Makassarese Language
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Makassarese Language
Bahasa Makassar
? Basa Mangkasara'
Native toIndonesia
RegionSouth Sulawesi (Sulawesi)
Native speakers
2.1 million (2000 census)[1]
  • Lakiung
  • Turatea
  • Marusu'-Pangkajene'
Lontara (present)
Latin (present)
Old Makassarese (historical)
Language codes

Makassarese (basa Mangkasara'), sometimes spelled Makasar, Makassar, or Macassar, is a language of the Makassarese people, spoken in South Sulawesi province of Indonesia. It is a member of the South Sulawesi group of the Austronesian language family, and thus closely related to, among others, Buginese.


The following description of Makassarese phonology is based on Jukes (2005).[3]


Makassarese has five vowels: a, e, i, o, u.


  • is written ⟨ny⟩ before a vowel, ⟨n⟩ before ⟨c⟩ and ⟨j⟩
  • is written ⟨ng⟩
  • is written ⟨j⟩
  • is written ⟨y⟩
  • only occurs in loanwords
  • The glottal stop only occurs in syllable-final position and is usually written as an apostrophe ⟨'⟩


All consonants except for can appear in initial position. In final position, only and are found.

Consonant clusters only occur medially and (with one exception) can be analyzed as clusters of or + consonant. These clusters also arise through sandhi across morpheme boundaries.

nasal/lateral voiceless obstruents voiced stops + r
m n ? ? l p t c k s b d ? ? r
mm nn ll mp nt ?c ?k ns mb nd ?g nr
?m ?n ?l pp tt cc kk ss ?b ?d ?g ?r

The geminate cluster /rr/ is only found in root-internal position and cannot be accounted for by the above rules.

Sequences of like vowels are contracted to a single vowel, e.g. sassa "to wash" + -ang 'nominalizing suffix' > sassáng "laundry", ca'di "small" + -i 'third person' > ca'di "it is small".

Current writing systems

Although Makassarese is now often written in Latin script, it is still widely written using Lontara script, which once was used also to write important documents in Bugis and Mandar, two related languages from Sulawesi.

1. Jawi script
2. Lontara script
3. Latin script
4. Makasar script
5. Bilang-bilang (counting script)


Some common words/phrases in the Makassar language, transcribed in the Latin script, are as follows ( ' = glottal stop):

Lontara Romanized Indonesian Translation
balla' rumah house
? bulu bulu body hair/fur
bambang panas hot/warm
cipuru' lapar hungry
? doe' uang money
? iyo iya yes
? lompo besar big/large
sallo lama / lambat slow / long (time)
tabe' permisi excuse me
tena tidak ada none
? karaeng raja king
apa kareba? apa kabar? how are you?
? lakeko mae? kamu mau ke mana? where are you going?
ballang belang get tanned
? botto' bau smelly
rantasa' jorok disgusting
co'mo' gemuk fatty
bella jauh far away
? ? gele'-gele' geli tickle
? kongkong anjing dog
jarang kuda horse
? bembe' kambing goat
ammotere' pulang ke rumah return home
angnganre makan eat

Historical writing system

Old Makassarese / Makassarese bird script
ISO 15924Maka, 366
Unicode alias

Makassarese was historically written using Makasar script (also known as "Old Makassarese" or "Makassarese bird script" in English-language scholarly works).[4] In Makassarese the script is known as ukiri' jangang-jangang or huruf jangang-jangang ("bird letters"). It was used for official purposes in the kingdoms of Makasar in the 17th century but ceased to be used by the 19th century, being replaced by Lontara script.

In spite of their quite distinctive appearance, both the Makasar and Lontara scripts are derived from the ancient Brahmi script of India. Like other descendants of that script, each consonant has an inherent vowel "a", which is not marked. Other vowels can be indicated by adding diacritics above, below, or on either side of each consonant.

Sample of a handwritten book, written in Makassarese using the Makasar script, of a diary of the Princes of Gowa. The palláwa punctuation signs, typical of this script, are drawn and colored in red, as well as a few proper names and some inserts in Arabic.
Museum display showing script comparison of Makasar (left), Lontara (center), and Bilang-bilang (right) at Balla Lompoa Museum, Sungguminasa, Gowa


Makasar script was added to the Unicode Standard in June, 2018 with the release of version 11.0.[5]

The Unicode block for Makasar is U+11EE0-U+11EFF and contains 25 characters:

Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
  0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 A B C D E F
U+11EEx 𑻠 𑻡 𑻢 𑻣 𑻤 𑻥 𑻦 𑻧 𑻨 𑻩 𑻪 𑻫 𑻬 𑻭 𑻮 𑻯
U+11EFx 𑻰 𑻱 𑻲 𑻳 𑻴 𑻵 𑻶 𑻷 𑻸
1.^ As of Unicode version 13.0
2.^ Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points

See also


  1. ^ Makassar at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Makasar". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  3. ^ Jukes, Anthony, "Makassar" in K. Alexander Adelaar & Nikolaus Himmelmann, 2005, The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar, pp. 649-682, London, Routledge ISBN 0-7007-1286-0
  4. ^ Pandey, Anshuman (2015-11-02). "L2/15-233: Proposal to encode the Makasar script in Unicode" (PDF).
  5. ^ "Unicode 11.0.0". Unicode Consortium. June 5, 2018. Retrieved 2018.

Further reading

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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