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The Malayic languages are a branch of the Austronesian family. They include Malay, the national language of Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia; Minangkabau in central Sumatra; and Iban in northern Borneo.

Maritime Southeast Asia
Linguistic classificationAustronesian
Malayic languages.svg
The Malayic languages
The Ibanic languages (orange) are found mostly inland in western Kalimantan, perhaps the homeland of the Malayic peoples, and across Sarawak. The Malayan languages and Banjar (dark red) range from South Kalimantan (their homeland), across the Indragiri Hilir Sumatra and Kerian (Perak), Malay Peninsula, and throughout coastal Kalimantan. Banjar is the red area of the south coast of Borneo. The excluded area in northwest Kalimantan (between the orange and red) is the Land Dayak languages, which are not closely related.

It is thought that the homeland of the Malayic languages is in western Borneo, where the Ibanic languages remain. The Malayan branch represents a secondary dispersal, probably from central Sumatra but possibly also from Borneo.[2]

For some time there was confusion as to the placement of various languages called Dayak; it is now apparent that some of these are Malayic and some are not.[citation needed] The Malayic Dayak languages include Iban; the term Ibanic sometimes applies to the whole or sometimes to a smaller group of Sea Dayak peoples, or Ibanic proper. Other Dayak languages, called Land Dayak, are found in the northwest corner of Kalimantan, between Ibanic and Malayan.



Several of the Ibanic languages are also sometimes placed separately in Malayic.


Adelaar (1993) classifies the Malayic languages as follows.[3]

  • Proto-Malayic
    • Iban
    • (Main branch)
      • Standard Malay
      • Minangkabau
      • Middle Malay
      • Banjarese
      • Jakartanese (Betawi)
      • Others

Nothofer (1988), however, gives the following classification for the Malayic branch.

  • Proto-Malayic



Proto-Malayic has a total of 19 consonants and 4 vowels (Adelaar 1992:102).

Proto-Malayic Consonants
Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Plosive Voiceless p t[4] c k ʔ
Voiced b d ɟ ɡ
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Fricative s h
Liquid l ʀ
Approximant w y
Proto-Malayic Vowels
Height Front Central Back
Close i /i/ u /u/
Mid ə /ə/
Open a /a/

There are 2 diphthongs:

  • *-ay
  • *-aw


Proto-Malayic lexemes are mostly disyllabic, though some have one, three, or four syllables. Lexemes have the following syllable structure (Adelaar 1992:102):

  •  [C V (N)] [C V (N)] [C V (N)] C V C 
Note: C = consonant, V = vowel, N = nasal


  1. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Malayic". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. ^ The Austronesians: historical and comparative perspectives. Peter Bellwood, James J. Fox, Darrell Tryon. ANU E Press, 2006. ISBN 1-920942-85-8, ISBN 978-1-920942-85-4
  3. ^ Adelaar, K. Alexander. 1993. The Internal Classification of the Malayic Subgroup. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 56, No. 3 (1993), pp. 566-581.
  4. ^ /t/ is listed as dental by Adelaar (1992).


  • Adelaar, K. Alexander. 1992. Proto-Malayic: The Reconstruction of its Phonology and Parts of its Lexicon and Morphology. Pacific Linguistics, Series C, no. 119. Canberra: Dept. of Linguistics, Research School of Pacific Studies, the Australian National University.
  • Adelaar, K. Alexander. 1993. The Internal Classification of the Malayic Subgroup. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, Vol. 56, No. 3 (1993), pp. 566–581.
  • Nothofer, Bernd. 1975. The reconstruction of Proto-Malayo-Javanic. (Verhandelingen van het KITLV, 73.) The Hague: Nijhoff.
  • Nothofer, Bernd. 1988. "A discussion of two Austronesian subgroups: Proto-Malay and Proto-Malayic." In Mohd. Thani Ahmad and Zaini Mohamed Zain (eds.) 1988. Rekonstruksi dan cabang-cabang Bahasa Melayu induk, pp. 34–58. Siri monograf sejarah bahasa Melayu. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.