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A different way to count in Malay

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Did you know that there is another way to count in Malay, instead of the usual satu-dua-tiga?


Some of you may have heard or read about Classical Malay, which is an older form of the language still seen in classic literature. The main differences between modern Malay and Classical Malay are:

  • spelling: numerous sounds were spelled differently, and sometimes the letter 'e' would be marked with different accents depending upon the sound used
  • style: sentences were often run-on, and began with conjunctive adverbs such as 'Maka' and 'Lalu'
  • vocabulary: many older words are present in Classical Malay texts that are no longer frequently used today.


Among these words fading from use in modern Malay are many Sanskrit terms, including Sanskrit numbers.


Below, we provide a brief outline of the first 5 Sanskrit numbers and where they are still present in the modern Malay vocabulary.




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