Benefits of Arabic Vocabulary for Teaching Malay to Persian-speaking University Students

Kazuhito Uni
Malaysia France Institute University of Kuala Lumpur
Keywords: Arabic, etymology, Malay, Persian, semantic similarity


Arabic is one of the largest donor languages to Malay and Persian. This study explores the benefits of Arabic vocabulary in teaching Malay words of Arabic origin to Persian-speaking students using a vocabulary survey containing 40 Malay words of Arabic origin, most of which retain phonetic or semantic similarity in Persian. Participants were 20 native Persian-speaking students at a Malaysian university. Page 1 of the questionnaire demonstrated a list of 40 Malay words of Arabic origin and yes/no columns in order to verify participants’ prior knowledge. Page 2 demonstrated 40 Malay words followed by their etymologies, including multiple-choice questions in which participants selected the most appropriate meaning. Participants averaged 19.9 correct answers and 17.35 newly learned words. At a 5% level, a significant difference was observed in their scores before and after the explicit demonstration of the word origins (p = .000, t = 20.28). This study concludes that the proposed method to explicitly present Malay words of Arabic origin and their etymologies assist Persian-speaking students in learning basic Malay vocabulary.

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