The charts below show the way in which the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) represents Malay (Malaysian and Indonesian) pronunciations in Wikipedia articles. See Malay language#Phonology for a more thorough look at the sounds of Malay.

English approximations are in some cases very loose, and only intended to give a general idea of the pronunciation.

IPA Examples nearest English equivalent
b bola [1] beau
d dari [1][2] do
jari [3] job
f fikir, visa [4] festival
ɡ galah [5] gain
h habis, tokoh [6] hat
j yakin, kaya yes
k kalah [1][5] sky
l lama clean
m makan moon
n nakal note
ŋ ngarai feeling
ɲ nyaman canyon
p pola [1] spy
r raja, dari, pasar trilled 'r' [7]
s saya six
ʃ syak [4] shoe
t tari [1] sty
cari [3] check
v visa [4] vision
w waktu, Jawa we
x khas [4]
z zaman [4] zero
ʔ bapak [1] [5][2]
Vowels [8]
IPA Examples nearest English equivalent
a ajar, buka[9] father
e serong, kare [10] clay[11]
ɛ teh, bebek [12] festival
i bila, ini see
ɪ kirim [12] bin
o roda, toko [10] sole
ɔ pohon [12] sort
u upah, baru moon
ʊ rumput [12] foot
ə gelak [9] about
au kalau [10] how
ai capai [10] bye
oi, ui sepoi boy (uncommon)
Other symbols
IPA Explanation
ˈ Primary stress
Placed before the stressed syllable [13]
  1. /p/, /t/, /k/ are unaspirated, as in the Romance languages, or as in English spy, sty, sky. In final position, they are unreleased [p̚, t̪̚, ʔ̚], with final k being a glottal stop. /b, d/ are also unreleased, and therefore devoiced, [p̚, t̚]. There is no liaison: they remain unreleased even when followed by a vowel, as in kulit ubi "potato skins", though they are pronounced as a normal medial consonant when followed by a suffix.
  2. /t/ is dental, as in French, whereas /d/ is alveolar as in English.
  3. /tʃ, dʒ/ are pronounced with the tip of the tongue further forward than in English (alveolar), and without the lip rounding of English.
  4. The fricatives [f, z, ʃ, x] are found in loanwords only. Some speakers pronounce orthographic ‹v› in loanwords as [v]; otherwise it is [f].
  5. The glottal stop [ʔ] is an allophone of /k/ and /ɡ/ in the coda: baik, bapak. It is also used between identical vowels in hiatus. Only a few words have this sound in the middle, e.g. bakso (meatballs). It may be represented by an apostrophe in Arabic derived words such as Al Qur'an.
  6. /h/ clearly pronounced between like vowels, as in Pahang. Elsewhere it is a very light sound, and is frequently silent, as in hutan ~ utan "forest", sahut ~ saut "answer". (It is not, however, dropped when initial from Arabic loans such as hakim "judge".) In dialects which retain final /h/, it may engage in liaison, as in sudah itu [suda hitu] "after that".
  7. In traditional Malay areas, the rhotic consonant /r/ is realized as a velar or uvular fricative, [ɣ] or [ʁ], and elided word-finally. Elsewhere, including in Standard Indonesian, it is an alveolar tap [ɾ] or trill [r]. Its position relative to schwa is ambiguous: kertas "paper" may be pronounced [krəˈtas] or [kərəˈtas].
  8. The nasal consonants /m, n, ŋ, ɲ/ nasalize following vowels, and may nasalize a subsequent vowel if the intervening consonant is /h, j, w, ʔ/.
  9. In Malaysian, word-final /a/ is often reduced to [ə].
  10. /e, o/ are allophones of /i, u/ in native words, but have become established as distinct phonemes in English and Javanese loan words. The diphthongs /ai, au/, which only occur in open syllables, are often merged into /e, o/, respectively, especially in Java.
  11. The Malay/Indonesian /e/ doesn't quite line up with any English vowel, though the nearest equivalents are the vowel of clay (for most English dialects) and the vowel of get. The Malay/Indonesian vowel is usually articulated at a point between the two.
  12. /e, i, o, u/ have lax allophones [ɛ, ɪ, ɔ, ʊ] in closed syllables, except that tense [i, u] occur in stressed syllables with a coda nasal, and laax [ɛ, ɔ] also occur in open syllables if the following syllable contains the same lax vowel.
  13. Stress generally falls on the penultimate syllable. If that syllable contains a schwa [ə], stress shifts to the antepenult if there is one, and to the final syllable if there is not. Some suffixes are ignored for stress placement.