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Topics in Malay language

Tags: proselanguage


In Malay-speaking countries, kampung is a versatile word which translates to village.

In Malaysia this can refer to countryside living or a hometown visit - for example Japanese YouTubers going to a farm stay, attending a local event etc.

Kampung became the name of a breed of chicken: ; a restaurant review might say "these are kampung chickens" to clarify it is a smaller portion.

In a Singapore grocery, I saw a tray of "kampong eggs" alongside general, cage-free, and salted eggs. MessyWitchen describes a popular perception that these eggs come from rural, free-range chickens, but the only requirement is the kampung breed.
Mothership SG goes further and says that free-range chickens and eggs cannot exist in Singapore due to bird flu fears.
And in case you are looking at wild chickens, it's illegal to catch an animal in Singapore's parks.

Chew's Egg describes their kampung eggs as "laid by healthy Silkie chickens". That's another breed, which leaves me confused about what's making their eggs kampung?

Wiktionary breaks down more meanings in different regions. They also establish "kampung" as the origin of the English word "compound", which has different meaning between US and UK English.

Fully urbanized Singapore has the most variations, such as the term 'vertical kampung' for apartments with integrated living, and 'kampung spirit' for being neighborly. In my local area there were businesses 'Kampung Collection' and 'Five Star Kampung Chicken Rice'.

A privately-owned village within Singapore became a point of fascination as "the last kampong" - this has spawned enough interest that there's pushback against visiting without a guide.

There's also a dish nasi goreng kampung, which is a variation of fried rice and not the same as nasi goreng kambing which is goat.

In Khmer "kampung" is used for public docks, and sources disagree whether it's connected.


Based on the Malay word for "born-from", in this context it means a wave of immigrants who arrived in Southeast Asia around 200 years ago. In popular media it became associated with Chinese immigrants (on English Wikipedia, the "Peranakans" article was moved to "Peranakan Chinese" in the past two months).

Major props to Singapore's newly reopened Peranakan Museum, which starts with video interviews about identity including Peranakan Arab and Peranakan Indian viewpoints.
There are also (I think three?) homes in the Marine Parade neighborhood which are converted to private museums for Peranakan culture and artifacts. Someone knowledgeable should book tours and review all three.

Some sources credit Singapore's revived interest in Peranakan Chinese culture to the 2008 TV series The Little Nyonya, which returned for a remake in 2020–2021.

Beka Melayu

I didn't find a lot of info in English about this, so I'm going to go ahead and write this up as best I can.

Beka Melayu is an experimental / retrospective conlang of Malay language without borrowing from languages outside Austronesia. The result is mostly intelligible to Malay speakers because the changes are mostly descriptive or substitutions of loan words from Arabic, English, Portuguese, Japanese, and Dutch. "Beka" in the name goes untranslated by Google Translate but exists in dictionaries with classical Malay such as the Kamus Dewan.

The Movement

Beka Melayu is a recent concept online. Wiki cites a Wordpress post in 2017 as the origin:
This Twitter account has 7,000 followers and Tweets and responds to requests regularly

Other Twitter use here is discussing localized terms for republic ( or responding to the Indonesian wiki

As an outsider, it's unclear how to separate linguistic or hobbyist interest in this from a "purity movement". 2022 Quora question asks "Is the Malay language completely damaged?" due to loan words from other languages. I'm not sure whether this viewpoint is widespread enough to make an article on English Wikipedia, but FYI.

Where is the original Malay?

Beka Melayu hobbyists don't claim to be revealing strictly original word use, and they are open to creating words and phrases for new concepts.

Wiki indicates that the Malayic language family comes from west Borneo ( ).

Malay grew into its current form while it was the lingua franca of the Melaka kingdom ( ) and then Johor-Riau (the area of Malay Peninsula north of Singapore, and the Indonesian islands south).
This leads to additional weirdness such as the region's WikiTravel article saying "Riau Malay is regarded as the purest form of the Malay language".

Writing Systems

Today Malay is written with the Latin alphabet, with an orthography agreed on by Malaysia and Indonesia in 1972:

In the 1300s, Malay speakers adopted an adapted Arabic script known as Jawi (from "Java"). This reportedly remains popular in south Thailand, Brunei, and parts of Malaysia (it's on currency). From 1966 Jawi was a voluntary subject in Malaysian schools, but it became compulsory again in 2019 - with some protest from Tamil and Chinese schools.

In Indonesia, signs in Arabic script appear to be more popular in Aceh, the Riau Islands, and Baubau (where it is considered another script, Buri Wolio, for writing Wolio language).

In 2016–2017, a student and Esperanto hobbyist Adam Damario Prakasa made a new alphabet Aksara Beringin for Bahasa Indonesia. In his document on the Internet Archive ( ), he describes starting with the USB symbol and an idea of an alphabet for a fictional world. He says it was 2020 when "the Malay language purism movement" adapted their script, Surat Beringin:

Tweets suggest that Surat Beringin appeared on Omniglot in 2021. A new font was created for it last month, so there's continuing interest