Little is known about the early history of this language due to the lack of written records. The earliest written record of this language is Sureq Galigo, the epic creation myth of the Bugis people.
Another written source of Buginese is Lontara, a term which refers to the traditional script and historical record as well. However the earliest historical record of Lontara dates to around the 17th century and cannot be accepted as a reliable source of history since it was influenced by myths.
Prior to the Dutch arrival in the 18th century, a missionary, B.F. Matthews, translated the bible into Buginese, which made him the first European to acquire knowledge of the language. He was also one of the first Europeans to master Makassarese. The dictionaries and grammar books compiled by him and the literature and folkfore texts he published remain basic sources of information about both languages.
Upon colonization by the Dutch, a number of Bugis fled from their home area of South Sulawesi seeking a better life. This led to the existence of small groups of Buginese speakers throughout the Malay Archipelago.
Most of the native speakers (around 3 million) are concentrated in South Sulawesi, Indonesia but there are small groups of Buginese speakers in the island of Java, Samarinda and east Sumatra of Indonesia, Sabah and Malay Peninsula, Malaysia and South Philippines. This Bugis diaspora is caused by the migration since 17th centuriy which was mainly driven by continuous warfare situations. (The Dutch direct colonization started in early 20th century.)
Older texts, however, usually did not use diacritics, and readers were expected to identify words from context and thus provide the correct pronunciation. As one might expect, this led to erroneous readings; for example, bolo could be misread as bala by new readers.
These are part of the list of Buginese dialect:Bone (Palakka, Dua Boccoe, Mare), Pangkep (Pangkajane), Camba, Sidrap (Sidenreng, North Pinrang, Alitta), Pasangkayu (Ugi Riawa), Sinjai (Enna, Palattae, Bulukumba), Soppeng (Kessi), Wajo, Barru (Pare-Pare, Nepo, Soppeng Riaja, Tompo, Tanete), Sawitto (Pinrang), Luwuk (Luwuk, Bua Ponrang, Wara, Malangke-Ussu).