Universiteit Leiden

nl en

PhD defence

Malayic varieties of Kelantan and Terengganu

  • J. Wu
Thursday 28 September 2023
Academy Building
Rapenburg 73
2311 GJ Leiden


  • Prof.dr. M.A.F. Klamer
  • dr. A. Adelaar (University Of Melbourne)
  • Prof.dr. T. Hoogervorst (State University Of Malang)


This dissertation examines the Malayic varieties spoken in Kelantan and Terengganu, two Malaysian states located on the northeast coast of the Malay Peninsula. It focuses on three varieties, namely Kelantan Malay, Coastal Terengganu Malay and Inland Terengganu Malay, all belonging to the Malayic subgroup within the Austronesian language family. On the basis of data gathered through linguistic fieldwork undertaken by the author, this dissertation provides the most comprehensive description of these languages to date and offers an analysis of their historical developments.

The three Malayic varieties under investigation display notable similarities in their phonological and morphosyntactic patterns, characterised by significant phonological and morphological reduction. Despite these common features, however, it is concluded that these varieties do not form a discrete subgroup within the Malayic languages. The common changes observed in their consonant systems must have followed distinct developments in the vowel systems. Furthermore, the morphological reduction was primarily driven by internal phonological changes, and no clear traces of substrate influences have been found.

It is proposed that Inland Terengganu Malay represents a separate variety, distinct from Kelantan Malay and Coastal Terengganu Malay. A two-wave migration pattern is suggested: speakers of Inland Terengganu Malay likely arrived in the region earlier, whereas the speakers of Kelantan Malay and Coastal Terengganu Malay arrived at a later stage.

PhD dissertations

Approximately one week after the defence, PhD dissertations by Leiden PhD students are available digitally through the Leiden Repository, that offers free access to these PhD dissertations. Please note that in some cases a dissertation may be under embargo temporarily and access to its full-text version will only be granted later.

Press enquiries (journalists only)

+31 (0)71 527 1521

General information

Beadle's Office
+31 71 527 7211

This website uses cookies.  More information.