BASAbali was created to use the power of an idea -- to encourage the use of the Balinese language, a language that is very much at the crossroads with a script that is already endangered -- to create the first multimedia materials to teach Balinese. We just launched the materials a few weeks ago, timed with the launch of Google’s home page in Balinese which we translated for Google, marking the first time for Balinese to have a visible public space on the internet.
With funding from Kickstarter (many thanks to all those who funded us!) we developed materials in Balinese with English translation. It contains 24 beautiful videos, such as this one below:
Each video is accompanied by a range of fun exercises, and grammatical and cultural notes. You can see samples on our website and in the video below.
We now want to create materials that are in Balinese with Indonesian translation, to honor Balinese as a gem within the larger Indonesian system and to make the program accessible to more people.
What makes us unique is not only what we produce: it’s how we operate. We bring together linguists, anthropologists, videographers, and others from within and outside of Bali to donate their expertise. And, we give away the materials to nonprofit organizations free of charge to maximize its use.
Linguists from the universities of DwiJendra (Bali), Udayana (Bali), Cornell (USA), Berkeley (USA), Australian National University (Australia), the National University of Singapore (Singapore) and Mokpo National University (South Korea) have come together along with musicologists, videographers (Visual Bali), anthropologists, software specialists (Transparent Language), and a whole network of individuals within and outside of Bali with a passion to reverse the trend that has already reduced Balinese from 3.5-4 million speakers to only 1 million.The Economist picked up the momentum.
When we first started out, a blogger wrote this about our project (Owl's Farm Blog): "We're lucky, I suppose, that English isn't in any immediate danger of annihilation (even though it could one day be supplanted as the primary language of international discourse). Nor is our alphabet tilting on the brink. Instead, its pure simplicity enables it to be written in a seemingly endless multitude of styles--some of them quite beautiful.
Preserving the past, even if it's only for the purpose of not forgetting its mistakes, requires us to pay attention when we're losing cultural artifacts. Languages and writing systems should not be allowed to get lost in the shuffle of modernity precisely because they both mark significant moments in humanity's cultural and biological evolution: from becoming human in the first place, to becoming "civilized" when the very first syllabaries and alphabets were produced."
Perhaps our project can help prevent Balinese from getting lost in the shuffle and encourage others to help in this effort to preserve one of Indonesia’s many linguistic jewels.
Risks and challenges
We estimate that our project will be finished by summer of 2014 if successfully funded (although we can get out the prizes much sooner). It may take a month or two longer because of Balinese life cycle rituals and holidays or because of production schedules, but the end of the summer of 2014 it will be finished.
I'm confident that we can create these materials in Balinese-Indonesian because we just created them in Balinese-English, before we had the networks of expertise or a firm grasp of the technology. We now have a whole team of people behind us with technical, linguistic, and artistic experience.
If we run into problems, we will do what we always do, ask someone to help and so far, we've been so fortunate to find someone who is willing to do so.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)