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Preserving the Bali’s Water of Words

Wiki Bali Online Initiative Seeks to Preserve and Protect Bali’s Ancient Language Tradition

Globalvoices.org reports how crowd source funding is helping to fuel a pioneering digital initiative to preserve, promote, and revitalize the Balinese language in Indonesia.

With only 2 million people known to speak Balinese, Basa Bali is at risk of extinction if efforts are not undertaken to support its use in daily life in Bali and selected communities across Indonesia.

Local TV programs on the Island of Bali broadcast for 30-minutes each day in Balinese and schools offer a limited two-hours instruction of Basa Bali each week. Initiatives launched by Bali’s Governor, I Wayan Koster, mandate the use of Balinese on Thursday of each week and at major official ceremonies sponsored by the Province.

Signage on major facilities and streets in Bali is now being installed including Balinese script.

In order to support these “language – saving” initiatives, a group of linguists, anthropologists, and students launched a collaborative effort in 2011 to protect and sustain Basa Bali as an integral part of Balinese life and culture. These efforts include a multimedia Balinese-English-Indonesian wiki dictionary and encyclopedia.

Using digital modalities, a growing online resource is creating a growing, living free digital resource that encourage an active interest in learning to use Balinese.

Alissa Stern, the founder of Basa Bali, explained the Wiki Dictionary project: “Balinese has about a million speakers (sic); on the other hand, only about a quarter of the population of Bali can still speak it. So it’s in a state of decline, but it still has a solid base, which is why we’re intervening now.”

The Wiki project offers a dictionary, a language library on Balinese language and culture, word games, translation material, and a Balinese version of Google Home Page. The wiki application is also available in an Android application.

Basa Bali Wiki Website

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