Buginese script

Updated 8 September, 2017 • tags scriptnotes, buginese

This page provides basic information about the Buginese script. It is not authoritative, peer-reviewed information – these are just notes I have gathered or copied from various places as i learned. For similar information related to other scripts, see the Script comparison table.

Clicking on red text examples, or highlighting part of the sample text shows a list of characters. Click on the vertical blue bar (bottom right) to change font settings for the sample text.

For more details see: Character notes Script links

Sample (Buginese)

ᨔᨗᨔᨗᨊᨗᨊ ᨑᨘᨄ ᨈᨕᨘ ᨑᨗ ᨍᨍᨗᨕᨂᨗ ᨑᨗᨒᨗᨊᨚᨕᨙ ᨊᨄᨘᨊᨕᨗ ᨆᨊᨙᨂᨗ ᨑᨗᨕᨔᨙᨂᨙ ᨕᨒᨙᨅᨗᨑᨙ᨞ ᨊᨄᨘᨊᨕᨗ ᨑᨗᨕᨔᨙᨂᨙ ᨕᨀᨒᨙ᨞ ᨊᨄᨘᨊᨕᨗ ᨑᨗᨕᨔᨙᨂᨙ ᨕᨈᨗ ᨆᨑᨙᨊᨗ ᨊ ᨔᨗᨅᨚᨒᨙ ᨅᨚᨒᨙᨊ ᨄᨉ ᨔᨗᨄᨀᨈᨕᨘ ᨄᨉ ᨆᨔᨒᨔᨘᨑᨙ᨞

Key features

The Buginese alphabet is also known as Lontara (ᨒᨚᨈᨑ). See the table to the right for a brief overview of features, taken from the Script Comparison Table.

Buginese is an abugida, ie. consonants carry an inherent vowel sound that is overridden, where needed, using vowel signs.

The Buginese script characters in Unicode 10.0 are in the following block:

For more information see ScriptSource, Wikipedia, Omniglot, and the Unicode Standard.


ᨀ ᨁ ᨂ ᨄ ᨅ ᨆ ᨈ ᨉ ᨊ ᨌ ᨍ ᨎ ᨐ ᨑ ᨒ ᨓ ᨔ ᨖ

The Buginese block has 18 basic consonant letters, including one, [U+1A16 BUGINESE LETTER HA], introduced to represent an Arabic sound.

Syllable-final consonant sounds (normally ʔ and ŋ) are not written. Similarly, geminated consonants sounds (which are distinctive and frequent in Buginese) are not written, eg. ᨒᨄ can be read as lapa lava or lappa joint.

These omissions can lead to ambiguities in the written text that are exploited for word games in Buginese.

Consonant clusters

There are 4 characters used to represent pre-nasalised consonant clusters, ᨃ ᨏ ᨋ ᨇ in Buginese (but not Makassarese).

Otherwise, according to the Unicode Standard, Buginese doesn't mark clusters. There is no virama equivalent.


The inherent vowel, a, is typically pronounced ɔ.

vowel signs

Vowel-signs are combining characters added after a base consonant to override the inherent vowel with a different vowel sound.

The Buginese block has 5 vowel-signs (   ᨗ ᨘ ᨙ ᨚ ᨛ ), representing the sounds i, u, e, o, ə, respectively.

Independent vowels

Vowel sounds that are not preceded by a consonant are represented using [U+1A15 BUGINESE LETTER A] combined with a vowel-sign, eg. ənəng six.


The independent sound a is represented using [U+1A15 BUGINESE LETTER A] alone.

Vowel absence

Other than the characters representing consonant clusters mentioned above, Buginese has no way to indicate missing vowels between consonants or at the end of a word.

Context-based rendering


The only glyph shaping seems to be in connection with the iya ligature, + ◌ᨗ + ZWJ + [U+1A15 BUGINESE LETTER A + U+1A17 BUGINESE VOWEL SIGN I​ + U+200D ZERO WIDTH JOINER + U+1A10 BUGINESE LETTER YA]. The initial [U+1A15 BUGINESE LETTER A] is hidden in the ligature ᨕᨗ‍ᨐ.

Glyph positioning

The positioning of diacritics depends on the related base components, eg. compare ᨊᨗᨊ, ᨕᨗ‍ᨐ, and ᨐᨗ.

One vowel-sign,  ᨙ [U+1A19 BUGINESE VOWEL SIGN E​], is displayed to the left of the base consonant, although it is typed after the consonant, eg. ᨕᨙᨔᨙᨊᨙ eseneng Monday .

Odds and ends

A photo on Flickr shows a sign (associated with Makassar) with consonant clusters using what looks like  ᨘ [U+1A18 BUGINESE VOWEL SIGN U​] between the characters. There is also a syllable-final -r represented by [U+1A11 BUGINESE LETTER RA].

Still in the same picture is [U+1A04 BUGINESE LETTER PA], being used to represent the sound f.

Wikipedia mentions some recent proposals for diacritics to represent virama, anusvara, and glottal stop. The Unicode document repository has several documents proposing the addition of a virama character.

Everson also lists 6 punctuation marks, based on western semantics but with Buginese shapes, that are not in the Unicode block.

A number of proposals for extending the Buginese script to cover additional languages were raised in 2016.


Buginese has no native digits.

Text layout

Text direction

Buginese script is written in horizontally stacked lines. Characters run left to right inside a line.

In older journal text when space runs out on a page, scribes used to run the text into the margin and continue in bostrophedon arrangements.

Text delimiters

Words can be separated by spaces, or spaces can be used to separate units longer than words. In some texts words are not separated at all.

For separators at the sentence level and below, Buginese typically uses only one punctuation mark, [U+1A1E BUGINESE PALLAWA], which is equivalent to both comma and full stop in Latin transcriptions of Buginese.

The end of a section may be shown with [U+1A1F BUGINESE END OF SECTION].

Everson lists some additional punctuation marks, but these don't appear to be supported by Unicode.3


[U+1A1E BUGINESE PALLAWA] can also be used to indicate the doubling of a word or its root, according to Wikipedia. The Unicode Standard says that [U+A9CF JAVANESE PANGRANGKEP] may be used for this purpose.

Alternatively, the Unicode Standard says, repetition can be shown by duplication of the vowel sign, especially  ᨙ [U+1A19 BUGINESE VOWEL SIGN E​] and  ᨚ [U+1A1A BUGINESE VOWEL SIGN O​].

Line breaking

According to Everson, hyphenation can occur after any full orthographic syllable, but there are no details about how that works, or whether he actually means line-breaking, rather than hyphenation per-se.


No information.

Use the control below to see how your browser justifies the text sample here.

ᨊᨄᨘᨊᨕᨗ ᨑᨗᨕᨔᨙᨂᨙ ᨕᨀᨒᨙ᨞ ᨊᨄᨘᨊᨕᨗ ᨑᨗᨕᨔᨙᨂᨙ ᨕᨈᨗ ᨆᨑᨙᨊᨗ ᨊ ᨔᨗᨅᨚᨒᨙ ᨅᨚᨒᨙᨊ ᨄᨉ ᨔᨗᨄᨀᨈᨕᨘ ᨄᨉ ᨆᨔᨒᨔᨘᨑᨙ᨞

Character lists by language

The following is an incomplete list of languages and the number of characters they use. Buginese script doesn't appear in version 31 of CLDR's lists of characters (exemplarCharacters).

Click on the links to see a list of characters with names.


Consonants ᨀ ᨁ ᨂ ᨄ ᨅ ᨆ ᨈ ᨉ ᨊ ᨌ ᨍ ᨎ ᨐ ᨑ ᨒ ᨓ ᨔ ᨖ 18
Consonant clusters ᨃ ᨏ ᨋ ᨇ 4
Independent vowels 1
Vowel signs ᨗ ᨘ ᨙ ᨚ ᨛ 5
Punctuation ᨞ ᨟ 2
Total   30


  1. [Unicode] The Unicode Standard v10.0, Buginese, pp663-664.
  2. Wikipedia, Lontara alphabet.
  3. [Everson] Michael Everson, Revised final proposal for encoding the Lontara (Buginese) script in the UCS.
  4. Anshuman Pandey, Representing Sumbawa in Unicode
Last commit 2017-09-08 10:41 GMT.  •  Make a comment.  •  Licence CC-By © r12a.