A free innovative multi-media Balinese-Indonesian-English Wiki dictionary is now available to people in Bali and throughout the world.
The Wiki dictionary uses social media to save Balinese, a language threatened, somewhat ironically, by social media.
In recent years, Balinese has dwindled down to use by only about a quarter of native Balinese, the result of globalization, nationalization, and social media taking its usual toll on a minority language. With Balinese, where speakers rely on who they are, who they are speaking to, and what they are speaking about to choose the right level of Balinese language, the faceless Internet presents a serious problem, encouraging Balinese posters to use the national – and status neutral – Indonesian rather than commit a cultural faux pas in Balinese.
But with the new Wiki dictionary in Balinese language, social media is being used to re-energize Balinese by promoting pride in the language through an international web presence and by providing a tool for anyone with internet access to contribute to its sustainability and benefit from the information provided.
Nala Antara of Bali’s Udayana University and the Ganesha Education University who, together with other universities within and outside of Bali who will oversee and edit the Wiki dictionary explains: “Technology will be our bridge to the future. The Wiki Balinese-English-Indonesian dictionary will help everyone in Bali learn and speak Balinese alongside Indonesian, so that we two strong languages co-existing: the language of our people and the language of our nation. The Wiki allows the people of Bali to actively take part in this project to take pride in their participation.”
Ayu Mandala from BASAbali who are working to connect the Linguist team with the Balinese public says, “with this Wiki, we can make the Balinese language well known throughout Bali and throughout the world. Wiki technology gives free access to everyone and provides an opportunity for the public to be part of the action."
A small firm called TinyMighty, based in a remote corner of Spain, created the Wiki interface. It is particularly unique in its ability able to handle the different registers of Balinese – something specific to the Balinese language – but it also gives real life examples of word usage from Balinese literature, newspapers and other media, the old and endangered Balinese script and YouTube videos of native speakers.
Alissa Stern of BASAbali hopes that the Wiki will not only inspire people to learn and use Balinese, but that Balinese can be a model how other threatened languages in the rest of the world might benefit from a collaboration of expert linguists and the general public.
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