Balinese language

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ᬪᬵᬱᬩᬮᬶ, ᬩᬲᬩᬮᬶ1
Bhāṣa Bali, Basa Bali1
Aksara Bali1.png
RegionBali, Nusa Penida, Lombok and Java, Indonesia
EthnicityBalinese, Bali Aga
Native speakers
3.3 million (2000 census)[1]
Early form
Old Balinese
Latin, Balinese
Language codes
ISO 639-2ban
ISO 639-3ban
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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, Eastern Java,[3] Southern Sumatra, and Sulawesi.[4] Most Balinese speakers also know Indonesian. Balinese itself is not mutually intelligible with Indonesian but may be understood by Javanese speakers after some exposure.[citation needed]

In 2011, the Bali Cultural Agency estimated that the number of people still using the Balinese language in their daily lives on the Bali Island does not exceed 1 million, as in urban areas their parents only introduce the Indonesian language or even English as a foreign language, 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 means of oral communication, often mixing it with Indonesian in their daily speech. But in the transmigration areas outside Bali Island, the Balinese language is extensively used and believed to play an important role in the survival of the language.[5]

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.



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-.[6]


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

Depending on dialect, the phoneme /t/ is realized as a voiceless alveolar or retroflex stop. This is in contrast with most other languages in western Indonesia (including Standard Indonesian), which have a dental /t/ patterning with an otherwise alveolar phoneme series.[4]


Stress falls on the last syllable.[6]


The word order is similar to that of 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.[6]


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[edit]

Basic signs of the Balinese script
Note: The script is arranged in Javanese order.

The Balinese script (Aksara Bali, ᬅᬓ᭄ᬱᬭᬩᬮᬶ), which is arranged as Hanacaraka (ᬳᬦᬘᬭᬓ), 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.[7] The Balinese script is almost the same as Javanese script.

Latin alphabet[edit]

Schools in Bali today teach a Latin alphabet known as Tulisan Bali.[8]



^1 In Balinese script, Sanskrit and Kawi loanword has different orthography than native words. The first Balinese script is influenced by orthography of Sanskrit and Kawi as word basa derives from the Sanskrit word भाषा bhāṣā. Meanwhile, diacritics is not written in current romanization of Balinese language. Thus, ᬪᬵᬱᬩᬮᬶ and basa Bali are the standard forms.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Balinese at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Balinese". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Ethnologue.
  4. ^ a b Clynes, Adrian (1995). Topics in the Phonology and Morphosyntax of Balinese (PhD). Australian National University.
  5. ^ "Balinese language 'will never die'". March 30, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c Spitzing, Günter (2002). Practical Balinese: Phrasebook and Dictionary. Rutland VT: Tuttle Publishing. p. 22.
  7. ^ Omniglot.
  8. ^ The Balinese Languages by Fred B Eiseman, Jr Archived 2012-03-31 at the Wayback Machine – Bali Vision

External links[edit]