|The first version sent to Unicode experts
- AA KARA changes name to A KARA TEDONG
- II KARA changes name to I KARA TEDONG
- UU KARA changes name to U KARA TEDONG
- EE KARA changes name to AIRSANIA
- OO KARA changes name to O KARA TEDONG
- Adding two syllables borrowed from Javanese: CHA and KHA
- Add new examples ‘ksatria’, ‘smerti’ and ‘stri’ to demonstrate the use of non semi-vowel as semi-vowel
- Finally added the romanization of ULU RICEM as /m/ and its example
- Add the abbreviation rule endorsed by the government
- Remove the normal form of CHA, leaving only the appended/subscript form
- Add "guwung macelek matedong" for semi-vowel RO
The Balinese script is used for writing the Balinese language, the native language of the people of Bali. It is a descendent of the ancient Brahmic script from India; therefore it has some notable similarities with modern scripts of South Asia and Southeast Asia that also are descendent of the Brahmic script. The Balinese script is also used for writing Kawi, or Old Javanese, which had a heavy influence to Balinese language in the 11th century. Some Balinese words are also borrowed from Sanskrit, thus Balinese script is also used to write words from Sanskrit.
The basic elements of the alphabet are syllables. Each syllables has inherent sound of /a/ or /ĕ/ depending of the position of the syllable within a word.
The text direction of the Balinese script is from left to right, with vowel signs attached to either before, after, below or above the syllable. Some vowel signs are split vowels, that means that they appear at more than one position to the syllable.
The Basic Syllables (Akśara Wreşāstra)
There are eighteen basic syllables that are used for writing pure Balinese language. Each syllable has an appended form, which kill the previous syllable sound. The appended form appears below the syllable that precedes it. For example, the word ‘bakta’ (translation: ‘bring’) is written as:
There are some exceptions as well, like the appended form of pa appears after the syllable that precedes it. The appended form of SA and YA appear below and after the syllable that precede them.
In Balinese, the basic syllable is called Akśara Wreşāstra. The appended form of the syllable in general is called Pangangge Akśara. The one that is hanging below is called Gantungan while the one that appears after the syllable is called Gempelan.
The Vowels (Akśara Suara)
There are twelve distinct vowel sounds in Balinese. They appear as either vowel signs attached to the syllables, or as independent letters if the word started with a vowel. If the vowels appear in the middle of a word, the vowel signs are attached to the syllable ha
Suku and suku ilut can be attached to gantungan or gempelan as well.
Tedong, ulu sari, and suku ilut are pronounced longer than their counterparts (inherent vowel, ulu, suku). It is often used for prefixing words. One example is prefix ‘ma’ + ‘adep’ becoming mādep. If it appears in the holy texts, that are meant to be recited, those vowels can be pronounced even longer than normal reading.
Semi-Vowels (Arda Suara)
The Balinese script has four semi-vowels attached to syllable: ra, wa (ua), la, ya (ia).
Please note that even the written glyph looks the same, but the pronunciations are actually different. ‘kra’ in ‘pakraman’ is pronounced faster than ‘kra’ in ‘Pak Raman’.
‘Pak Raman’ also can be legally converted to use the adegadeg sign to avoid confusion.
Semi vowels can be stacked together, with nania or suku kembung attached to guwung or gantungan la
In addition to the eighteen basic syllables, there are other syllables that are used for writing Kawi (Old Javanese) language. The rule of usage is the same as the basic syllables.
Sound Killers (Pangangge Tengenan)
To end the sound of a syllable, one may add one of the signs: ardha chandra, surang, cecek, bisah, or adegadeg.
Holy Symbol Ongkara
When Au Kara meets Ulu Candra, the romanization is not “Aung”, but “Om”. And the letter has a special name Ongkara This word is used almost everywhere in the text, as it is the symbol of God Himself. The most notable sentences using OM are the greetings:
(May God blesses you)
Om Şanti Şanti Şanti, Om
(May peace be everywhere)
There are two more syllables that apparently borrowed from Javanese. Their existence in Balinese script is very rare, but they exist. For the syllable CHA, the normal form of it does not exist. If CHA appears in a text, it is always paired with the normal form of CA
The Balinese use decimal system for numbers. There is a simple one-to-one mapping to the Arabic digits, as shown in the following table.
These are some punctuations and symbols specific to the Balinese text.
Although the most common used characters are already listed in the previous sections, some manuscripts were using non-standard variants of the characters.
Usage of a kara as a syllable
In various texts, a kara is not always stand alone, but also paired with ulu, suku, taleng, and other vowel signs. This practice is not correct, and should not be considered valid. For any vowel sounds, there are independent vowel glyphs already available for use.
For ‘ě’ and ‘ö’ that don’t have independent vowel form, they can be written with HA as:
Pa kapal is never attached with suku or suku ilut
As a syllable, pa kapal can be paired with any vowel signs. But the shape of pa kapal is not the same with other syllables. The final stroke of pa kapal is not going down. Hence suku and suku ilutpa kapal. These combinations should still be considered, and suku or suku ilut is positioned below pa kapal but not attached to it. cannot be attached to
Romanization of the inherent sound
A stand-alone syllable has inherent sound that is always romanized as a. But it is common to a Balinese to pronounced an a at the end of a word as ĕ.
Usage of Pangangge Akśara
There are four forms of gantungan/gempelan usages:
- Killing the inherent sound of the base syllable.
This form is equivalent with the one using adegadeg sign,
- This form of gantungan/gempelan happens very rarely, when a non semi-vowel acts like a semi vowel. The term for this in Balinese is pluta.
As a double consonant syllable, but actually a single sound. This occurrence is called dwita.
It is not so nice to have adegadeg in the middle of a word, so the preferred form is always the one without the adegadeg. Sometimes the use of adegadeg is inevitable, to avoid stacking gantungangantungan altogether. and
Example of inevitable adegadeg, ‘tamblang’ (a village’s name):
Two glyphs can be written using one pen strokes, thus form what so called ligatures.
- Tedong form ligatures with the following syllable (see table). The ligature form is desirable but not mandatory.
Balinese alphabet is never been computerized (except for font creation that enable people to type in) so that nobody has ever devised an alphabet order or a sorting scheme.
Apart from the order of ha-na-ca-ra-ka, there is no defined order of alphabets for Balinese. But if we take a closer look at what has been done to the cousin of Balinese, the Devanagari script, and what has been arranged for Latin in ASCII, then the alphabet order should look like this:
- Start with the punctuations (7 characters)
- Followed by the digits (10 characters)
- Followed by the independent vowels (10 characters)
- Followed by the aksara biasa (basic syllable) (18 characters)
- Followed by the aksara wayah (9 characters)
- Followed by the vowel signs (11 characters)
- Followed by the semi-vowel signs (4 characters)
- Followed by the final consonant signs (5 characters)
Please note that the above order is only a proposed one, since there are no standards defined for alphabet order.
Just like in other languages or scripts, long words can be abbreviated as well. There are three different scheme for abbreviations:
- The scheme endorsed by the government to abbreviate government institutions. The scheme is to follow the way the abbrevation pronounced in Indonesian language.
- The one used by I Wayan Simpen A.B. in his schoolbook “Purwa Aksara. The scheme is to use the first syllable with all the vowel signs attached to it; or if it is an independent vowel, then the independent vowel itself is used.
- The one less commonly used, but somehow the shortest one.The scheme is to use only syllable or independent vowel.
For example: “Bank Pembangunan Daerah Bali” (Development Bank of Bali Province) or BPD Bali is written like this:
The abbrevation alternatives are:
1) Be Pe De
2) Ba Pe Da
3) Ba Pa Da
In Balinese script, there are no spaces to separate words.
In the old time of writing on palm leaves, spaces were scarce and the “page setup” for lontar was always a thin landscape. The number of lines is small, with every space must be filled for optimal use. There was common practice to break the sentence at any places. For modern writing, the following rules of thumb should apply:
- No line breaks allowed between syllable and any of its signs
- No line breaks allowed just before a colon, comma or full stop
Because there are no spaces between words, there is no such thing as a justified paragraph. A Balinese text is left aligned (the most common), right aligned, or centered.
- Example of words came from book of I Wayan Simpen A.B. “Pasang Aksara Basa Bali” – published year unknown, publisher name unknown. Most probably it was published during the sixties, because it refers to the Balinese Language Congress of 1963.
- Some example words came from book of I Wayan Simpen A.B. “Purwa Aksara” for 4th grade primary school. Publisher Upada Sastra 2002.
- US Library of Congress has a romanization table for Balinese script. It can be downloaded from the website http://www.loc.gov/catdir/cpso/roman.html
- Pedoman Pasang Aksara Bali, by I Nengah Medra, et. al. April 2001. Based on Balinese Language Congress of December 1997.
For Detail information please, click http://www.babadbali.com/aksarabali/alphabet-c.htm