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Cia-Cia: Indonesia's Local Tribe that Embraced 한글

Cia-Cia is one of the tribes in Buton Island, Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia.

- Credit: Image by storyset on Freepik -

Their local language is called "Bahasa Cia-Cia" (바하사 찌아찌아). This is spoken principally around the southern tip of the island.

Since it is a spoken language, they don't have an official alphabet which could lead to its extinction. Hence back in 2000, the government of Baubau city was trying to find the most suitable characters that could be used to document the language in the hope to prevent this. The Arabic script was considered to be used as it's already implemented in one of the languages spoken on the island - "Wolio". However, it turned out that not all consonants of the Cia-Cia language can be written in Arabic.

Eventually, after the "International Symposium on Archipelago Manuscripts" (2005) the Baubau City Government decided to collaborate with Hunminjeongeum Research Institute to create the Cia-Cia language curriculum using the Korean alphabet (Hangeul). As part of that, there was also an exchange program for some teachers, students and Cia-Cia's local residents. They were invited to South Korea; learned and experienced Korean education before applying the alphabet to their language.

Some teachers from Korea were brought directly to Bau-Bau to teach Hangeul. And to this day, this letter is still taught from elementary to the high school level.


Written by Ledi Angraeni M.

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