Baras is a language of coastal West Sulawesi Province. According to Valkama (1987:106, see also the sketch maps on pages 114, 115), Baras is spoken in two distinct locations: in the village of Salubiro (Karossa District), and in and north of the village of Bambaloka (Baras District).
In the first half of the twentieth century, Dutch linguists classified Baras as a dialect of Kaili. In fact one could even refer to Baras as ‘Ende Kaili,’ where ende is the local (Baras) word for ‘no,’ in keeping with the way that Da'a Kaili, Ledo Kaili and Unde Kaili are named.
However, there is both uninhabited forest and a provincial boundary lying between Baras and the Kaili homeland, and when the name Baras was re-encountered by the Grimeses in their survey of South Sulawesi, even without language data they were willing to grant it language status (Grimes and Grines 1987:59). In this way its classification as a separate language has come down to us in the present day, despite that Baras and Da'a Kaili are closely related. In one lexicostatistical study, Baras and Da'a scored 85% similar in basic vocabulary (Valkama 1987:105).
Population and Language Use
A survey conducted in 1985 noted that the number of Baras speakers, at least in the Bambaloka enclave, amounted to only about fifty households, or roughly 250 people, and even then people expressed concern that their language was dying out (Valkama 1989:107). On a brief visit to a Baras village in 2001, Yamaguchi confirmed their generally small numbers, but also left with the impression that at least some elementary school children could speak the language (Masao Yamaguchi 2012:pers.comm.).
Grimes, Charles E.; and Barbara D. Grimes. 1987. Languages of South Sulawesi. (Pacific Linguistics, D-78.) Canberra: Australian National University.
Valkama, Kari. 1987. Kabupaten Mamuju. UNHAS-SIL South Sulawesi sociolinguistic surveys, 1983–1987 (Workpapers in Indonesian Languages and Cultures, 5), edited by Timothy Friberg, 99–117. Ujung Pandang: Summer Institute of Linguistics.