As part of a new social media campaign to celebrate linguistic diversity online throughout Asia, every week a different language activist and advocate will be taking turns managing the @AsiaLangsOnline Twitter account to share their experiences with the revitalization and promotion of their native languages. This campaign is a collaboration between Rising Voices, the Digital Empowerment Foundation, and the O Foundation.
Each week, the upcoming host will answer several questions about their background and will give a brief overview of their language. This Q&A is with Luh Ayu Manik Mas, a fictional digital superhero created by the organization BASABali, (@LuhAyuManikMas1) who will provide a sneak preview of what she will be discussing during her week as host.
Rising Voices: Please tell us about yourself.
Basabali.org is a Balinese language preservation community that utilizes the media of an online dictionary. The community was formed through the collaboration of Balinese language researchers, anthropologists, Balinese language instructors, lecturers, teachers, students, and the general public. The community aims to contribute to the preservation of Balinese as a local language of the Balinese people.
This dictionary is referred to as the BASAbali Wiki dictionary. The dictionary can be accessed via devices (e.g. laptops, tablets, smartphones) and is now available in the form of an Android-based application. There are several additional features in the dictionary such as virtual libraries (biographies, books, folktales, comics, places, lontar, short stories, and poems) and word games.
In addition to providing the online dictionary, basabali.org also holds several activities related to the preservation of Balinese Language, such as Middle School Projects, Indonesian Balinese English Wiki Reference Dictionary, Wiki Usada, and BASAbali Wiki Small Workshops. We also received some grants and prizes such as Linguapax Awards 2018, UNESCO Literacy Prizes 2019 and Nat Geo Early Career Grant 2019.
RV: What is the current status of your language on the internet and offline?
As a foundation engaged in preservation of Balinese languages, it is a challenge for us to invite more young people to take part in preserving the language. In the midst of the feeling of globalization and modernization, young people are now more often using English or other international languages in conveying their feelings or opinions on social media. We believe that young people are the bridge that will help local languages be sustainable. In this regard, we strive to make writings in Balinese on each of our social media channels so that young people can understand and want to be used also on their social media.
RV: On what topics do you plan to focus during the week that you’ll manage the @AsiaLangsOnline Twitter account?
The focus that we will discuss through this Twitter account is how we use a different approach in inviting people to preserve their local language. We will use the character of a female digital superhero (Luh Ayu Manik Mas) that we created to tell her experience in preserving regional languages and efforts to protect the environment. So that everyone can understand the story that she wants to tell, we will use three languages (English – Indonesian – Balinese). In addition we will also insert a Balinese meme or word game.
RV: What are the main motivations for your digital activism for your language? What are your hopes and dreams for your language?
Our hope in the future is that Balinese language is maintained and does not becomes extinct. We realize this effort is quite challenging amid the rapid development of the era and the demand for mastering English and other international languages. But we believe our efforts to preserve Balinese languages through digital platforms is the right first step to maintaining Balinese for sake of our children in the future. Hopefully this step can also be followed by other local languages especially in Indonesia.