History of the Dictionary


Rather than “documenting” the Balinese language at a particular point in time, BASAbali (a collaboration of Bali's Udayana University, the Balinese Governor's Language Board, the Indonesian Language Agency for the Province of Bali (Balai Bahasa), the ARMA Museum, and scholars and individuals from around the world who have an interest in the Balinese language and culture) launched this wiki dictionary in 2014 to actively involve the public in developing an online accessible resource of how the Balinese language has been and is actually used today using multimedia to provide audiovisual cues and contextualization.

We started the wiki dictionary with a donation of Fred Eiseman's Balinese-English and English-Balinese dictionaries. We thank I Wayan Suarnaya ("Linud") for this donation along with Fred Eiseman's estate. Hard copies of Fred's dictionary are available at Ganesha Bookstore in Bali and from inter-library loan through Cornell University in the U.S. Lexicographers, linguists, and Bali lovers from all over the world heard our call and advised, edited, and helped structure the wiki. A Kickstarter campaign brought many more to support and enhance the wiki.

Andru Vallence of Tiny Mighty, who lives in a remote part of Spain, designed the wiki structure and got us thinking systematically about how to create a multimedia wiki dictionary that is both a Balinese-Balinese reference dictionary (able to accommodate several of the complex registers of Balinese) and a Balinese-English-Indonesian translation dictionary (with multiple interfaces). Yaron Koren of WikiWorks is taking us to the next level by modifying the wiki to include photographs, encyclopedic descriptions, and more nuanced register searches and entry.

As the public adds words, examples, and videos to the wiki, a team of Balinese linguists ensures its integrity. In February of 2015, the wiki was designated as Semantic MediaWiki’s wiki of the month. The public has contributed over 1,200 videos and thousands of sample sentences. Over 160,000 users have visited the wiki from all over the world. We can't possibly thank everyone who has contributed to the wiki but you will see their names when you search for words.

Today, the wiki relies on public contributions. We also have support from Cornell University's Southeast Asian Program, the Kamanya Foundation, the Indonesian Embassy in Washington, DC and others.

The wiki is managed by a fabulous group of Balinese scholars and editors.

Medicinal plant focus

With seed funding from Cornell University, the Educational and Cultural Attache of the Indonesian Embassy in Washington DC, and the Kamanya Foundation, we started an initiative to focus on Balinese medicinal plants. In this initiative, Balinese and international linguists, ethnobotanists, videographers, and photographers are helping to bring the knowledge of Balinese medicinal plants to life by drawing on traditional texts and modern resources including engaging the local community’s knowledge of how these plants are being used today. Here is an example. The wiki can be expanded to other subject areas, combining both a grassroots and an international orientation.

In addition to the regular wiki team, this group of wonderful language ambassadors is working on the medicinal plant initiative. We are especially grateful to contributions of plant photos from Deniek G. Sukarya, from his and Karin Sukarya's "3.500 Plant Species of the Botanic Gardens of Indonesia" and from their work with the Eka Karya Bali Botanic Gardens.