The Balinese script, natively known as Aksara Bali and Hanacaraka, is an abugida used in the island of Bali, Indonesia, commonly for writing the Austronesian Balinese language, Old Javanese, and the liturgical language Sanskrit. With some modifications, the script is also used to write the Sasak language, used in the neighboring island of Lombok. The script is a descendant of the Brahmi script, and so has many similarities with the modern scripts of South and Southeast Asia. The Balinese script, along with the Javanese script, is considered the most elaborate and ornate among Brahmic scripts of Southeast Asia.
Though everyday use of the script has largely been supplanted by the Latin alphabet, the Balinese script has a significant prevalence in many of the island's traditional ceremonies and is strongly associated with the Hindu religion. The script is mainly used today for copying lontar or palm leaf manuscripts containing religious texts.
|The Brahmic script and its descendants|
There are 47 letters in the Balinese script, each representing a syllable with inherent vowel /a/ or /ə/ at the end of a sentence, which changes depending on the diacritics around the letter. Pure Balinese can be written with 18 consonant letters and 9 vowel letters, while Sanskrit transliteration or loan words from Sanskrit and Old Javanese utilizes the full set. A set of modified letters are also used for writing the Sasak language. Each consonant has a conjunct form called gantungan which nullifies the inherent vowel of the previous syllable.
Punctuation includes a comma, period, colon, as well as marks to introduce and end section of a text. Musical notation uses letter-like symbols and diacritical marks in order to indicate pitch information. Text are written left to right without word boundaries (Scriptio continua).
There is also a set of "holy letters" called aksara modre which appears in religious texts and protective talismans. Most of them are constructed using diacritic ulu candra with corresponding characters. A number of additional characters, known to be used inline in text (as opposed to decoratively on drawings), remains under study and those characters are expected to be proposed as Balinese extensions in due course.
A basic letter in Balinese is called aksara (ᬅᬓ᭄ᬱᬭ), and each letter stands for a syllable with inherent vowel /a/.
Consonants are called wianjana (ᬯ᭄ᬬᬜ᭄ᬚᬦ) or aksara wianjana (ᬅᬓ᭄ᬱᬭᬯ᭄ᬬᬜ᭄ᬚᬦ). Balinese script has 33 consonants, of which only 18 called wreṣāstra (ᬯᬺᬱᬵᬲ᭄ᬢ᭄ᬭ) are used for writing basic vocabulary in Balinese language. The other 15, known as sualalita (ᬰ᭄ᬯᬮᬮᬶᬢ), are mainly used for writing Sanskrit and Kawi loanwords in Balinese language. The consonants can be arranged into Sanskrit order and hanacaraka traditional order.
Hanacaraka traditional order
The consonants can be arranged in hanacaraka traditional order. The sequence forms a poem of 4 verses narrating the myth of Aji Saka. However, the hanacaraka sequence only has the 18 consonants of aksara wreṣāstra (ᬅᬓ᭄ᬱᬭᬯᬺᬱᬵᬲ᭄ᬢ᭄ᬭ) and exclude aksara sualalita (ᬅᬓ᭄ᬱᬭᬰ᭄ᬯᬮᬮᬶᬢ). However, this table below include aksara sualalita as the current romanization have no diacritics for the consonants.
|Poem||First Line||Second Line||Third Line||Fourth Line|
|Aksara Latin |
|Aksara Wreṣāstra |
|Aksara Sualalita |
(Place of articulation)
|Pancawalimukha ||Ardhasuara |
Ta latik m.5
Da murda a.4
Da murda m.5
| or |
^1 Aksara wreṣāstra. They are, in traditional order: ha na ca ra ka / da ta sa wa la / ma ga ba nga / pa ja ya nya.
^2 The consonant ha is sometimes not pronounced. For example, ᬳᬸᬚᬦ᭄ hujan (lit. rain) is pronounced ujan.
^3 The exact form of ca laca is unknown because only the appended (gantungan) form is left. However, the independent form is included in Unicode.
^4 alpaprana ^5 mahaprana
^6 Actually an alveolar consonant, but classified as dental by tradition
^7 The former of the two letter forms is more frequently used.
Vowels, called suara (ᬲ᭄ᬯᬭ) or aksara suara (ᬅᬓ᭄ᬱᬭᬲ᭄ᬯᬭ), can be written as independent letters when vowels appear in initial position. They are described in the following list:
|Warga(Place of articulation)||Aksara suara hŗeşua |
|Aksara suara dirgha|
|Balinese script||Balinese script||Latin Transliteration||IPA||Name||Name||Balinese script||Balinese script||Latin Transliteration||IPA|
Gantungan and Gempelan
Gantungan (ᬕᬦ᭄ᬢᬸᬗᬦ᭄) (appended letters) and gempelan (ᬕᬾᬫ᭄ᬧᬾᬮᬦ᭄) (attached letters) should be used to represent the consonant cluster, as zero vowel signs (adeg-adeg) are not used in the middle of sentences in general. Thus, as other members of the Brahmic family (Javanese), the consonant cluster is written cursively. Each consonant letter has a corresponding either gantungan or gempelan (for pa, pha, sa and ṣa only) form, and the presence of gantungan and gempelan eliminates the inherent vowel [a] of the letter it is appended to. For example, if the letter na (ᬦ) is appended with gantungan da (◌᭄ᬤ), the pronunciation becomes nda (ᬦ᭄ᬤ).
Gantungan or gempelan can be applied with pangangge (diacritic) to a letter. However, attaching two or more gantungan to one letter is forbidden; this condition is known as tumpuk telu (three layers). Adeg-adeg may be used in the middle of a sentence to avoid such situation. For example, tamblang with consonant cluster mbl is written as ᬢᬫ᭄ᬩ᭄ᬮᬂ.
The forms of gantungan and gempelan are as follows:
(Place of articulation)
|Pancawalimukha ||Ardhasuara |
Ta latik m.
Da madu a.
Da madu m.
Diacritics (pangangge (ᬧᬗ᭢ᬗ᭄ᬕ), pronounced /pəŋaŋɡe/, also known as sandhangan when referring to the Javanese script) are symbols that cannot stand by themselves. When they are attached to the independent letters, they affect the pronunciation. The three types of diacritics are pangangge suara, pangangge tengenan (pronounced /t̪əŋənan/) and pangangge aksara.
Pangangge suara (ᬧᬗ᭢ᬗ᭄ᬕᬲ᭄ᬯᬭ) change the inherited vowel of a consonant letter. For example, the letter ᬦ (na) with ulu (◌ᬶ) becomes ni (ᬦᬶ); ka (ᬓ) with suku (◌ᬸ) becomes ku (ᬓᬸ). The diacritics in this category are summarized in the following list:
|Warga(Place of articulation)||Balinese script||Transliteration||IPA||Name|
|◌ᭂ||e / ê / ě 1||[ə]||Pepet|
|◌ᬾ||e / é 1||[e] |
|◌ᭁ||au||[aːu]||Taling detya matedung|
^1 As first romanization of Balinese Language was developed during Dutch Colonial Era, letter e represents sound [ə] and letter é represents sound [e] and [ɛ] as in Van Ophuijsen Indonesian and Dutch orthography. After 1957, sounds [ə], [e] and [ɛ] are represented with e as in current Indonesian orthography with exception for new learner and dictionary usage.
Many consonants can form ligatures with tedung:
Pangangge tengenan (ᬧᬗ᭢ᬗ᭄ᬕᬢᭂᬗᭂᬦᬦ᭄), except adeg-adeg, adds a final consonant to a syllable. It can be used together with pangangge suara. For example, the letter ᬦ (na) with bisah (◌ᬄ) becomes ᬦᬄ (nah); ᬓ (ka) with suku (◌ᬸ) and surang (◌ᬃ) becomes ᬓᬸᬃ (kur). Compared to Devanagari, bisah is analogous to visarga, cecek to anusvara, and adeg-adeg to virama.
Adeg-adeg is zero vowel diacritics as in other Brahmic scripts in Balinese script. Adeg-adeg, as virama in Devanagari, suppress the inherent vowel /a/ in the consonant letter. Adeg-adeg is used on impossibility of gantungan and gempelan usage such as succeeded by punctuation marks, attachment of two or more gantungan to one letter (tumpuk telu, lit. three layers), preservation of combination (watek ksatriya, ᬯᬢᭂᬓ᭄ᬓ᭄ᬱᬢ᭄ᬭᬶᬬ rather than ᬯᬢᭂᬓ᭄ᬓ᭄ᬱᬢ᭄ᬭᬶᬬ) and disambiguation.
Pangangge aksara (ᬧᬗ᭢ᬗ᭄ᬕᬅᬓ᭄ᬱᬭ) is appended below consonant letters. Pangangge aksara are the appended (gantungan) forms of the ardhasuara (semivowel) consonants. Guwung macelek is the appended form of the vowel ra repa (ᬋ).
Balinese numerals are written in the same manner as Arabic numerals. For example, 25 is written with the Balinese numbers 2 and 5.
|Balinese numeral||Balinese numeral||Arabic numeral||Name||Balinese numeral||Balinese numeral||Arabic numeral||Name|
If the number is written in the middle of a text, carik has to be written before and after the number to differentiate it from the text. Below is an example of how a date is written using Balinese numerals (date: 1 July 1982, location: Bali):
|Bali, 1 Juli 1982.|
There are some special symbols in the Balinese script. Some of them are punctuation marks, and the others are religious symbols. The symbols are described in the following list:
|Written in the middle of a sentence, like a comma (,). Also, written surrounding numerals to differentiate them from the text.|
|᭟||Carik Kalih |
|Written at the end of a sentence, like a full stop (.).|
|᭝||Carik pamungkah||Functions like a colon (:).|
|᭟᭜᭟||Pasalinan||Used at the end of a prose, letter, or verse.|
|᭚||Panten or Panti||Used at the beginning of a prose, letter, or verse.|
|᭛||Pamada||Used at the beginning of religious texts. This symbol is a ligature of the letters ma, nga, ja, and pa, forming the word mangajapa, which roughly means "praying for safety".|
|ᬒᬁ||Ongkara||Sacred symbol of Hinduism. This symbol is pronounced "Ong" or "Om".|
Assimilation in Balinese occurs within the word.[does this only occur with conjuncts/consonant clusters, or can it occur across vowels?] Balinese script represents assimilation occurred, however Latin script sometimes may not represent this. In general, alveolar consonants are assimilated into palatal, retroflex or labial. There are more specific descriptions in assimilation combination:
- ᬦ [n] assimilated into ᬜ [ɲ] if succeeded by palatal consonants, such as consonant cluster nc ᬜ᭄ᬘ and nj ᬜ᭄ᬚ. For example, word wianjana is written as ᬯ᭄ᬬᬜ᭄ᬚᬦ ([wjaɲdʒana]), not written as ᬯ᭄ᬬᬦ᭄ᬚᬦ ([wjandʒana]).
- ᬲ [s] assimilated into ᬰ [ɕ] if succeeded by palatal consonants, such as consonant cluster sc ᬰ᭄ᬘ. For example, word pascad is written as ᬧᬰ᭄ᬘᬤ᭄ ([paɕcad]), not written as ᬧᬲ᭄ᬘᬤ᭄ ([pascad]).
- ᬤ [d] assimilated into ᬚ [dʒ] if succeeded by palatal consonants, such as consonant cluster dny ᬚ᭄ᬜ. For example, word yadnya is written as ᬬᬚ᭄ᬜ ([jadʒɲa]), not written as ᬬᬤ᭄ᬜ ([jadɲa]).
- ᬦ [n] assimilated into ᬡ [ɳ] if preceded by retroflex consonants, such as consonant cluster rn ᬭ᭄ᬡ. For example, word karna is written as ᬓᬭ᭄ᬡ ([karɳa]), not written as ᬓᬭ᭄ᬦ ([karna]).
- ᬲ [s] assimilated into ᬱ [ʂ] if succeeded by retroflex consonants, such as consonant cluster st (ṣṭ) ᬱ᭄ᬝ and sn (ṣṇ) ᬱ᭄ᬡ. For example, word dusta (duṣṭa, lie) is written as ᬤᬸᬱ᭄ᬝ ([duʂʈa]), not written as ᬤᬸᬲ᭄ᬝ ([dusʈa]).
- ᬦ [n] assimilated into ᬫ [m] if succeeded by labial consonants. For example, word tanbara is written as ᬢᬫ᭄ᬪᬭ ([tambʰara]), not written as ᬢᬦ᭄ᬪᬭ ([tanbʰara]).
Liquid Consonant-Schwa Combination
Liquid consonant, ᬭ [r] and ᬮ [l], may not be combined with ◌ᭂ (pepet, schwa) [ə] as ᬭᭂ and ᬮᭂ. These combination, rě [rə] and lě [lə], should be written as ᬋ (re repa) and ᬍ (le lenga). Word kěrěng (lit. eat a lot) and lekad are written as ᬓᭂᬋᬂ and ᬍᬓᬤ᭄. While combination of ◌᭄ᬮ (gantungan [l]) and ◌ᭂ (pepet) is possible as in ᬩᬼᬕᬜ᭄ᬚᬸᬃ (bleganjur), combination of ◌᭄ᬭ (cakra or gantungan [r]) and ◌ᭂ pepet is not allowed. If the combination follows a word which ends in a consonant, ◌᭄ᬋ (gempelan re repa) may be used as in ᬧᬓ᭄ᬋᬋᬄ (Pak Rěrěh, Mr. Rěrěh). If the combination is in a word, ◌ᬺ (guwung macelek) may be used instead as in ᬓᬺᬱ᭄ᬡ (Krěsna, Krishna).
Latin Script Transliteration
Latin script transliteration into Balinese script is based on phonetics. As vocabulary expands, foreign sounds are introduced and have no equivalent on Balinese script. In general, transliteration of foreign sounds is shown as below.
|Foreign Sound Transliteration|
|IPA||Foreign Sound |
|Latin Script||Balinese Script||Foreign Word||Balinese Language||Meaning|
|Latin Script||Balinese Script|
|[kw], [k], [q]||q||k||ᬓ||quantum||kuantum||ᬓ᭄ᬯᬦ᭄ᬢᬸᬫ᭄||quantum|
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (March 2016)
There are some fonts for Balinese script as of 2016. Bali Simbar, Bali Galang, JG Aksara Bali, Aksara Bali, Tantular Bali, Lilitan, Geguratan and Noto Sans Balinese are some fonts that included Balinese script. The fonts have different degree of compatibility each other, and most contain critical flaws.
Bali Simbar is first font for Balinese script by I Made Suatjana Dipl Ing at 1999. Bali Simbar is not compatible for Mac-OS and Unicode. JG Aksara Bali, was designed by Jason Glavy, has over 1400 Balinese glyphs, including a huge selection of precomposed glyph clusters. The latest version of JG Aksara Bali is released on 2003, thus has no compatibility with Unicode. Bali Simbar and JG Aksara Bali, in particular, may cause conflicts with other writing systems, as the font uses code points from other writing systems to complement Balinese's extensive repertoire as Balinese script was not included in Unicode at the creation time.
Aksara Bali by Khoi Nguyen Viet is the first hacked Unicode Balinese font with a brute-force OpenType implementation. The results depend on how well other OpenType features are implemented in the renderer. The font has about 370 Balinese glyphs, but does not display the vowel ⟨é⟩ correctly. The team of Aditya Bayu Perdana, Ida Bagus Komang Sudarma, and Arif Budiarto has created a small series of Balinese fonts: Tantular Bali, Lilitan, and Geguratan, all using hacked Unicode and a brute-force OpenType implementation. Tantular has about 400 Balinese glyphs. These all have serious flaws.
Another Unicode font is Noto Sans Balinese from Google. However, Noto Sans Balinese exhibits several critical flaws, such as an inability to correctly display more than one diacritic per consonant.
The free font Bali Galang, maintained by Bemby Bantara Narendra, displays correctly apart from the consonant-spanning vowels ⟨o⟩ and ⟨au⟩. However, those vowels can be manually substituted by their graphic components, ⟨é⟩ and ⟨ai⟩ followed by the length sign (tedung), which together display as ⟨o⟩ and ⟨au⟩. It also automatically assimilates some consonants within words. It displays corresponding Balinese glyphs instead of Latin letters.
Balinese script was added to the Unicode Standard in July, 2006 with the release of version 5.0.
The Unicode block for Balinese is U+1B00–U+1B7F:
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
Page from a Bible printed with Balinese script
Balinese palm-leaf manuscript
Sign at Pura Puseh Temple, Batuan, Bali
Street sign in Singaraja, written in Latin and Balinese script
Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
Sami manusané sané nyruwadi wantah mardéka tur maduwé kautamaan lan hak-hak sané pateh. Sami kalugrähin papineh lan idep tur mangdané paḍa masawitra melarapan semangat pakulawargaan [All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood].
Kakawin Bhāratayuddha Pasalin 1 Verse 1 (wirama jagaddhita):
Sang śūrā mriha yadnya ring samara mahyuni hilanganikang parāng muka, līlā kembangura sekartaji nikéśaning ari pejahing raṇānggaṇa, ūrṇāning ratu māti wīja nira, kuṇḍa nira nagaraning musuh geseng, sāityā uti teṇḍasing ripu kapöka niratha nika suśraméng gala.
- Everson, Michael; Suatjana, I Made (2005-01-23). "N2908: Proposal for encoding the Balinese script in the UCS" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-09-09.
- Kuipers, Joel (2003). Indic Scripts of Insular Southeast Asia: Changing Structures and Functions Archived 2014-05-14 at the Wayback Machine. Tokyo: Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.
- Fox, Richard (2013). Rival Styles of Writing, Rival Styles of Practical Reasoning. Heidelberg: Institut für Ehtnologie.
- Ida Bagus Adi Sudewa (14 May 2003). "The Balinese Alphabet, v0.6". Yayasan Bali Galang. Retrieved 9 November 2013.
- Richard Ishida (2012). "Balinese Script Notes". Retrieved 22 May 2014.
- Tinggen, p. 16
- Tinggen, p. 23
- "Unicode Table" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-11-13.
- Tinggen, p. 27
- Tinggen, I Nengah (1994). Pedoman Perubahan Ejaan Bahasa Bali dengan Huruf Latin dan Huruf Bali. Singaraja: Rikha.
- Pedoman Pasang Aksara Bali. Denpasar: Dinas Kebudayaan Provinsi Bali. 1997.
- Ishida, Richard. "Balinese script notes". Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- Tinggen, I Nengah (1994). Celah-Celah Kunci Aksara Bali (1 ed.). Singaraja: Rhika.
- "Bringing Balinese to iOS". Norbert’s Corner. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "Aksara Bali". Bali Galang Foundation. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "Noto Sans Balinese". Google Noto Font. Retrieved 24 March 2016.
- "OHCHR |". www.ohchr.org. Retrieved 2020-03-21.
- Surada, I Made (2007). Kamus Sanskerta-Indonesia. Surabaya: Penerbit Paramitha.
- Simpen, I Wayan. Pasang Aksara Bali. Bali: Dinas Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan Provinsi Daerah Tingkat I.
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