Malaysian English

Flag of Malaysia.png
Life in Malaysia

Malaysian English (MyE), formally known as Malaysian Standard English (MySE), is a form of English used and spoken in Malaysia. While Malaysian English can encompass a range of English spoken in Malaysia, some consider to be it distinct from the colloquial form commonly called Manglish. According to the English Proficiency Index, the average level of English in Malaysia is B1 on the CEFR scale. Due to the lack of use of English and the lack of English medium schools (which were phased out after the 1969 race riots) to accommodate English speakers, the language has been in decline since the 1970s.


Malaysian English may be categorized into three levels: the acrolect, mesolect and basilect.[1][2] The acrolect is used by those with near-native level of proficiency in English, and only a relatively small percentage of Malaysians are fluent in it. The acrolect is internationally intelligible, and it is used for official purposes or formal occasions and written communications. It conforms to standard British English, but some words that are specific to Malaysia may be used.[3][4]

The mesolect is a localised form of English that is used by competent speakers of English or as an informal medium of communication between different ethnic groups of Malaysia. It may use some colloquial terms, and its grammar and syntax may show some deviations from standard English.[5]

The basilect is used very informally by those with limited proficiency and vocabulary in English, and it has features of an extended pidgin or creole with syntax that deviates substantially from Standard English.[5][4] The basilect may be hard to understand internationally, and it is often referred to as Manglish.[6]

As with other similar situations, a continuum exists between these three varieties, and speakers may code-switch between them, depending on context. Most professionals and other English-educated Malaysians speak mesolect English informally between themselves, but they may also use a basilect depending on the circumstances. All three varieties may be seen as part of Malaysian English,[7] but some prefer to see Malaysia English as a form distinct from the basilect Manglish, which tends to ignore English grammar,[8] while others may see the basilect as the "real" Malaysian English.[9] There is also no consensus on what Standard Malaysian English would be. Some regard the mesolect as substandard and a local dialect.[3]


Manglish refers to the colloquial, informal spoken form of pidgin English in Malaysia that some considered to be distinct from more "correct" forms of Malaysian English.[8] It exists in a wide variety of forms and primarily as a spoken form of English. It is the most common form of spoken English on the street, but it is discouraged in schools, where only Malaysian Standard English is taught. Its lexis is strongly influenced by local languages, with many non-English nouns and verbs commonly used, and it is significantly different grammatically from Standard English.[5] There are colloquialisms in English that are not common outside of Malaysia, which are also used colloquially as substitutes in other languages in Malaysia. In Manglish, Malay or Chinese grammatical structure may be used with English words, which is often done quite spontaneously, sometimes for comic effect.

Other Languages
Bahasa Indonesia: Bahasa Inggris Malaysia
Soomaaliga: Malaysian English