Help:IPA for Malay

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The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Malay (Malaysian and Indonesian) pronunciations in Wikipedia articles. See Malay phonology for a more thorough look at the sounds of Malay.

English approximations are in some cases very loose, and only intended to give a general idea of the pronunciation.

IPA Examples nearest English equivalent
b bola[1] beau
d dari[1] do
ð izin, zakar[2] the, father
jari job
f fikir, visa[3] festival
ɡ galah[4] gain
h habis, tokoh hat
j yakin, kaya yes
k kalah[1][4] sky
l lama clean
m makan moon
n nakal note
ŋ ngarai feeling
ɲ nyaman canyon
θ Selasa, salji, misal[2] think, three
p pola[1] spy
r raja, dari, pasar trilled 'r'[5]
s saya six
ʃ syak[3] shoe
t tari[1] sty
cari check
v visa[3] vision
w waktu, Jawa we
x khas[3] Scottish Loch
z zaman[3] zero
ʔ bapak [1][4]
IPA Examples nearest English equivalent
a ajar, buka[7][8] father
e serong, kare, pilih, yakin, kirim[9] clay[10]
ɛ pek, teh, bebek[11] festival
i bila, ini see
ɪ kirim[11] bin
o roda, toko, tujuh, rumput[9] sole[12]
ɔ pohon[11] sort
u upah, baru moon
ʊ rumput[11] foot
ə gelak, buka[7] taken, about

IPA Examples nearest English equivalent
au, [13] kalau[9] how
ai, [13] capai[9] bye
ei, [13] murbei survey (uncommon)
oi, [13] sepoi boy (uncommon)
ui, [13] fengsui Spanish muy (uncommon)

Other symbols
IPA Explanation
ˈ Primary stress
Placed before the stressed syllable[14]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 /p/, /t/, /k/ are unaspirated, as in the Romance languages, or as in English spy, sty, sky. In final position, they are unreleased [p̚, t̪̚, ʔ̚], with final k being a glottal stop. /b, d/ are also unreleased, and therefore devoiced, [p̚, t̚]. There is no liaison: they remain unreleased even when followed by a vowel, as in kulit ubi "potato skins", though they are pronounced as a normal medial consonant when followed by a suffix.
  2. 2.0 2.1 The dental fricatives [θ, ð] are found solely in Arabic loanwords, but the writing is not distinguished from the Arabic loanwords containing the [s, z] sounds and these sounds must be learned separately by the speakers.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 The fricatives [f, z, ʃ, x] are found in loanwords only. Some speakers pronounce orthographic ‹v› in loanwords as [v]; otherwise it is [f]. The fricative [z] can also be an allophone of /s/ before voiced consonants.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 The glottal stop [ʔ] is an allophone of /k/ and /ɡ/ in the coda: baik, bapak. It is also used between identical vowels in hiatus. Only a few words have this sound in the middle, e.g. bakso (meatballs). It may be represented by an apostrophe in Arabic derived words such as Al Qur'an.
  5. In traditional Malay areas, the rhotic consonant /r/ is realized as a velar or uvular fricative, [ɣ] or [ʁ], and elided word-finally. Elsewhere, including in Standard Indonesian, it is an alveolar tap [ɾ] or trill [r]. Its position relative to schwa is ambiguous: kertas "paper" may be pronounced [krəˈtas] or [kərəˈtas].
  6. The nasal consonants /m, n, ŋ, ɲ/ nasalize following vowels, and may nasalize a subsequent vowel if the intervening consonant is /h, j, w, ʔ/.
  7. 7.0 7.1 In Malaysian, word-final /a/ is often reduced to [ə].
  8. [ɑ] is an occasional allophone of /a/ after or before more carefully pronounced consonant from Arabic loanwords, example: qari [qɑri].
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 [e, o] are allophones of /i, u/ in native words, but have become established as distinct phonemes in English and Javanese loan words. The diphthongs /ai, au/, which only occur in open syllables, are often merged into [e, o], respectively, especially in Java.
  10. The Malay/Indonesian /e/ doesn't quite line up with any English vowel, though the nearest equivalents are the vowel of clay (for most English dialects) and the vowel of get. The Malay/Indonesian vowel is usually articulated at a point between the two.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 /e, i, o, u/ in Indonesian language have lax allophones [ɛ, ɪ, ɔ, ʊ] in closed final syllables, except that tense [i, u] occur in stressed syllables with a coda nasal, and lax [ɛ, ɔ] also occur in open syllables if the following syllable contains the same lax vowel.
  12. The Malay /o/ doesn't quite line up with any English vowel, though the nearest equivalents are the vowel of sole (for most English dialects) and the vowel of raw. The Malay/Indonesian vowel is usually articulated at a point between the two.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 Only occurs in Indonesian, not in Malay.
  14. Stress generally falls on the penultimate syllable. If that syllable contains a schwa [ə], stress shifts to the antepenult if there is one, and to the final syllable if there is not. Some suffixes are ignored for stress placement.