On Friday, 24 June 2022, in Paradiso Ubud, nonprofit organisation BASAbali Wiki will hold an insightful event: a screening of the documentary feature “Language Matters”, plus a discussion with the film’s host, Bob Holman. This is a fundraising event for the organisation’s continued efforts in preserving the Balinese language.

What do we lose when a language dies? What does it take to save a language?

These are the questions asked in Language Matters, which explores the loss of languages around the world. The 1h 50m documentary, first released in 2015, captures the state of different global dialects: on a remote island off the coast of Australia where 400 Aboriginal people speak 10 different languages, all at risk; in Wales, where the once ‘endangered’ Welsh is today making a comeback; and in Hawaii, where Hawaiians are fighting to save their native tongue.

“Language is the very essence of being human and when we lose a language, we lose a part of ourselves.” – Bob Holman. 

And what does this have to do with Bali? Basa Bali (the Balinese language) is of central importance to what it means to be Balinese, so tied to the very essence of the local culture, societal interactions, religious traditions. History and heritage and locked within local linguistics and literature.

However, on an island experiencing a simultaneous exposure to globalisation and ‘Indonesianisation’, the dialect is at risk. This is where BASAbali Wiki comes in. The organisation’s main objective is to encourage the continued use of Balinese language. This is predominantly achieved through the community-developed multilingual digital platform which is part dictionary, part encyclopaedia, and part public participation platform where young adults and youth publicly discuss civic issues and receive feedback from experts and policy makers.

The platform is in Balinese, Indonesian, and English, emphasising the value of local languages in the modern digital age along with national and international tongues and engaging people to speak Balinese around issues that matter to them. The Wiki has been used by over 2.5 million people.

Further to that, out of the BASAbali Wiki platform emerged a community-developed, multilingual environmental superhero named Luh Ayu Manik Mas. Luh Ayu speaks with the public on her own social media accounts, and then local artists, writers and the BASAbali team turn those conversations into comic books. All adventures are originally written in Balinese and include translations in Indonesian and English.

The documentary Language Matters shares an appropriate message for the situation that Bali finds itself in — a society balancing its identity with the old and the new, a mother tongue competing with a global voice. The audience will only be convinced further on why BASAbali’s work is of utmost importance. Their continued efforts in fanning the embers of this exposed fire. 

The Event

Taking place 7PM on Friday, 24 June 2022, at Paradiso Ubud.
Tickts are IDR 150.000 per person, inclusive of the film, discussion and a copy of the latest Luh Ayu Manik Mas comic book.
Proceeds of the event are for BASAbali’s continued work in engaging Balinese youth and encouraging the use of Balinese language.

Paradiso Ubud contact: +62 811 3991 718 (for tickets)
Find out more about BASAbali Wiki at BASAbali.org.

Edward Speirs

Edward Speirs

Edward, or Eddy as he prefers to be called, is the Managing Editor of NOW! Bali and host of the NOW! Bali Podcast. He enjoys photography, rural travel and loves that his work introduces him to people from all walks of life.