Embracing the Past, Present and Future of Bahasa Malaysia

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How has the national language evolved, and how will it continue to evolve? These are the questions that KATA KATA 2100 hopes Malaysians ask themselves during its month-long exhibit.

From its role as a regional lingua franca during the Malacca Sultanate to its present status as Malaysia’s national language, Bahasa Malaysia has evolved through exposure to different cultures over the centuries. It contains a rich mix of loan words borrowed from Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, Portuguese, English, Tamil and Chinese. The political and social dynamics it has experienced and evolved within have been earth-shaking – from Islamisation to colonisation, migrant settlement to Westernisation and now, modern technology.

Dr Mustafa Kamal Anuar, a fellow and head of Nusantara Studies at Penang Institute, notes that Bahasa Malaysia’s continuous evolvement is dependent on its ability to adopt and adapt to the terminology of other languages.


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