ᬪᬵᬱᬩᬮᬶ / ᬩᬲᬩᬮᬶ1
Bhāṣa Bali / Basä bali1
Native toIndonesia
RegionBali, Nusa Penida, Lombok, Java
Native speakers
3.3 million (2000 census)[1]
Early form
Old Balinese
  • Highland Balinese
    Lowland Balinese
    Nusa Penida Balinese[2]
Latin script
Balinese script
Official status
Regulated byBadan Pengembangan dan Pembinaan Bahasa
Language codes
ISO 639-2ban
ISO 639-3ban
   Balinese is a majority language where vast majority are first language speakers
   Balinese is a spoken language or being spoken as second language only
   Balinese is a minority language
Balinese Language in Lombok (Pink)
Languages map in Java island (Balinese language is marked by red)
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.
Balinese language speaker

Balinese is a Malayo-Polynesian language spoken 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 use Indonesian. The 2000 national census recorded 3.3 million people speakers of Balinese, however the Bali Cultural Agency estimated in 2011 that the number of people still using the Balinese language in their daily lives is under 1 million. The language has been classified as "not endangered" by Glottolog.[2]

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. Apart from being spoken in Bali, Balinese is also widely spoken on the island of Lombok, especially western part of Lombok island, and to a small extent it is also spoken on the island of Java, especially Banyuwangi. and western part of Sumbawa island. The spread of the Balinese language on these islands cannot be separated from the history between the islands.


Balinese is an Austronesian language belonging to the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the family. Within Malayo-Polynesian, it is part of the Bali–Sasak–Sumbawa subgroup.[5] Internally, Balinese has three distinct varieties; Highland Bali, Lowland Bali, and Nusa Penida.[2]


distribution map of the Balinese language in Bali and Java island (Red)
distribution map of the Balinese language in Lombok island (Pink)

According to the 2000 census, the Balinese language is spoken by 3.3 million people in Indonesia, mainly concentrated on the island of Bali and the surrounding areas.

In 2011, the Bali Cultural Agency estimated that the number of people still using the Balinese language in their daily lives on 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. However, 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.[6]



Balinese vowels
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-.[7]


Balinese consonants
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.[7]



Even though most of the basic vocabulary in Balinese and Indonesian are of Austronesian and Sanskrit origin, many cognates in both languages sound quite different.[8] 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 (specifically Old Javanese) which reflect the fifteenth-century usage spoken by Old Javanese. The common mutations in inherited Balinese words are:

However, these mutations are not expressed by the High Balinese, thus this infer high Balinese was loanwords from Sanskrit and (Old) Javanese. These loanwords are identical in sound with their Javanese cognates.[9]

Basic Vocabulary Comparison
English Low Balinese High Balinese Indonesian Old Javanese Javanese
this éné niki ini iki iki (ngoko), punika (krama)
that énto nika itu ika
here dini driki di sini
there ditu drikä di sana, di situ
what apä napi apa apa
human manusä, jelemä jadmä manusia jadma manungsa
hair bõk rambut rambut rambut rambut
fire api gni api gĕni geni
child pañak pianak, okä anak
to live idup urip hidup urip urip
to drink nginém nginém minum manginum
big gédé agéng besar, gede gĕḍe gedhé
new baru anyar baru (h)añar anyar
day wai rahinä hari rahina dina, dinten
sun matan ai suryä matahari surya ari
lake danu tlagä danau ranu tlaga
egg taluh taluh telur ĕṇḍog endhog (ngoko), tigan (krama)
friend timpal suwiträ teman kañca, mitra, sakhā kanca, kenalan, mitra
to sightsee mélali-lali malélancarañ tamasya
name adan parab,Wastan nama (h)aran, parab aran, jeneng (ngoko), wasta (krama), asma (krama inggil)
to be, to become dadi dados menjadi
to stay nongos meneng tinggal
from uling saking dari


Main article: Balinese numerals

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


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.[7]


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
Note: The script is arranged in Javanese order.

Main article: Balinese script

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 9th century AD.[10]

Few people today are familiar with the Balinese script.[11] The Balinese script is almost the same as the Javanese script.

Latin alphabet

Schools in Bali today teach a Latin alphabet known as Tulisan Bali.[12]



^1 In Balinese script, Sanskrit and Kawi loanwords tend use conservative orthography as standard form in Balinese script. The word for language, basa, in Balinese is a loanword from Old Javanese bhāṣa which came from the Sanskrit word भाषा bhāṣā, hence it is written according to Sanskrit and Old Javanese spelling ᬪᬵᬱᬩᬮᬶ in Balinese script. The Bali form in Balinese script is used by beginner writers. Meanwhile, diacritics are not written in the current romanization of the Balinese language. Thus, both Bali and basa Bali are the standard forms.

See also


  1. ^ Balinese at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c "Glottolog 4.3 - Balinese". Retrieved 2021-04-27.
  3. ^ Ethnologue.
  4. ^ a b Clynes, Adrian (1995). Topics in the Phonology and Morphosyntax of Balinese (PhD thesis). Australian National University. doi:10.25911/5d77865d38e15. hdl:1885/10744.
  5. ^ Adelaar, K. Alexander (2005). "The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar: a historical perspective". In Adelaar, K. Alexander; Himmelmann, Nikolaus (eds.). The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar. London: Routledge. pp. 1–42.
  6. ^ Ni Komang Erviani (March 30, 2012). "Balinese Language 'Will Never Die'". The Jakarta Post.
  7. ^ a b c Spitzing, Günter (2002). Practical Balinese: Phrasebook and Dictionary. Rutland VT: Tuttle Publishing. p. 22.
  8. ^ "√ Kamus Bahasa Bali Lengkap". 30 April 2019. Retrieved 2021-04-09.
  9. ^ Clynes, Adrian (1994-01-31), Dutton, Tom; Tryon, Darrell T. (eds.), "Old Javanese influence in Balinese: Balinese speech styles", Language Contact and Change in the Austronesian World, Berlin, New York: DE GRUYTER MOUTON, pp. 141–180, doi:10.1515/9783110883091.141, ISBN 978-3-11-088309-1, retrieved 2022-11-05
  10. ^ Beratha, Ni Luh Sutjiati (1992). Evolution of Verbal Morphology in Balinese (PhD thesis). Australian National University. doi:10.25911/5d7786429c1ff. hdl:1885/109364.
  11. ^ "Balinese (Basa Bali)". Omniglot. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  12. ^ Eiseman, Fred B. Jr. "The Balinese Languages". Bali Vision. Archived from the original on 2010-08-19.