Batak languages

For the language of Palawan, see Palawan Batak language.
Sumatra, Indonesia
Linguistic classification:


ISO 639-2 / 5: btk
Glottolog: toba1265[1]


The regencies of North Sumatra, coloured to show the basic language locations. Batak speakers are in Aceh, neighbouring the Karo lands. The lands to the east were historically Malay kingdoms.

The Batak languages are spoken by Batak of North Sumatra, Indonesia.

Historically they were written using Batak script but the Latin script is now used for most writing.

There are considered to be two main Batak language groups, Northern Batak and Southern Batak. Simalungun has been considered an intermediary, but more recent studies suggest that it is a part of the Southern Batak group.[2] Within Northern Batak, a study noted 76% cognate words between Karo and Batak, 81% with Pakpak, 80% with Simalungun, and 30% with Malay (Indonesian).[3] Karo and Toba Batak are mutually unintelligible.

Mandailing and Angkola are closer related to each other than to Toba. The geographical influences on the Batak languages can be seen in the map to the right; Lake Toba separates the Karo from direct contact with the Toba.


  1. Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian, eds. (2016). "Toba–Batak". Glottolog 2.7. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.
  2. Comparative Austronesian dictionary Vol. 1. by Darrell T. Tryon, Shigeru Tsuchida et al. p421 et seq
  3. The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar. K. Alexander Adelaar, Nikolaus Himmelmann, p. 535

External links

Toba Batak test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator
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