Terengganu Malay
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Terengganu Malay
Terengganu Malay
Base Tranung
Bahasa Melayu Terengganu
? ?
Native toMalaysia, Indonesia
RegionTerengganu, Mersing and Tanjung Sedili (Johor), Kuantan (Pahang) and few villages in Natuna-Anambas (Indonesia)
Native speakers
1.1 million (2010)[]
DialectsCoastal Terengganu
Inland Terengganu
Latin script, Arabic Script (Jawi)
Language codes
None (mis)
zlm-coa (coastal)
 zlm-inl (inland)

Terengganu language (Malay: Bahasa Melayu Terengganu, Terengganu Malay: Base Tranung/Ganu) is a Malayan language spoken in the Malaysian state of Terengganu all the way southward to coastal Pahang and northeast Johor. It is historically spoken in the Anambas and Natuna islands of Riau Islands, Indonesia but its speakers (mostly elderly) are fastly diminishing and replaced by the local Malay dialects on the islands. It is the state's most dominant Malay variety and also acts as the main lingua franca for various ethnic groups within Terengganu (the Highly localised Peranakan Chinese minority in Terengganu, known as "Mek Awang" mainly use Terengganu Malay besides their native Hokkien). Although usually considered to be a variety of Malay, Terengganu Malay is one of the most aberrant from all the Malay varieties in the Peninsular along with Kelantan-Pattani Malay and developed a distinct phonetic, syntactic and lexical distinctions which makes it mutually unintelligible for speakers from outside the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia [1]. However, Terengganu Malay shares close linguistic relations with Kelantan-Pattani and Pahang varieties in which it forms the same Malay group of East Coast Peninsular Malayan languages[2]. These similarities often confused many people outside the region, which usually interchanged Terengganu Malay with those of Kelantan Malay even though there are major phonological and vocabulary differences between the two.

Despite being the majority language of the state, Terengganu Malay also coexists with two distinct but closely related Malay varieties as well. In the districts of Besut and Setiu, the majority of the population speak Kelantan-Pattani Malay which is closely related but distinct from Terengganu Malay although in recent years many people from southern Terengganu started to migrate into these districts and both variants coexists with each other [3]. In Hulu Terengganu, the variety of Malay spoken there is often regarded as a sub-dialect of Terengganu Malay but have distinct phonology and some parts of the vocabulary than those spoken in other parts of Terengganu which sometimes unintelligible to coastal speakers. Even within different villages in Hulu Terengganu, the variety exhibit some differences as well mostly in terms of phonology. The rest of Terengganu however uses the Coastal sub-dialect of Terengganu Malay but there also exists some minor differences in terms of vocabulary between each districts but still largely mutually intelligible. The sub-dialect spoken in the districts of Kuala Terengganu-Kuala Nerus is considered the standard dialect for inter-ethnic and inter-district communications.

Terengganu Malay is considered to be the most recognisable identity of the state. This can be seen in many local television dramas, movies as well as in both modern and traditional songs and poems which emphasizes the usage of Terengganu Malay.[4] Radio stations such as Terengganu FM and Hot FM Terengganu mainly used Terengganu Malay in its broadcast along with standard Malaysian. Recent years show an increase of awareness of the uniqueness of Terengganu Malay, such as the increasing use of Terengganu Malay in shop signs and recently the publication of Hulu Terengganu Malay dictionary [5]


The people of Terengganu usually referred to their language as Base/Bahse Tranung/Tghanung (/bahs? t?anu?/) which means 'the language of Terengganu' or Cakak Tranung (/t?aka? t?anu?/) which means 'Speaking Terengganuan'. In Standard Malay it is known as Bahasa Terengganu or Bahasa Melayu Terengganu (Dialek/Loghat Terengganu which means 'Terengganu dialect' is also widely used). The people of outside Terengganu often misunderstood that Terengganuans usually called themselves and their language as Ganu, the word Ganu is actually how the Kelantanese and the people of Besut in northern Terengganu pronounce Terengganu and is rarely used by southern Terengganuans (Southern Setiu to Kemaman) themselves. Besides Tranung and Ganu, the people of Terengganu sometimes use Ganung, Teganu and Teganung as well.


There are several theories on the origin of the name 'Terengganu'. One theory attributes the name's origin to terang ganu, Malay for 'bright rainbow'. Another story, said to have been originally narrated by the ninth Sultan of Terengganu, Baginda Omar, tells of a party of hunters from Pahang roving and hunting in the area of what is now southern Terengganu. One of the hunters spotted a big animal fang lying on the ground. A fellow party member asked to which animal did the fang belong. The hunter, not knowing which animal, simply answered taring anu (Malay: 'fang of something'). The party later returned to Pahang with a rich hoard of game, fur and sandalwood, which impressed their neighbours. They asked the hunters where did they source their riches, to which they replied, from the land of taring anu, which later evolved into Terengganu. Terengganu was called Trangkanu (Thai?) by the Siamese when it was under their influence.


Terengganu Malay is natively spoken in most parts of Terengganu (exclude Besut and Setiu). Besides Terengganu, it is also spoken in coastal Pahang, from Cherating near the border with Kemaman district to as far south as Mersing district in the state of Johor. A variety spoken in the village of Tanjung Sedili in the district of Kota Tinggi is said to be a mixture of Terengganuan, Johorean and several other Malay varieties, reflecting the historical demographic of the area, which once received migration from the Malays of Terengganu.


Terengganu Malay has two major dialects that is Coastal (zlm-coa) and Inland (zlm-inl) . A dialect spoken in Kuala Terengganu district are the de facto standard dialect of Terengganu Malay.[1] However, the most distinct of all dialects is Inland Terengganu Malay, spoken in Hulu Terengganu district, the Inland dialect have a distinct phonology compared to Coastal dialect, the most prominent is the pronunciation of the end letter "e", Coastal Terengganu speakers tend to pronounce it as a schwa while Inland Terengganu speakers tend to pronounce it with strong "e" (as in red) similar to Perak Tengah dialect. People in Setiu mostly speak a mixed Kelantanese-Terengganuan Malay due to its border between Besut which predominantly use Kelantan-Pattani Malay[6][7] and Kuala Terengganu which use the more prestige form of Terengganu Malay. People in Dungun, Marang and Kemaman usually speak similar to those in Kuala Terengganu but with influences from Standard Malay and Pahang Malay as well (especially Kemaman). The people of coastal Pahang and the district of Mersing in Johor also use a Coastal variety of Terengganu Malay but with influences from Johor Malay.

Comparison between Coastal and Inland dialects

Inland Terengganu Coastal Terengganu English
Ughaong/Ughang Oghang People
Kubo Kuba Buffalo
Balaik Balek Leave
Tubaik Tubek Out
Dime Deme You
Mume Mung You
Bayak Ghoyak Tell


Although essentially a spoken language with no standard orthography, Terengganu Malay is widely used in folk songs, poems, and also in mainstream and local media (such as local radio stations, dramas and movies). Ibrahim Taib, a famous Terengganu poet who was known for his usage of Inland Terengganu dialect in his poems such as "Mok, Aku Nok Tubaik" (Mom, I want to get out) and "Jadilah Awang" (enough Awang) can be considered a fine example of Terengganu Malay literature. The song Blues Tranung/Ganu Kite by a famous Malaysian band Iklim was a major hit song at that time and is sung wholly in Terengganu Malay. In 1999 song recorded by traditional singers Noraniza Idris and Siti Nurhaliza called Dondang Dendang composed by Suhaimi Mohd Zain, the bridge part of the song contains old-trengganuan malay poem. The song is influenced by rodat sound (Terengganu style of Malay zapin). Another band called Spring also recorded a song sung in Terengganuan called "Hati Mahu Baik".


Terengganu Malay has a distinct phonology and grammar compared to Standard Malay. The Grammatical order and Pronunciation is similar but also distinct to those of the neighbouring Pahang and Kelantanese Malay.[1]

Pronunciation /a/ followed by a nasal consonant changes to /?/ ayam ('chicken') becomes ayang; makan ? (to eat) becomes makang

/a/ at the end of syllables changes to // minta ('to ask') becomes mitok

/ah/ changes /?h/ rumah ? ('house') becomes rumoh

/a/ changes to /?/ saya ('I') becomes saye

/i/ changes to /i?/ sini ? ('here') becomes sining

/ua/ changes to /?/ buaya ('crocodile') becomes boye

/aj/ becomes /a:/ sungai ('river') becomes sunga

/aw/ becomes /a/ pisau ('knife') changes to pisa

/ia/ before a nasal vowel changes to = /ija?/ siam ? ('Siam') becomes siyang

/ia/ changes to /?/ biasa ('once') becomes bese

/s/ and /f/ at the end of syllables changes to /h/ malas ? ('lazy') changes to malah

/m/ and /n/ at the end of syllables changes to /?/ hakim (judge) changes to hakeng

/r/ changes to /?/ orang ? ('person') becomes oghang

final consonants are often only pronounced as a glottal stop. bukit ('hill') becomes buke' (buki?) words are distinguished between lengthened initial consonant

final /l/ are silent. example: tinggal ('left') becomes tingga, tebal ('thick') becomes teba usually /l/ as in /lah/ are removed and became /ah/. example: Banyaklah ('so many') becomes banyok ah.

bulang ('moon') vs. b:ulang ('many months'); katok ('to strike') vs. k:atok ('frog'); siku ('elbow') vs. s:iku ('hand tool')


Several comparisons between Standard Malay and Terengganu Malay with English translations:

Standard Malay Terengganu Malay English
Saya Ambe/aku/saye/kite/oghang I/me
Anda/Kamu Mung/Deme/Awok You
Siapa Piye Who
Suka Brehi/Brahi/Wahi Like/interest
Ketawa Suke/Gelekek Laugh
Juga Ghetek/Jugok (often shorten it to just 'gok') Also
Kandang Gok Cage
Yang Hok That
Beritahu Kabo/Royak To tell
Tak nak Tak Mboh Do not want
Tidur Tido/Jeretoh Sleep
Apa Nape/Mende What
Degil Babey/Gong/Kerah Keng Stubborn
Selalu Sokmo Always
Duit/Wang Pitih/Yya/Ghiya Money
Kenapa Bakpe Why
Tidak Dok No
Ya Ho/Ye Yes
Jambatan Ghetok Bridge
Garang Bekeng Pugnacious
Apa Khabar Ape Kabo/Guane Gamok How are you?
Tangkap Tagak/Igak Catch
Ejek Nyenyeh/Nganjing Insulting
Naik angin Mmusang Angry
Dia Ye/Nye They
Leka Ghalik Preoccupied
Letih Dok ghok Tired
Beg Plastik Supik/Jabir Plastic Bag
Kawan Saing Friend
Sempat Dang Make it
Berani Nellang/Tebeng Brave
Kerap Keghek Many times
Azan Bang Adhan (Islamic call to prayer)
Jangan Doksoh/Soh Beng Do not
Kedekut Kupik Stingy
Biar Lok Let
Cuba Ce/Tra Try
Sekarang Lening Today
Keluar Tubek Out
Ais Ping Ice (refers to ice cubes in water)
Tolong Tulong Help
Letak Letok/Skung Put
Buang Tohok Throw away
Panjat Khabak/Kabak Climb
Lempar Lepo/Plekong/Petong Throw
Sampai Sapa Arrive
Nanti Kekgi Later
Berjalan-jalan, Bersiar-siar Derak, Doktong, Liwo-liwo Stroll, Trip, Travel


Standard Malay Terengganu Malay English
Sangat Putih Puteh Lepuk/Sepuk Very White
Sangat Hitam Itang Beletung/Belegang Very Dark
Sangat Merah Meroh Nyale/Merang Very Red
Sangat Kuning Kuning Sio Very Yellow
Sangat Busuk Busuk Kohong/Hapok Very Smelly
Sangat Hancing Hacing Pering Very Stenchy
Sangat Hanyir Hanyir Mekok Very Fishy
Sangat Wangi Wangi Mekok Very Fragant
Sangat Tengik Tengik Bango Very Rancid
Sangat Masin Masing Pekok/Rebing Very Salty
Sangat Manis Manih Letting Very Sweet
Sangat Tawar Tawo Hebe Very Tasteless
Sangat Pahit Pahik Lepang Very Bitter
Sangat Masam Masang Rebang Very Sour


Numerals in Terengganu Malay is closely related to those of neighbouring Kelantanese Malay, however it differs in terms of pronunciation especially the end letter.

Standard Malay Terengganu Malay English
Satu Se One
Dua Duwe Two
Tiga Tige Three
Empat Pak Four
Lima Lime Five
Enam Nang Six
Tujuh Tujoh Seven
Lapan Lapang Eight
Sembilan Smilang/Mmilang Nine
Sepuluh Spuloh/Ppuloh Ten
Seratus Sratoh One Hundred
Seribu Sribu One Thousand
Sejuta Sjuta One Million


Terengganu Malay also had distinct words for some animals, mostly in terms of pronunciation.

Standard Malay Terengganu Malay English
Ayam Ayang Chicken
Buaya Boye Crocodile
Ikan Tongkol Ikang Aye Euthynnus affinis
Ikan Cencaru Ikang Kerah Ekor Torpedo scad
Ikan Pelaga Ikang Sekila/Skila Fighting Fish
Labah-labah Llabe Spider
Lintah Litoh Slug
Ketam Ketang Crab
Kerbau Kuba/Kubo (in Inland Terengganu) Buffalo
Kumbang Kkabo Beetle
Semut Merah Semuk Gata Fire Ant
Ular Ulo Snake
Harimau Rima Tiger
Singa Singer Lion
Lipas Lipah Cockroach
Gajah Ghajoh Elephant
Burung Helang Burong Lang Eagle
Biawak Bewok Monitor Lizard
Tupai Tupa Squirrel
Katak Katok(not to mistaken with another same Terengganuan word, which means 'to strike') Frog
Kelekatu Katu Termite Alates
Anai-Anai Ana-Ana Termite
Sotong Sutong Squid
Kura-kura Kure Tortoise/Turtle

Some notable Terengganuan phrases

"starang baroh" means "really"... a popular phrase used when you want to show or express something that is really serious or true.

Ambe dok tau starang baroh

As opposed to Standard Malay or West coast Malay dialects:-

Saya memang tak tahu langsung

Another famous Terengganuan Malay phrases that have been used by Terengganu people is "Senyung sokmo" which mean "Senyum selalu" in standard Malay and "Smile always" in English. It is widely used by Terengganu people to wish other people well and to brighten their days.

Sample Text

Terengganu Malay:

Budok-budok lening koho dok kena makanang tradisi, sohbeng kate kuey, nasik pong ttuko bimbo lagi, nok wak guane makanang lening modeng blake, oghang mude tak mboh belajo duk ngarak ke oghang tue sokmo.


Budak-budak sekarang semakin tak kenal makanan tradisi, jangan kata kuih, nasi pun masih tertukar lagi, nak buat macam mana makanan sekarang semua moden, orang muda tak nak belajar selalu mengharap ke orang-orang tua.


Kids today don't know about traditional foods, it's not just traditional cakes, even the rice as well, what can we do all foods these days are modern, younger generations don't want to learn always rely on their elderlies.


  1. ^ a b c Slideshare.net https://www.ethnologue.com/language/zlm. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ Slideshare.net (PDF) http://www.sabrizain.org/malaya/library/dialectresearch.pdf. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ Slideshare.net http://padredeumares.blogspot.my/2013/07/besut-bumi-pertautan-dua-budaya.html. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "Kajian dialek TRENGGANU". Slideshare.net. 2013-01-14. Retrieved .
  5. ^ http://www.teganukita.net/2017/07/glosari-dialek-hulu-terengganu-dibukukan.html. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ Rencana (2013-07-14). "Orang Besut: Anak Terengganu, Kelantan Pelihara? - Mohd Izzuddin Ramli". The Malaysian Insider. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved .
  7. ^ "Profil Daerah : JPS Daerah Besut" (PDF). Apps.water.gov.my. Retrieved .

External links

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