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Cia-Cia language

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Title: Cia-Cia language  
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Subject: Hangul, Celebic languages, Nuclear Malayo-Polynesian languages, Batak Karo language, Enggano language
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Cia-Cia language

Bahasa Ciacia
Region Buton Island, Sulawesi
Native speakers
79,000  (2005)[1]
Hangul (abandoned)
Gundhul (historical)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 cia
Glottolog ciac1237[2]

Cia-Cia (Bahasa Ciacia), also known as Buton(ese), is an Austronesian language spoken principally around the town of Bau-Bau 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 town of Bau-Bau was teaching children to read and write Cia-Cia in hangul, and the mayor consulted the Indonesian government on the possibility of making the writing system official.[3] However, the project was abandoned in 2012.[4][5]


  • Demographics 1
  • Geographic distribution 2
  • Name 3
  • Dialects 4
  • Orthography 5
  • Words 6
    • Verbs 6.1
    • Nouns 6.2
    • Common phrases 6.3
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9


As of 2005 there were 80,000 speakers.[1] Speakers also use Wolio, which is closely related to, or is 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 with the Latin script.[6]

Geographic distribution

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.[7]


The name of the language comes from the negator cia "no". It is also known as Buton(ese), Butung, and in Dutch Boetoneezen, 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.[8]

Dialects include Kaesabu, Sampolawa (Mambulu-Laporo), Wabula (with its subvarieties), and Masiri.[9] The Masiri dialect shows the greatest amount of vocabulary in common with the standard dialect.[1] Konisi & Hidayat discuss two dialects, Pesisir and Pedamalan; Pedamalan has gh in native words where Pesisir has r, but has r in loan words.


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.

The Cia-Cia Latin alphabet[10]
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, the language gained international media attention with a decision by the town of Bau-Bau to adopt hangul as the modern script for Cia-Cia, beginning a pilot project to teach a class of fifty third-grade students the alphabet using textbooks created by the Hunminjeongeum Society in Korea.[11][12][13][14][15]

However, Indonesian Ambassador to Korea Nicholas T. Dammen and Professor Chun Tai-hyun, who first proposed the idea of adopting the Korean alphabet to the Bau-bau mayor in 2007, discounted reports on Korea's export of hangul.[16] They told The Korea Times in January 2010 that hangul had yet to be officially adopted by the Cia Cia because Bau-bau Mayor Amirul Tamim had not taken due procedures necessary for a foreign alphabet to be recognized as an official writing system. In October 2010, a town official told The Korea Times that the mayor had been consulting the Indonesian government on adopting hangul, which would be an exception to the stipulation in Indonesia's Basic Law that all tribal languages must be recorded in Roman letters to preserve national unity. Chun Tai-hyun said that reports of official adoption had been based on a mistranslation of the mayor's statement about this consultation. However, by that time, the number of students learning hangul had risen to 190.[3]

The Cia-Cia hangul alphabet
Consonants g k n d dh t r l m b v bh p s ng j c h
Vowels a e o u i (null)

An example of the proposed hangul script:[17]

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.


The numerals 1–10 are:

Numerals 1–10[18]
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


  • buri (bughi) "write"
  • pogau "chat"
  • baca'an "read"


  • ka'ana "home"
  • sigola "school"
  • sayor "vegetable"
  • boku "book"

Common phrases

  • Tarima kasi. "Thanks."
  • Indau miano Cia-Cia. "I am a Cia-Cia."
  • Indau pe'elu iso'o. "I love you."
  • Moapu isau. "Excuse me."
  • Umbe. "Yes."
  • Cia. "No."


  1. ^ a b c d e Cia-Cia at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Cia-Cia". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ a b Lee Tae-hoon, "Hangeul didn’t become Cia Cia’s official writing", Korea Times, 2010-10-06.
  4. ^ "Adoption of Hangeul by Indonesian Tribe Hits Snag", The chosunibo
  5. ^ Yi Whan-woo, "Sejong Institute withdrawal to leave Cia-Cia out in cold",[1] The Korea Times
  6. ^ Butonese - Introduction
  7. ^ Noorduyn, J. 1991. "A critical survey of studies on the languages of Sulawesi" p. 131.
  8. ^ Noorduyn, J. 1991. "A critical survey of studies on the languages of Sulawesi" p. 130.
  9. ^ Donohue, Mark. 1999. "A grammar of Tukang Besi". p. 6.
  10. ^ slideshow
  11. ^ Agence France-Presse, "Southeast Sulawesi Tribe Using Korean Alphabet to Preserve Native Tongue", Jakarta Globe, 2009 August 06
  12. ^ "South Korea's Latest Export: Its Alphabet", New York Times, 2009 Sept. 11
  13. ^ Korea Times, 2009-08-06 [2]
  14. ^ Indonesian tribe to use Korean alphabet
  15. ^ (LEAD) Indonesian tribe picks Korean alphabet as official writing system
  16. ^ Korea Times, Quest to Globalize 'Hangeul' Raises Questions
  17. ^ (Korean) 印尼 소수민족, '한글' 공식 문자로 채택
  18. ^ Numbers in Austronesian languages


  • van den Berg, René. 1991. "Preliminary notes on the Cia-Cia language (South Buton)." In Harry A. Poeze and Pim Schoorl (eds.), Excursies in Celebes: Een bundel bijdragen bij het afscheid van J. Noorduyn als directeur-secretaris van het KITLV, 305-24. Leiden: KITLV.
  • Mustafa Abdullah. 1985. Struktur bahasa Cia-Cia. Proyek Penelitian Bahasa dan Sastra Indonesia dan Daerah Sulawesi Selatan, Departemen Pendidikan dan Kebudayaan.
  • Ho-Young Lee, Hyosung Hwang, Abidin. 2009. Bahasa Cia-Cia 1. Hunmin jeongeum Society of Korea.
  • (Indonesian) Konisi & Hidayat, 2001, Analisis kategori kata bahasa cia liwungau

External links

  • Cia-cia: Sampolawa language on
  • (Korean) Interview on the Cia-Cia's adaption of Hangeul
  • Another road sign [3] ([4]), illustrating the null vowel between initial /pl/ and after final /s/
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