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Cia-Cia language

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Bahasa Ciacia
바하사 찌아찌아
بهاس چيا-چيا
Native toIndonesia
RegionBaubau, Buton Island, Southeast Sulawesi
Native speakers
79,000 (2005)[1]
Hangul (present)
Latin (present)
Gundhul (historical)
Language codes
ISO 639-3cia
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, also known as Buton or Butonese, is an Austronesian language spoken principally around the city of Baubau on the southern tip of Buton island, off the southeast coast of Sulawesi, in Indonesia.[2] It is written using the Latin and Hangul scripts.


As of 2005, there were 80,000 speakers of Cia-Cia,[1] many of whom also use Wolio, which is closely related to Cia-Cia, as well as Indonesian. 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 using the Latin script.[3][unreliable source?]

A student writing in Cia-Cia on a whiteboard, using the hangul script.

Cia-Cia has been privately taught to schoolchildren in the Hangul script since 2008. The students are also taught some basic Korean.[4] The program remained active as of 2023.[5]

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.[6]


The name of the language comes from the negator cia "no". It is also known as Buton, Butonese, Butung, and in Dutch Boetonees, 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.[7]

Dialects include Kaesabu, Sampolawa (Mambulu-Laporo), Wabula (with its subvarieties), and Masiri.[8] The Masiri dialect shows the greatest amount of vocabulary in common with the standard dialect.[1] The Pedalaman dialect uses gh—equivalent to r in other dialects—in native vocabulary, and r in loan words.[9][page needed]


Phonology according to Reve van den Berg (1991).[2]


Bilabial Alveolar Postalveolar Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Stop voiceless p t t͡ʃ k ʔ
prenasal vl. ᵐp ⁿt ᶮt͡ʃ ᵑk
voiced b d d͡ʒ ɡ
prenasal vd. ᵐb ⁿd ᵑɡ
implosive ɓ ɗ
Fricative s h
Approximant β l (j)
Trill (r) (ʁ)


  • /k/ is realized as a palatal affricate /c/ before high vowels /i/ and /u/
  • /r/ is either an alveolar trill /r/, or a voiced velar fricative /ɣ/ or uvular trill /ʁ/, depending on the dialect


Cia-cia has a common five-vowel system.[2][10]

Front Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a

/e, o/ may also be heard as open-mid [ɛ, ɔ].[2]


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.[citation needed]


In 2009, residents of the city of Baubau set about adopting Hangul, the script for the Korean language, to write Cia-Cia.[11]

The mayor consulted the Indonesian government on the possibility of making the writing system official.[12] However, the project encountered difficulties between the city of Baubau, the Hunminjeongeum Society, and the Seoul Metropolitan Government in 2011.[13] The King Sejong Institute, which had been established in Baubau in 2011 to teach Hangul to locals, abandoned its offices after a year of operation, in 2012;[14] it reopened them in 2022.[15] In December 2023, Agence France-Presse again published an article with interviews showcasing the Hangul effort.[5]

As of 2017, Hangul remains in use in schools and on local signs.[16]

In January 2020, the publication of the first Cia-Cia dictionary in Hangul was announced. It was published in 2022.[15][17][18][needs update]

Cia-Cia Latin alphabet[4][2]: 306 
Consonants Vowels
IPA Latin IPA Latin
/ɡ/ g /a/ a
/k/ k /e/ e
/n/ n /o/ o
/d/ d /u/ u
/ɗ/ dh /i/ i
/t/ t
/r ~ ʁ/ r~gh
/l/ l
/m/ m
/b/ b
/β/ v~w
/ɓ/ bh
/p/ p
/s/ s
/ŋ/ ng
// j
// c
/h/ h
Cia-Cia Hangul alphabet[citation needed]
Consonants[19] Vowels[10]
IPA Hangul IPA Hangul
/ɡ/ /a/
/k/ /e/
/n/ /o/
/d/ /u/
/ɗ/ /i/
/t/ (null)
/l/ [a]
  1. ^ ᄙ is not a separate letter. The medial /r/ and /l/ are distinguished by writing a single letter (ㄹ) for /r/ and double (ᄙ) for /l/. Double ㄹ must be written in two syllables. The final /l/ is written with a single letter ㄹ; for the final consonant /r/, the null vowel (ㅡ) is added. Null consonant and vowel letters (으) are added for initial /l/.[citation needed]



Cia-Cia, like Muna, has three sets of numerals: a free form, a prefixed form, and a reduplicated form.[2] The prefixed form is used before units of 10 (pulu), 100 (hacu), and 1,000 (riwu), and before classifiers and measure nouns. The reduplicated form is used after units of ten when counting. ompulu is an irregular exception.[2]

Latin Hangul
1 dise, ise 디세, 이세
2 rua, ghua 루아, 쿠아
3 tolu 똘루
4 pa'a 빠아
5 lima 을리마
6 no'o 노오
7 picu 삐쭈
8 walu, oalu ᄫᅡᆯ루, 오알루
9 siua 시우아
10 ompulu 옴뿔루
29 rua-pulu-po-picu 루아-뿔루-뽀-삐쭈
80 walu-pulu ᄫᅡᆯ루-뿔루


An example of the Hangul script, followed by the Latin alphabet and IPA:[21][22]

3R:third person realis 3IR:third person irrealis 3DO:third person direct object 3POS:third person possessive

VM:verbal marker

















































아디 세링 빨리 노논또 뗄레ᄫᅵ시. 아마노 노뽀옴바에 이아 나누몬또 뗄레ᄫᅵ시 꼴리에 노몰렝오.

Adi sering pali nononto televisi. Amano nopo'ombae ia nanumonto televisi kolie nomolengo.

aɗi seriŋ pali nononto teleβisi amano nopoʔomɓa.e i.a nanumonto teleβisi koli.e nomoleŋo.

Adi.NOM often very 3R-watch television. Father-3POS 3R-tell-3DO he 3IR-watch television don't 3R-VM-long

Adi often watches television. His father advises him not to watch too much TV.

Reve van den Berg (1991) provides a few more examples.[2]



  1. ^ a b c d e Cia-Cia at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i van den Berg, Rene (1991). "Preliminary notes on the Cia-Cia language (South Buton)". Excursies in Celebes (PDF). Leiden: KITLV. pp. 305–324.
  3. ^ Butonese – Orientation
  4. ^ a b Wright, Tom; Fairclough, Gordon (11 September 2009). "To Save Its Dying Tongue, Indonesian Isle Orders Out for Korean". The Wall Street Journal.
  5. ^ a b Anya, Agnes (20 December 2023). "Indigenous Indonesians use Korean letters to save dialect". The Japan Times (Agence France-Presse).
  6. ^ Noorduyn, J. 1991. "A critical survey of studies on the languages of Sulawesi" p. 131.
  7. ^ Noorduyn, J. 1991. "A critical survey of studies on the languages of Sulawesi" p. 130.
  8. ^ Donohue, Mark. 1999. "A grammar of Tukang Besi". p. 6.
  9. ^ La Yani Konisi; Ahid Hidayat (2001). Analisis kategori kata bahasa cia liwungau (Research report) (in Indonesian). Universitas Terbuka Kendari.
  10. ^ a b Dessiar, Achmad Rio (27 October 2021). "A Contrastive Study on Korean and Cia-Cia Language Vowels Based on an Acoustic Experiment". Jurnal Humaniora. 33 (3): 182. doi:10.22146/jh.68044.
  11. ^ "Southeast Sulawesi Tribe Using Korean Alphabet to Preserve Native Tongue". Jakarta Globe. Agence France-Presse. 6 August 2009. Archived from the original on 10 August 2009.
  12. ^ Lee Tae-hoon, "Hangeul didn't become Cia Cia's official writing", The Korea Times, 6 October 2010.
  13. ^ "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.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ a b So-hyun, Kim (2 April 2023). "[Hello Hangeul] Sharing the Korean alphabet with the world". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 5 January 2024.
  16. ^ "Wow... Ada Kampung Korea di Sulawesi Tenggara!" [Wow... There's a Korean village in Southeast Sulawesi] (in Indonesian). Kompas TV. 7 April 2017 – via YouTube.
  17. ^ "Indonesian Minority to Publish Hangul Dictionary to Preserve Ethnic Language". Korea Bizwire. 7 January 2020. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
  18. ^ Ryu, Il-Hyeong (6 January 2020). "표기문자 '한글' 채택한 인니 찌아찌아족 '언어사전' 첫 편찬" [First dictionary of the language of the Cia-Cia people in Indonesia that adopted Hangul to be compiled]. Yonhap News (in Korean). Archived from the original on 6 January 2020.
  19. ^ Wells, John (20 October 2009). "Cia-Cia". John Wells's phonetic blog. With one exception, the Cia-Cia phonemes can be mapped onto a subset of those of Korean and are therefore written the same way. The exception is the fricative /v/, which is not found in contemporary Korean, but for which Lee resurrected the obsolete hangul jamo (or Korean letter) ᄫ (U+112B). (ᄫ was used as a symbol for the voiced bilabial fricative.) The Cia-Cia implosives /ɓ/ and /ɗ/ are written with standard hangul jamo, as ㅍ and ㅌ. So the series /t, d, ɗ/ are written with the jamo that in Korean stand for /t*, t~d, th/ respectively, namely ㄸ, ㄷ, ㅌ.
  20. ^ Numbers in Austronesian languages
  21. ^ Yu, Jae-Yeon (6 August 2009). "印尼 소수민족, '한글' 공식 문자로 채택" [Hangul adopted as official alphabet of Indonesian minority group]. No Cut News (in Korean). Archived from the original on 15 November 2021.
  22. ^ Example is part of a textbook: Lee, Ho-Young; Hwang, Hyo-sung; Abidin (2009). 바하사 찌아찌아 1 [Bahasa Cia-Cia 1]. Hunmin jeongeum Society of Korea.


External links[edit]