Preserving the Balinese language

I was recently contacted by Alissa from BasaBali.org about that organisation’s attempts to preserve the Balinese spoken language using some interesting multimedia resources:

Although Balinese is not an endangered language, it is on sharp decline in the increasing shadow of English and Indonesian.  It is an incredibly rich language (something akin to 13th century Yiddush or Shakespearean English) but with only a million speakers left out of a population of 3-4 million, it is quickly losing traction.

Balinese script, as was brought to much acclaim by Tim Brookes’ Endangered Script Project (which I have written about before, Ed.) , is already endangered. We will have a chapter to teach the script using animation (sample on my website at http://basabali.org/balinese-language-preservation/).

We started a kickstarter campaign (http://kck.st/rpeM26) to try to raise fund to pay the Balinese linguists, videographers, animators, and anthropologists who are working with us.

Why is this important? Well, I think any endeavor to preserve knowledge is important – and this one is particularly so due the the fact that, as noted on the site “(e)xcept for a few print books, there are almost no language materials for Balinese, anywhere in the world.”

As someone that’s had the pleasure of spending time in Indonesia, I think the need is probably widespread – my time on Java showed me that the Javanese language changed from city to city if only in increments – and again, this is not the Indonesian that is the official language of the archipelago.

If you can spare a few dollars, I think this is a great cause. Given the technological advances of the last (insert timeframe here) there is no reason why any language should disappear, in any way. There may no longer be any native speakers or writers of a script – but the ability to record this information is now available at a reasonable price – almost free – and the relevant institutions should be doing all they can to preserve them.

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