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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.

In 2009, the language gained international media attention as the city 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.[2] However, the project encountered difficulties between the city of Baubau, the Hunminjeongeum Society, and the Seoul Metropolitan Government in 2011.[3] 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.[4] As of 2017, Hangul remains in use in schools and on local signs.[5] In 2020, the first Cia-Cia dictionary was announced. Written in Hangul, it is set to be published in 2023.[6]


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.[7][unreliable source?]

Geographic distribution

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

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, 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.[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] The Pedalaman dialect uses gh—equivalent to r in other dialects—in native vocabulary, and r in loan words.[11][page needed]


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Bilabial Alveolar Postalveolar Velar Uvular Glottal
Nasal m n ŋ
Stop voiceless p t t͡ʃ k ʔ
voiced b d d͡ʒ ɡ
implosive ɓ ɗ
Fricative s h
Approximant β l (j)
Trill (r) (ʁ)


Front Back
Close i u
Mid e o
Open a


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]

The Cia-Cia Latin alphabet[12]
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 city of Baubau set about adopting Hangul, the script for the Korean language, as their script for writing Cia-Cia.[13] In January 2020, the publication of the first Cia-Cia dictionary in Hangul was announced. Set to take three years to publish, it is expected to cost ₩15,000,000.[14][needs update]

The Cia-Cia Hangul alphabet[citation needed]
Consonants /ɡ/ /k/ /n/ /ɗ/ /d/ /t/ /r/ /l/ /m/ /ɓ/ /β/ /b/ /p/ /s/ /ʔ/ /ŋ/ /dʒ/ /tʃ/ /h/ /ʁ/
Hangul ᄙ*
Vowels /a/ /e/ /o/ /u/ /i/ (null)

* 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]

An example of the Hangul script, followed by Latin alphabet and IPA:[15]



































nomolengo.[original research?]

nomoleŋo[original research?]

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.[original research?]

aɗi seriŋ pali nononto teleβisi amano nopoʔomɓa.e i.a nanumonto teleβisi koli.e nomoleŋo[original research?]


Numerals 1–10[16][unreliable source?]
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
Hangul[original research] 디세, 이세 루아 똘루 빠아 을리마 노오 삐쭈 ᄫᅡᆯ루, 오알루 시우아 옴뿔루



  1. ^ a b c d e Cia-Cia at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Lee Tae-hoon, "Hangeul didn't become Cia Cia's official writing", The Korea Times, 6 October 2010.
  3. ^ "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.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ "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.
  6. ^ "Indonesian Minority to Publish Hangul Dictionary to Preserve Ethnic Language". Korea Bizwire. 7 January 2020. Retrieved 26 March 2023.
  7. ^ Butonese – Orientation
  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. ^ La Yani Konisi; Ahid Hidayat (2001). Analisis kategori kata bahasa cia liwungau (Research report) (in Indonesian). Universitas Terbuka Kendari.
  12. ^ Wright, Tom; Fairclough, Gordon (11 September 2009). "To Save Its Dying Tongue, Indonesian Isle Orders Out for Korean". The Wall Street Journal.
  13. ^ "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.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Numbers in Austronesian languages