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Balinese language

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Title: Balinese language  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Javanese language, Bali–Sasak languages, Bali Aga, Njai, Bali
Collection: Balinese Culture, Balinese Language, Subject–verb–object Languages
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Balinese language

ᬩᬲᬩᬮᬶ (Basa Bali)
Region Bali, Nusa Penida, Lombok and Java, Indonesia
Native speakers
3.3 million  (2000 census)[1]
Latin, Balinese
Language codes
ISO 639-2 ban
ISO 639-3 ban
Glottolog bali1278[2]

Balinese or simply Bali is a Malayo-Polynesian language spoken by 3.3 million people (as of 2000) on the Indonesian island of Bali, as well as northern Nusa Penida, western Lombok and eastern Java.[3] Most Balinese speakers also know Indonesian.

In 2011, the Bali Cultural Agency estimates that the number of people still using Balinese language in their daily lives on the Bali Island does not exceed 1 million, as in urban areas their parents only introduce Indonesian language or even English, while daily conversations in the institutions and the mass media have disappeared. The written form of the Balinese language is increasingly unfamiliar and most Balinese people use the Balinese language only as a spoken tool with mixing of Indonesian language in their daily conversation. But in the transmigration areas outside Bali Island, Balinese language is extensively used and believed to play an important role in the survival of the language.[4]

The higher registers of the language borrow extensively from Javanese: an old form of classical Javanese, Kawi, is used in Bali as a religious and ceremonial language.


  • Phonology 1
    • Vowels 1.1
    • Consonants 1.2
    • Stress 1.3
  • Grammar 2
    • Registers 2.1
  • Numerals 3
  • Writing 4
    • Balinese script 4.1
    • Latin alphabet 4.2
  • References 5
  • External links 6



Front Central Back
High i u
Mid e ə o
Low a

The official spelling denotes both /a/ and /ə/ by a. However, a is usually pronounced [ə] when it ends a word, and [ə] occurs also in prefixes ma-, pa- and da-.[5]


Labial Dental Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Stop/Affricate p b t d k g
Fricative s h
j w
Trill r


Stress falls on the last syllable.[5]


The word order is similar to that of standard Indonesian, and verb and noun inflectional morphology is similarly minimal. However, derivational morphology is extensive, and suffixes are applied to indicate definite or indefinite articles, and optionally to indicate possession.[5]


Balinese has different registers depending on the relationship and status of those speaking: low (basa ketah), middle (basa madia), and high (basa singgih). Basa singgih contains many loanwords from Sanskrit and Javanese.


Balinese has a decimal numeral system, but this is complicated by numerous words for intermediate quantities such as 45, 175, and 1600.


Balinese has been written in two different writing systems: the Balinese script, and in modern times the Latin script.

Balinese script

Basic signs of the Balinese script

The Balinese script (Carakan) is an abugida, ultimately derived from the Brāhmī script of India. The earliest known inscriptions date from the 11th century AD.

Few people today are familiar with the Balinese script.[6] The Balinese Script is almost the same as Javanese script.

Latin alphabet

Schools in Bali today teach a Latin alphabet known as Tulisan Bali.[7]


  1. ^ Balinese at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Balinese". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Ethnologue.
  4. ^ "Balinese language ‘will never die’". March 30, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c Spitzing, Günter (2002). Practical Balinese: Phrasebook and Dictionary. Rutland VT: Tuttle Publishing. p. 22. 
  6. ^ Omniglot.
  7. ^ The Balinese Languages by Fred B Eiseman, Jr – Bali Vision

External links

  • Ager, Simon. "Balinese". Omniglot. Archived from the original on 9 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-07. 
  • The Balinese Digital Library.
  • Widiadana R. A. & Erviani N. K. (29 January 2011). Ancient ‘lontar’ manuscripts go digital. The Jakarta Post.
  • Erviani N. K. (14 January 2011). US scholar brings ancient Balinese scripts to digital age. The Jakarta Post.
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