Cia-Cia language

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Bahasa Ciacia
바하사 찌아찌아
Region Bau-Bau, Buton Island, Southeast Sulawesi
Native speakers
79,000 (2005)[1]
Hangul (present)
Gundhul (historical)
Latin (present)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 cia
Glottolog ciac1237[2]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Cia-Cia (Bahasa Ciacia), also known as Buton(ese), is an Austronesian language spoken principally around the town of Baubau on the southern tip of Buton Island off the southeast coast of Sulawesi in Indonesia.

In 2009, the language gained international media attention as the town of Baubau was teaching children to read and write Cia-Cia in Hangul, the Korean alphabet, and the mayor consulted the Indonesian government on the possibility of making the writing system official.[3] However, the project encountered difficulties between the city of Baubau, the Hunminjeongeum Society, and the Seoul Metropolitan Government in 2011,[4] and was abandoned in 2012.[5] As of 2017 it remains in use in schools and on local signs.[6]


As of 2005 there were 80,000 speakers.[1] Speakers also use Wolio, which is closely related to Cia-Cia, as well as Indonesian, the national language of Indonesia. Wolio is falling into disuse as a written language among the Cia-Cia, as it is written using the Arabic script and Indonesian is now taught in schools with the Latin script.[7]

Geographic distribution[edit]

Cia-Cia is spoken in Southeast Sulawesi, south Buton Island, Binongko Island, and Batu Atas Island.[1]

According to legend, Cia-Cia speakers on Binonko descend from Butonese troops sent by a Butonese Sultan.[8]


The name of the language comes from the negator cia "no". It is also known as Buton(ese), Butung, and in Dutch Boetoneezen, names it shares with Wolio, and as South Buton or Southern Butung.[1]


The language situation on the island of Buton is very complicated and not known in great detail.[9]

Dialects include Kaesabu, Sampolawa (Mambulu-Laporo), Wabula (with its subvarieties), and Masiri.[10] The Masiri dialect shows the greatest amount of vocabulary in common with the standard dialect.[1] Konisi & Hidayat discuss two dialects, Pesisir and Pedamalan; Pedamalan has gh in native words where Pesisir has r, but has r in loan words.


Cia-Cia was once written in a Jawi-like script, called Gundhul, based on Arabic with five additional consonant letters but no signs for vowels.

The Cia-Cia Latin alphabet[11]
Consonants g k n d dh t r~gh l m b v~w bh p s ng j c h
IPA /ɡ/ /k/ /n/ /ɗ/ /d/ /t/ /r ~ ʁ/ /l/ /m/ /ɓ/ /β/ /b/ /p/ /s/ /ʔ/ /ŋ/ /dʒ/ /tʃ/ /h/
Vowels a e o u i
IPA /a/ /e/ /o/ /u/ /i/

In 2009, residents of the town of Bau-Bau attempted to adopt Hangul, the script for the Korean language, as their script for writing Cia-Cia.[12]

The Cia-Cia Hangul alphabet
Consonants g k n d dh t r l m b v bh p s ng j c h
Vowels a e o u i (null)

An example of the proposed Hangul script:[13]

아디 세링 빨ᄙᅵ 노논또 뗄레ᄫᅵ시. 아마노 노뽀옴바에 이아 나누몬또 뗄레ᄫᅵ시 꼴리에 노몰렝오.
adi sering pali nononto televisi. amano nopo'ombae ia nanumonto televisi kolie nomolengo.


The numerals 1–10 are:

Numerals 1–10[14]
English one two three four five six seven eight nine ten
Romanization dise, ise rua, ghua tolu pa'a lima no'o picu walu, oalu siua ompulu


  • buri (bughi) "write"
  • pogau "chat"
  • baca'an "read"


  • ka'ana "home"
  • sigola "school"
  • sayor "vegetable"
  • boku "book"

Common phrases[edit]

  • Tarima kasi. "Thanks."
  • Indau miano Cia-Cia. "I am a Cia-Cia."
  • Indau pe'elu iso'o. "I love you."
  • Moapu isau. "Excuse me."
  • Umbe. "Yes."
  • Cia. "No."



  1. ^ a b c d e Cia-Cia at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Cia-Cia". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. 
  3. ^ Lee Tae-hoon, "Hangeul didn’t become Cia Cia’s official writing", Korea Times, 2010-10-06.
  4. ^ "Adoption of Hangeul by Indonesian Tribe Hits Snag". The Chosun Ilbo. 10 October 2011. Archived from the original on 13 December 2011. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  5. ^ Yi, Whan-woo (8 October 2012). "Sejong Institute withdrawal to leave Cia-Cia out in cold". The Korea Times. Archived from the original on 6 February 2017. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  6. ^ "Wow... Ada Kampung Korea di Sulawesi Tenggara!". KOMPASTV.
  7. ^ Butonese - Introduction
  8. ^ Noorduyn, J. 1991. "A critical survey of studies on the languages of Sulawesi" p. 131.
  9. ^ Noorduyn, J. 1991. "A critical survey of studies on the languages of Sulawesi" p. 130.
  10. ^ Donohue, Mark. 1999. "A grammar of Tukang Besi". p. 6.
  11. ^ slideshow
  12. ^ Agence France-Presse, "Southeast Sulawesi Tribe Using Korean Alphabet to Preserve Native Tongue Archived 10 August 2009 at the Wayback Machine.", Jakarta Globe, 2009 August 06
  13. ^ (in Korean) 印尼 소수민족, '한글' 공식 문자로 채택
  14. ^ Numbers in Austronesian languages


  • van den Berg, René. 1991. "Preliminary notes on the Cia-Cia language (South Buton)." In Harry A. Poeze and Pim Schoorl (eds.), Excursies in Celebes: Een bundel bijdragen bij het afscheid van J. Noorduyn als directeur-secretaris van het KITLV, 305-24. Leiden: KITLV.
  • Mustafa Abdullah. 1985. Struktur bahasa Cia-Cia. Proyek Penelitian Bahasa dan Sastra Indonesia dan Daerah Sulawesi Selatan, Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan.
  • Ho-Young Lee, Hyosung Hwang, Abidin. 2009. Bahasa Cia-Cia 1. Hunmin jeongeum Society of Korea.
  • (in Indonesian) Konisi & Hidayat, 2001, Analisis kategori kata bahasa cia liwungau

External links[edit]

Wow... Ada Kampung Korea di Sulawesi Tenggara