Utusan Malaysia, a mainstream newspaper publisher in Malaysia, published an article ( in Malay language) that claims that Malay language was a dominant and international language in 16th century. Straight from Google Translate

Dutch scholar Francois Valentijn reveal Malay niche in the 16th century as follows:

Their language, Malay, spoken not only in coastal areas, but also in the rest of the archipelago and in the countries of the East, as a language that is understood everywhere by everyone, just like French or Latin in Europe, or as a lingua franca in Italy and in the Levant. Really wide spread of the Malay language that is not possible if we understand we lost track, because the language is not only understood in Persia even farther from it, and just to the east up the Philippine archipelago.

One million dollar question: did Dutch scholar Francois Valentijn actually stay that? And if yes, where and when?

It should be noted that the Malaysians who know better often take Utusan's reporting and opinions with a grain of salt, not least because it has a long history of manipulating the facts to suit a certain agenda and and of even telling downright lies. But in this case, we should examine the claim on a case by case basis and forget for a moment whether Utusan is a trustworthy news outlet.

  • @jeroenk The claims seems to be about the Malay language in the 16th century, not about when Valentijn's book was published.
    – March Ho
    Jan 19, 2016 at 13:35

1 Answer 1


It was quoted from Amin Sweeney's "A Full Hearing: Orality and Literacy in the Malay World" (1987). Francois Valentijn was credited for translating the Bible into Ambon Malay, sometime during the 17th century.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .