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The modern Malay alphabet (in Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore, Tulisan Rumi, literally "Roman script" or "Roman writing", in Indonesia, "Tulisan Latin") consists of the 26 letters of the ISO basic Latin alphabet without any diacritics. It is the more common of the two alphabets used today to write the Malay language, the other being Jawi (a modified Arabic script). The Latin Malay alphabet is the official Malay script in Indonesia (as Indonesian), Malaysia (as Malaysian) and Singapore, while it is co-official with Jawi in Brunei.
Historically, various scripts such as Pallava, Kawi and Rencong were used to write Old Malay, until they were replaced by Jawi with the introduction of Islam. The arrival of European colonial powers brought the Latin alphabet to the Malay Archipelago.
As the Malay-speaking countries were divided between two colonial administrations (the Dutch and the British), two major different spelling orthographies were developed in the Dutch East Indies and British Malaya respectively, influenced by the orthographies of their respective colonial tongues. The Soewandi Spelling System (or the Republic Spelling System after independence), used in the Dutch East Indies and later in independent Indonesia until 1972, was based on the Dutch alphabet. In 1972, as part of the effort of harmonizing spelling differences between the two countries, Indonesia and Malaysia each adopted a spelling reform plan, called the Perfected Spelling System (Ejaan yang Disempurnakan) in Indonesia and the New Rumi Spelling (Ejaan Rumi Baharu) in Malaysia. Although the representations of speech sounds are now largely identical in the Indonesian and Malaysian varieties, a number of minor spelling differences remain.
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