Initially I was rather dubious about buying this book as I wanted to learn as much Malay as possible and it seemed so small! I additionally purchased a CD & book set, but it is the compact Lonely Planet book which has been getting the most use. It is very easy to pick up and read, and as well as teaching the language, it has interesting comments on culture and history. Thoroughly recommended, and compact enough to take everywhere with you!
I bought this for my two week holiday in Borneo. It was really useful, especially as it's small enough to fit in my pocket. I successfully used it to order myself a vegetarian meal at the marketplace. My boyfriend, who refused to use the phrase book, tried to order a chicken dish and ended up with squid and prawns, a very funny moment. We found that many people did speak English in Kota Kinabalu, even in the marketplaces, and if they, personally, didn't then they often had a younger family member around who did. However, I do believe it's better to make the effort to speak their language and this book is a great start for learning. Our guide did tell us that there are many many languages spoken in Borneo among the tribes and that, but I believe that this phrasebook is the official national language, so will definitely help you in the cities.
This guide covers all the basics making your stay in Malaysia that little bit easier , as all basic and intermediate phases are covered. With a little luck you will be able to get food and drink and a roof over your head, and more importantly you will know how to order that all important pint of local beer, and know which foods not to eat.
Small, light, informative, easy to use. I did a 3 week tour up the west coast of the peninsula and it was just what I needed. Many Malays speak English, but they were surprised and delighted with my attempts to converse in Bahasa Malaysia. Comes in handy haggling for taxi prices too, as drivers seem to 'forget' English at this point...
It was interesting to read and it was a nice handy pocket size but my language skills were not really up to the challenge so I didn't make the best use of the book. It is very well laid out though and easy to find the phrases you are looking for. It also arrived on time and in mint conditon.
I bought it to see if it will help me to remember some words and phrases I learned years ago and I must say it is a good buy if you already have some knowledge but it will also help you if you just want to learn the basics.
Pleased with purchase as its very light and compact will fit in your back pocket has the most common lines like ordering food and the most important question how much? looking forward to using it on my travels
The phrasebook has evolved a long way since the first edition which I owned in the early 90s; though that might have been an Indonesian phrasebook (the languages are very similar). This edition (3rd) covers a vast ranges of topics with ample vocabulary. The two-way dictionary and a section on the essentials of Malay grammar are included.
My only gripe is the format, which is English, followed by the corresponding Malay phrase in Anglicised spelling, followed by Malay. Like Spanish, Malay is written phonetically. Anyone who has an average sized brain will easily be able to pronounce a Malay word from the way it is spelt. Therefore I am not convinced the pronunciation for each phrase and dictionary item in Anglicised spelling* is even necessary. I personally find Malay spelling easier to read than the superfluous Anglicised spelling they've used. At least it should have been shunted to the side of the page so you can ignore it.
* They call it a 'transliteration system', but normally that means representing words in an entirely different script.