Published in 1812, this study of Malay in its written form was begun during William Marsden's service with the East India Company in Sumatra (1771–9). He continued his textual work in England upon his return, thus putting his practical knowledge into a solid scholarly frame. An expert in Asian languages and an outstanding Malay scholar in the English-speaking world, Marsden (1754–1836) was a fellow of the Royal Society from 1783 and later its vice-president and treasurer. This work is distinctive for its substantial Malay–English section, and for the use of examples from original Malay texts collected by the author. Despite being superseded by subsequent dictionaries, it is still a highly regarded and valuable source of information, especially about older, specialised and regional terms. The introduction provides the reader with a history of the Malayan language, including its spread, usage and regional variations.