /kəriŋ/ [kəʁen] dry
bengkeng /beŋkeŋ/ [bɛŋken] fierce, livery, pugnacious
kirim /kirim/ [keʁen] to send, to post
musim /musim/ [musen] season
alim /alim/ [alen] pious


Most of Malay dialects particularly in Malaysia are non-rhotic. Perak Malay is one of non-rhotic variants of Malay language and the 'r' is guttural. In Perak Malay, if the 'r' appears in the initial and middle position of a word, it will be pronounced as French 'r' specifically voiced uvular fricative, [ʁ] but if it comes in the final position of a word and in a postvocalic setting, it will be dropped or deleted and then substituted into an open vowel; usually 'o' by affecting the open vowel preceding it.


Personal pronouns

Perak Malay differs lexically from Standard Malay for some personal pronouns. The suffix '-me' indicates plural pronoun. Possibly '-me' is derived from the word 'semua' that means 'all' in Malay.

Perak Malay Personal Pronouns
Type of pronoun Perak Malay Meaning
First person Singular teman (general),
awok (intimate),
keme (familiar),
aye (very polite),
aku (informal)
I, me
Plural keme (general),
temanme (rare)
we, us: they and me, s/he and me (exclusive)
kite we, us: you and me, you and us (inclusive)
Second person Singular mike (general),
kamu (familiar),
kome (intimate)
you, thou, thee
Plural kome (general),
you, y'all
Third person Singular die/diye,
deme (familiar)
he, she, him, her
Plural deme (general),
they, them

* Kuala Kangsar variant
** Influence of the northern dialect


Instead of using 'bebeno' or 'sangat' as intensifier for an adjective, Perak Malay speakers also use specific intensifiers for some adjectives.

Standard Malay Perak Malay Meaning
Sangat putih Puteh melepok Very white
Sangat hitam Itam bere/legam Very dark
Sangat merah Meghåh menyale Very red
Sangat busuk Busuk bango/melantong Very smelly
Sangat manis Maneh meleten Very sweet
Sangat tawar Tawo lesyo/besyo Very tasteless
Sangat masam Masam meghutuk Very sour
Sangat hangus Hangit pengit Very scorched
Sangat terik Panah/Paneh jantan Very hot (Sun)
Sangat panas Hangat pijo Very hot
Sangat sejuk Sejuk bedi Very cold
Sangat kurus Kuruih merehek Very thin (body)


Perak Malay also differs phonetically and lexically from Standard Malay for some animals.

Standard Malay Perak Malay Meaning
Anjing Anjen Dog
Buaya Boye Crocodile
Burung Boghong Bird
Cacing Cacen Worm
Cencurut Cencoghot Malayan shrew
Harimau Ghima/Ghimo Tiger
Ikan haruan/gabus Anåk maråk/meghåh,
Ikan bocat/bujuk,
Ikan bado
Snakehead murrel
Ikan temelian/tembelian Ikan temoleh Probarbus jullieni
Ikan tongkol Ikan kayu Euthynnus affinis
Kala jengking Kale lipit Scorpion
Kambing Kamben Goat
Kelekatu Mengkiok Winged caste of termite
Kerbau Koba/Keghobo Buffalo
Kerengga Kongge/Koghongge Weaver ant
Kucing Kucen Cat
Labi-labi Jelebo Softshell tortoise
Pepatung/Sesibur Cakcibo/Cikcibo Dragonfly
Pianggang Cenanga/Cenango Leptocoriza varicornis
Semut api Semut gata/gatey Fire ant
Ular Ulo Snake

Fruits and plants

Perak Malay has distinct names for specific fruits and plants. Some differ in pronunciation from Standard Malay.

Standard Malay Perak Malay Meaning
Cili Caba/Cabey Chili
Cili padi/api Caba/Cabey boghong Bird's eye chili
Durian Doyan/Deghoyan Durian
Durian belanda Doyan/Deghoyan mekåh Soursop
Kabung Kanto Sugar palm
Kedondong Amra Spondias dulcis
Kelapa Nyio Coconut
Kerdas Geduåk/Genuåk Archidendron bubalinum
Kuini Kuinen Fragrant mango
Limau bali Lima/Limo tambun Pomelo
Mangga Pelam/Mempelam Mango
Manggis Manggeh Mangosteen
Mencupu/Cerapu Ceghopu Garcinia prainiana
Petai Peta/Petey Parkia speciosa
Rambutan Mbutan/Ghombutan Rambutan
Tampoi Laghåh Baccaurea macrocarpa


  1. ^
  2. ^ Ismail Harun 1973
  3. ^ Asmah 1985
  4. ^ Asmah 1985
  5. ^ Ajid Che Kob 1997, p. 39
  6. ^ Zaharani 1991
  7. ^ Ajid Che Kob 1997, p. 39
  8. ^ McNair 1972
  9. ^ Andaya 1979
  10. ^ Zaharani 1991
  11. ^ Zaharani 1991
  12. ^ Ajid Che Kob 1997
  13. ^ Zaharani 1991
  14. ^ Ajid Che Kob 1997


  • Department of Statistics Malaysia (2010), Total population by ethnic group, mukim and state, Malaysia, 2010 - Perak (PDF) 
  • Asmah Omar (2008), Susur Galur Bahasa Melayu, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Kuala Lumpur,  
  • S. Nathesan (2001), Makna dalam Bahasa Melayu, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Kuala Lumpur,  
  • Cecilia Odé & Wim Stokhof (1997), Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Austronesian Linguistics, Rodopi B.V., Amsterdam - Atlanta,  
  • Asmah Haji Omar (1991), Bahasa Melayu abad ke 16 : satu analisis berdasarkan teks Melayu `Aqa'id al-Nasafi, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Kuala Lumpur 
  • Zaharani Ahmad (1991), The Phonology and Morphology of the Perak Dialect, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Kuala Lumpur 
  • Raja Mukhtaruddin bin Raja Mohd. Dain (1986), Dialek Perak, Yayasan Perak, Ipoh 
  • James T. Collins (1986), Antologi Kajian Dialek Melayu, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Kuala Lumpur 
  • Barbara Watson Andaya (1979), Perak, the Abode of Grace. A Study of an Eighteenth Century of Malay State, Oxford in Asia: Kuala Lumpur,  
  • Asmah Hj. Omar (1977), Kepelbagaian Fonologi Dialek-Dialek Melayu, Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka, Kuala Lumpur 
  • Charles Cuthbert Brown (1941), Perak Malay, The Federated Malay States Government Press, Kuala Lumpur 
  • John Frederick Adolphus McNair (1878), Perak and the Malays, Cornell University Library, New York,  
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