ᬪᬵᬱᬩᬮᬶ, ᬩᬲᬩᬮᬶ1
Bhāṣa Bali, Basa Bali1
Native toIndonesia
RegionBali, Nusa Penida, Lombok, Java
Native speakers
3.3 million (2000 census)[1]
Early form
Old Balinese
Latin script
Balinese script
Language codes
ISO 639-2ban
ISO 639-3ban
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This article contains Balinese alphabet. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Balinese characters.
Balinese language speaker
Balinese language speaker

Balinese 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,[2] Southern Sumatra, and Sulawesi.[3] Most Balinese speakers also know Indonesian. The Bali Cultural Agency estimated in 2011 that the number of people still using the Balinese language in their daily lives on the Bali Island is under 1 million. The language has been classified as "not endangered" by Glottolog.[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.


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.[4]


According to the 2000 census, Balinese language is being 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 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.[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.[3]


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]

Basic Vocabulary Comparison
English Balinese Indonesian
this niki, ene ini
that nika, ento itu
here deriki, dini sini
there derika, ditu sana, situ
what napi, ape apa
human manusa, jeleme manusia
man lanang, muani laki-laki, pria
woman luh, lua perempuan, wanita
to live idup hidup
to eat ngajeng makan
to drink nginem minum
big ageng, gede besar, gede
pretty jegeg cantik
new anyar baru
lake danu danau


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 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.


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.


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 scriptNote: The script is arranged in Javanese order.
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.[9]

Few people today are familiar with the Balinese script.[10] 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.[11]



^1 In Balinese script, Sanskrit and Kawi loanwords have 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


  1. ^ Balinese at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Ethnologue.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ a b "Glottolog 4.3 - Balinese". Retrieved 2021-04-27.
  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". Retrieved 2021-04-09.
  9. ^ Beratha, Ni Luh Sutjiati (1992). Evolution of Verbal Morphology in Balinese (PhD thesis). Australian National University. doi:10.25911/5d7786429c1ff. hdl:1885/109364.
  10. ^ "Balinese (Basa Bali)". Omniglot. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  11. ^ Eiseman, Fred B., Jr. "The Balinese Languages". Bali Vision. Archived from the original on 2010-08-19.