Bahasa Makassar
ᨅᨔ ᨆᨀᨔᨑ Basa Mangkasaraʼ
Native toIndonesia
RegionSouth Sulawesi (Sulawesi)
Native speakers
2.1 million (2000 census)[1]
  • Gowa-Takalar (Lakiung)
  • Jeʼneʼponto (Turatea)
  • Marusuʼ-Pangkajeʼneʼ
Lontara (present)
Latin (present)
Serang (Makassar Annals, religious purpose)
Old Makassarese (historical)
Language codes
ISO 639-2mak
ISO 639-3mak

Makassarese (basa Mangkasaraʼ or basa Mangkasarak), sometimes called Makasar, Makassar, or Macassar, is a language of the Makassarese people, spoken in South Sulawesi province of Indonesia. It is a member of the South Sulawesi group of the Austronesian language family, and thus closely related to, among others, Buginese.


The following description of Makassarese phonology is based on Jukes (2005).[2]


Makassarese has five vowels: /a/, /e/, /i/, /o/, /u/. The mid vowels are lowered to [ɛ] and [ɔ] in absolute final position and in the vowel sequences /ea/ and /oa/.


Makassarese consonants
Labial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t c k ʔ
voiced b d ɟ ɡ
Fricative s h
Semivowel j w
Lateral l
Trill r

Makassarese consonants except the glottal stop can be geminated. Some instances of these might result from Proto-Malayo-Polynesian schwa phoneme (now merged into a), which left gemination into the following consonant (*bəli*bəlliballi "to buy, price", compare Indonesian beli, contrasting with Makassarese bali "to oppose").[3]


All consonants except for /ʔ/ can appear in initial position. In final position, only /ŋ/ and /ʔ/ are found.

Consonant clusters only occur medially and (with one exception) can be analyzed as clusters of /ŋ/ or /ʔ/ + consonant. These clusters also arise through sandhi across morpheme boundaries.

nasal/lateral voiceless obstruents voiced stops + r
m n ɲ ŋ l p t c k s b d ɟ ɡ r
/ŋ/ mm nn ɲɲ ŋŋ ll mp nt ɲc ŋk ns mb nd ɲɟ ŋg nr
/ʔ/ ʔm ʔn ʔɲ ʔŋ ʔl pp tt cc kk ss ʔb ʔd ʔɟ ʔg ʔr

The geminate cluster /rr/ is only found in root-internal position and cannot be accounted for by the above rules.

Sequences of like vowels are contracted to a single vowel, e.g. sassa 'to wash' + -ang 'nominalizing suffix' > sassáng 'laundry', caʼdi 'small' + -i 'third person' > caʼdi 'it is small'.

Current writing systems

Although Makassarese is now often written in Latin script, it is still widely written using Lontara script, which once was used also to write important documents in Bugis and Mandar, two related languages from Sulawesi.

1. Makasar script
2. Lontara script
3. Serang Alphabet
4. Latin alphabet


Some common words/phrases in the Makasar language, transcribed in the Latin script, are as follows (ʼ = glottal stop):

Writing system examples
Lontara Romanized Indonesian Translation
ᨈᨕᨘ tau orang people
ᨄᨎᨗᨀᨗ paʼnyiki kelelawar bat
ᨕᨑᨙ areng nama name
ᨕᨊ anaʼ anak child
ᨔᨙᨑᨙ᨞ ᨑᨘᨓ᨞ ᨈᨒᨘ᨞ ᨕᨄ᨞ ᨒᨗᨆ᨞ seʼre, rua, tallu, appaʼ, lima satu, dua, tiga, empat, lima one, two, three, four, five
ᨅᨕᨗᨊᨙ baine perempuan, istri female, woman, wife
ᨅᨘᨑᨊᨙ buraʼne lelaki, suami male, man, husband
ᨈᨅᨙ tabeʼ permisi, maaf excuse me, sorry
ᨈᨕᨙᨊ, ᨈᨙᨊ, ᨈᨑᨙ taena, tena, tanreʼ tiada none, nothing
ᨒᨙᨅ leʼbaʼ telah already
ᨔᨒᨆᨀᨗ ᨅᨈᨘ ᨆᨕᨙ salamakkiʼ battu mae selamat datang welcome
ᨕᨄ ᨕᨈᨘ ᨆᨕᨙ ᨀᨅᨑ? apa antu mae kabaraʼ? apa kabar? how are you?
ᨅᨍᨗᨅᨍᨗᨍᨗ bajiʼ-bajiʼji baik-baik saja I am fine
ᨊᨕᨗ ᨕᨑᨙᨊᨘ? nai arenta? siapa namamu? what's your name?
ᨒᨀᨙᨑᨙᨀᨗ ᨆᨕᨙ?
ᨒᨀᨙᨀᨗ ᨆᨕᨙ?
lakereki mae?,
kamu mau ke mana? where are you going?
ᨀᨙᨑᨙ ᨆᨕᨙᨀᨗ ᨕᨆᨈ kere maekiʼ ammantang? kamu tinggal di mana? where do you live?
ᨔᨗᨐᨄᨆᨗ ᨕᨘᨆᨘᨑᨘᨈ? siapami umuruʼta? berapa usiamu? how old are you?
ᨔᨒᨆᨀᨗ ᨑᨗ ᨆᨂᨙᨕᨈᨙ salamakkiʼ ri mangeanta selamat sampai tujuan have a safe trip
ᨔᨒᨆᨀᨗ ᨑᨗ ᨒᨄᨈ salamakkiʼ ri lampanta selamat tinggal goodbye
ᨅᨈᨘ ᨑᨗ ᨀᨈᨙ battu ri katte tergantung padamu it depends on you

Historical writing systems

See also: Makasar script

Sample of a handwritten book, written in Makassarese using the Makasar script, of a diary of the Princes of the Sultanate of Gowa. The palláwa punctuation signs, typical of this script, are drawn and colored in red, as well as a few proper names and some inserts in Arabic.
Museum display showing script comparison of Makasar (left), Lontara (center), and Bilang-bilang (right) at Balla Lompoa Museum, Sungguminasa, Gowa

Makassarese was historically written using Makasar script (also known as "Old Makassarese" or "Makassarese bird script" in English-language scholarly works).[4] In Makassarese the script is known as ukiriʼ jangang-jangang or huruf jangang-jangang ('bird letters'). It was used for official purposes in the kingdoms of Makasar in the 17th century but ceased to be used by the 19th century, being replaced by Lontara script.

In spite of their quite distinctive appearance, both the Makasar and Lontara scripts are derived from the ancient Brahmi script of India. Like other descendants of that script, each consonant has an inherent vowel "a", which is not marked. Other vowels can be indicated by adding diacritics above, below, or on either side of each consonant.

Further, Makassarese was written in the Serang script, a variant of the Arabic-derived Jawi script. Texts written in the Serang script are relatively rare, and mostly appear in connection with Islam-related topics. Parts of the Makassar Annals, the chronicles of the Gowa and Tallo' kingdoms, were also written using the Serang script.[3]

See also

Further reading

  • Tabain, Marija and Jukes, Anthony (2016). "Makasar". Illustrations of the IPA. Journal of the International Phonetic Association. 46 (1): 111–99. doi:10.1017/S002510031500033X((cite journal)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link), with supplementary sound recordings.


  1. ^ Makasar at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015) (subscription required)
  2. ^ Jukes, Anthony, "Makassar" in K. Alexander Adelaar & Nikolaus Himmelmann, 2005, The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar, pp. 649-682, London, Routledge ISBN 0-7007-1286-0
  3. ^ a b Jukes, Anthony (2020). A Grammar of Makasar: A Language of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Leiden & Boston: BRILL. ISBN 978-90-04-41266-8.
  4. ^ Pandey, Anshuman (2015-11-02). "L2/15-233: Proposal to encode the Makasar script in Unicode" (PDF).