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Bali is one of the former "Lesser Sunda Islands" now known as "Nusa Tenggara". And it is perhaps the most famous and unique of all the 17.508 islands that form a kind of land-bridge between the Asiatic mainland and Australia, known as the Indonesian Archipelago
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The Language of Bali

Whenever there are trends or emphases for a greater democratization in public society, any vestiges of apparent feudalism must need give way to modern movements for democracy, equality and non discrimination - this also in areas where status or social - level in society has hitherto been much determined by the rather sensitive issue of the system of Castes - Traditional norms as a kind of "language - obeisance with relation to interclass relationships, are on the decline".

Traditionally, language rules in Bali had to be observed irrespective of age, position or set. Traditional "Rules of Caste" that had so long been considered an unflinching exigency are becoming less pronounced and less rigorous.

Albeit, in the face of moderm trends the determination of language usage especially as regards the choice of certain categories of words, is still much expoused and very much in vogue in Bali. However, significant adjustments have beed proposed at more recent Language - Seminars on the island and this, no doubt, will have its effects and repercussions in Balinese Society today.

Many seem enthusiastic in the promotion of a standard or common language for all (Basa Madia or Basa Mider); with an option in the selection of words from "a vocabulary of courtesy" - which in times past had beed limited perhaps to less than a thousand specific words.

Traditionally also, language - usage and divisions in Bali have been sufficiently intricate, and sometimes a bit arbitrary; however it has long been a custom to base the choice of ones words from the various categories on the social relation between the person speaking, with respect to the person being addressed or spoken of. And it is the latter that serves as a basic for the following "Language categories" :

  1. The Basa Lumrah ("biasa" or "ketah") : used when speaking to people of the same level, as well as friends and family
  2. The Basa sor ("Rendah"): used to address non - caste people of a lower level (inferiors).
  3. The Basa Madia ("Mider"): a mixture of Basa lumrah and Basa Alus. It can also be dubbed the "Language of Courtesy"; and this is now perhaps the most common or fashionable on the island of today.
  4. Basa Alus: used among more cultured individuals (akin to B. Kromo in Java)
  5. Basa Singgih: used to address superiors, or people of high standing


  • When someone wishes to honor / respect the person being addressed, the language can be a mixture of Basa-singgih and Basa-alus; the same is the case when wishing to convey respect to a person one is speaking about
  • When speaking of oneself to people that merit respect, the language can be a combination of the Basa Sor and Basa Alus; the same is used when the speaker chooses to humble himself
  • Some have found it expedient to distinguish or limit Balinese word categories to but there:
    • The Ia or low language: the language used between initmates, equals or inferior.
    • The ipun or polite language: used when speaking of superiors, or in addressing superiors or strangers.
    • The Ida or High language: used when speaking to persons of caste.

Dictionaries and Grammars are still a rarity in Bali. Furthermore, Balinese is essentially "a spoken language"; though there are some written records, lontar documents and Balinese folkfore ("satuwa-satuwa"), which can serve as a valuable source for students engaged in language research. Hitherto, it is not easy to speak of any "set rules" as regards syntax or Balinese Grammar; and this obtains especially with the formation of certain words, e.g. the verbs.

Indeed, it has been said by a serious student of Balinese that "it is better not to speak or write about Balinese Grammar, because there aren't the fixed rules as may be peculiar to the western languages".

~~ to be continued (Balinese Grammar Digest)

just say: 'tiang uningin raus Bali akidik' or 'saya mengerti sedikit ucapan Bali' or 'i now little Balinese language'

This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

Dictionary database is made followed the contents of the old book titled: A Balinese Basic Vocabulary (N. Shadeg, S.V.D. M.A / 1977) printed by: Dharma Bhakti Denpasar

Source code and the database can be downloaded for free here: http://kamus.baliwae.com/pub

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