Nias is an Austronesian language spoken on Nias Island in Indonesia. It is also spoken by small groups of people in the cities of Banda Aceh and Medan, and on the islands of Simeulue and Batu Islands. Nias is one of the North Sumatra languages, a group which also includes Acehnese, Batak languages, and Gayo.
Nias is one of the most endangered languages in Indonesia. In the 2010 Indonesian census, only 817,000 people reported speaking Nias, down from 1.2 million in 2000. Most Nias speakers are bilingual or trilingual, speaking Indonesian or another local language in addition to Nias.
Nias is an oral language with no tradition of writing. However, in recent years there has been an effort to develop a Nias alphabet and create written materials in the language.
Nias is a member of the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family. It is closely related to other Austronesian languages spoken in Indonesia, such as Acehnese, Batak languages, and Gayo.
Nias has a complex system of honorifics and age grades which are used to show respect. For example, there are different words for "I" which depend on the age and social status of the speaker.
Nias is an isolate within the Austronesian language family, meaning it is not closely related to any other language. However, it is thought to be related to the now-extinct language of the Lemba people, who lived on the island of Lemba in the 19th century.