• basê Kinci
  • basê Kincai
Pronunciationba.sə kiɲ.t͡ʃai̯
Native toIndonesia (Jambi, West Sumatra and Bengkulu)
Native speakers
254,125 (Jambi, 2000)[1]
  • Belui Air Hangat
  • Danau Kerinci
  • Gunung Kerinci
  • Gunung Raya
  • Pembantu Sungai Tutung
  • Sitinjau Laut
  • Sungai Penuh
Latin (Indonesian alphabet)
Language codes
ISO 639-3kvr
  Areas where the Kerinci language is predominantly spoken.
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.

The Kerinci language (basê Kinci or basê Kincai) is an Austronesian language primarily spoken by the Kerinci people in Sungai Penuh city, Kerinci Regency, and parts of Merangin and Bungo Regency in Jambi,[2] as well as several hamlets in Mukomuko Regency in Bengkulu.[3] This language is also spoken by the Kerinci diaspora in other regions of Indonesia, such as West Sumatra and Java; as well as outside Indonesia, such as in Negeri Sembilan and Selangor in Malaysia.[4][5] The total number of Kerinci language speakers is estimated to be around 250,000 in 2000.[1] As an Austronesian language from the Malay-Polynesian sub-group, the Kerinci language is also closely related to the Minangkabau and Jambi Malay languages.[6]

The Kerinci language exhibits very high diversity; it is estimated that there are 130 sub-dialects and seven main dialects, which are Gunung Raya dialect, Danau Kerinci dialect, Sitinjau Laut dialect, Sungai Penuh dialect, Pembantu Sungai Tutung dialect, Belui Air Hangat dialect, and Gunung Kerinci dialect.[7] Based on dialectometric calculations, the percentage difference between these seven dialects ranges from 51% to 65.50%. In comparison, the Kerinci language has a percentage difference ranging from 81% to 100% when compared to the Bengkulu and Minangkabau languages.[2]


The Kerinci language is one of the many varieties of the Malayic languages. Linguists believe that the Malay language—one of the varieties of the Malayic languages—originally derived from Proto-Malayic, which was spoken in the area stretching from West Kalimantan to the northern coast of Brunei around 1000 BCE. Its ancestor, Proto-Malayo-Polynesian, is estimated to have originated from Proto-Austronesian, which split around 2000 BCE due to the large-scale expansion of the Austronesian people into Maritime Southeast Asia from the island of Taiwan.[8]

The Kerinci language is a member of the Austronesian language family, which encompasses various languages in Southeast Asia, the Pacific Ocean, and as far as Madagascar, as well as some languages in mainland Asia. Uniquely, the Kerinci language also shares some phonemes with Austroasiatic languages.[9] The Malagasy language, Filipino, the indigenous languages of Taiwan, and Māori are also members of this language family. Although each language in this family is not mutually intelligible, their similarities are quite striking. Many basic words have remained almost unchanged from their common ancestor, Proto-Austronesian. There are numerous cognates found in basic words for kinship, health, body parts, and common animals. Even the words for numbers exhibit a remarkable level of similarity.[10]

The Kerinci language has a high degree of mutual intelligibility with the Minangkabau language. This is partly due to the historical fact that the Kerinci chiefdoms were once part of the Pagaruyung Kingdom's territory.[11]

Geographic distribution and usage

The Kerinci language is typically used by the Kerinci people who inhabit the Kerinci Highlands and its surrounding areas. Administratively, these areas are currently within the city of Sungai Penuh and Kerinci Regency, as well as parts of Merangin and Bungo Regency in Jambi. In Kerinci Regency, the Kerinci language is spoken in Pengasih Lama village in Bukitkerman district; Koto Tuo Ujung Pasir and Seleman village in Danau Kerinci district; Hiang Tinggi village in Sitinjau Laut district; Koto Lebu and Koto Lolo village in Pondong Tinggi district; Sungaiabu village in Kerinci district; Belui village in Air Hangat Timur district; as well as Mukai Tinggi and Sung Betung Ilir village in Gunung Kerinci district.[2] The Kerinci language is also spoken in small parts of neighboring West Sumatra and Bengkulu, specifically in South Solok Regency and Mukomuko Regency.[3] Additionally, the Kerinci people has also migrated to the Malay Peninsula since the 19th century.[12]

The Kerinci language stands as the predominant means of daily communication, effortlessly traversing both informal and formal settings throughout the region surrounding the Kerinci Valley. However, its predominant use is informal, while Indonesian serves as the lingua franca in governmental institutions, education, and interethnic communication. As Indonesian usage continues to expand, fueled by increasing educational opportunities, it has become increasingly commonplace for Kerinci speakers to engage in code-switching between Kerinci and Indonesian, and vice versa.

The Kerinci language continues to hold significant importance among its speakers in Kerinci Regency and the city of Sungai Penuh in Jambi. Additionally, the Kerinci language also serves as a supporter of the local culture of the Kerinci community.[13] The presence of the Kerinci language in the midst of a growing multilingual and multiethnic society due to migration from other parts of Indonesia poses its own challenges for Kerinci language speakers. They are starting to master many languages, which influences the Kerinci language. The presence of other languages is gradually eroding the Kerinci language.[14] In response, efforts have been made by the government to preserve the usage of the Kerinci language. In Sungai Penuh, it is compulsory for students to enroll in Kerinci language courses as part of the school curriculum.[7] Additionally, the Jambi provincial government has initiated training programs for teachers aimed at enhancing their understanding and teaching skills while promoting the use of the Kerinci language. These programs include instruction in writing and reading using the Incung script, composing and reciting poetry in Kerinci, storytelling, delivering speeches, writing short stories, traditional songs, and solo comedy performances, all conducted in the Kerinci language.[15]



Like other Malayic languages, vowels in the Kerinci language consists of /i/, /e/, /a/, /u/, and /o/, with some additional vowel: /ɛ/, /ɔ/ and /ə/.[16][17] The Kerinci language mostly follows the standard Indonesian orthography, with some notable exceptions. The table below illustrates the vowel chart of the Mukomuko language.[16][17]

Front Central Back
Close i u
Mid e ə o
Open-mid ɛ ɔ
Open a

Orthographic note: The sounds are represented orthographically by their symbols as above, except:


There are nineteen consonants in Kerinci, which are /p/, /b/, /m/, /w/, /t/, /d/, /r/, /n/, /s/, /l/, /c/, /j/, /ɲ/, /u/, /g/, /y,/, /ŋ/, /ʔ/ and /h/.[18][19] The table below illustrates the consonant chart of the Kerinci language.

Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosive/Affricate p b t d c j k ɡ ʔ
Fricative s h
Semivowel w y
Lateral l
Trill r

Orthographic note: The sounds are represented orthographically by their symbols as above, except:



  1. ^ a b "Badan Pusat Statistik". Retrieved 2021-12-26.
  2. ^ a b c Sugono, Dendy; Sasangka, S. S. T. Wisnu; Rivay, Ovi Soviaty (2017). Sugono, Dendy; Sasangka, S. S. T. Wisnu; Rivay, Ovi Soviaty (eds.). Bahasa dan peta bahasa di Indonesia (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Badan Pengembangan dan Pembinaan Bahasa, Kementerian Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan. p. 37.((cite book)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  3. ^ a b Aliana, Zainul Arifin; Ratnawati, Latifah; Suhardi; Martojo, Soedjiono (1993). Fonologi dan Morfologi Bahasa Muko-Muko [Phonology and Morphology of the Muko-Muko Language] (PDF) (in Indonesian). Jakarta: Language Development and Cultivation Center, Department of Education and Culture. ISBN 979-459--304-4.
  4. ^ "Ceramah Linguistik "Teka-Teki Bahasa Kerinci"" (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2021-12-27.
  5. ^ Between worlds : linguistic papers in memory of David John Prentice. K. Alexander Adelaar, D. J. Prentice, R. A. Blust, Australian National University. Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, the Australian National University. 2002. ISBN 0-85883-478-2. OCLC 51647238.((cite book)): CS1 maint: others (link)
  6. ^ Sholeha, Monica; Hendrokumoro (2022). "Kekerabatan Bahasa Kerinci, Melayu Jambi, dan Minangkabau" [Kinship of Kerinci, Jambi Malay, and Minangkabau Language]. DIGLOSIA: Jurnal Kajian Bahasa, Sastra, dan Pengajarannya (in Indonesian). 5 (2). doi:10.30872/diglosia.v5i2.404. eISSN 2615-8655. ISSN 2615-725X.
  7. ^ a b Budi (2018-08-22). "Kemendikbud Ungkap Penyebab Bahasa Kerinci Terancam Punah". (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2021-12-27.
  8. ^ Andaya, Leonard Y. (2001), "The Search for the 'Origins' of Melayu" (PDF), Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 32 (3): 315–330, doi:10.1017/s0022463401000169, JSTOR 20072349, S2CID 62886471, archived (PDF) from the original on 11 October 2017, retrieved 13 October 2019
  9. ^ Van Reijn, E.O. (1974). "Some Remarks on the Dialects of North Kerintji: A link with Mon-Khmer Languages." Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 31, 2: 130-138.
  10. ^ Adelaar, K. Alexander; Himmelmann, Nikolaus (2013-03-07). The Austronesian Languages of Asia and Madagascar. Routledge. ISBN 9781136755095.
  11. ^ Djamaris, Edwar, (1991), Tambo Minangkabau, Jakarta: Balai Pustaka.
  12. ^ Zulyani, Hidayah (2015). Ensiklopedia Suku Bangsa di Indonesia. Jakarta: Yayasan Pustaka Obor Indonesia. ISBN 9789794619292. OCLC 913647590.
  13. ^ Rahman, Fadlul; Yandri, Yandri; Gani, Maulid Hariri (2019-07-17). "Variations in Kerinci Language of Rawang Isolect". Krinok:Jurnal Linguistik Budaya (in Indonesian). 4 (1). doi:10.36355/krinok.v4i1.336. ISSN 2580-0728.
  14. ^ Diyanti, Viki (2021-07-05). "Sapaan kekerabatan bahasa Kerinci di Kecamatan Gunung Raya Kabupaten Kerinci". Bahtera: Jurnal Pendidikan Bahasa dan Sastra. 20 (2): 248–259. doi:10.21009/bahtera.202.10. ISSN 2540-8968.
  15. ^ KBPJ, Admin (2024-05-24). "Bimbingan Teknis Guru Utama Revitalisasi Bahasa Kerinci untuk guru-guru di Kota Sungai Penuh". Kantor Bahasa Provinsi Jambi (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2024-06-08.
  16. ^ a b Usman 1985, p. v.
  17. ^ a b Nikelas et. al. 1981, p. 8.
  18. ^ Usman 1985, p. vi.
  19. ^ Nikelas et. al. 1981, p. 7.


Further reading