Balinese language is one dialect of West Malay-Polynesian group which is spoken in Malaysia, Indonesia to the East as far as Molluccas. This includes further variation of dialects spoken in Sumatra, Java, Madura, Bali, Kalimantan, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Philippine. Among those variation, more detail variation can still be identified.
Balinese language is one dialect that got various influences in the course of it's history, such as Sanskrit, Arab, Chinese, Dutch and English. Thanks to the writing which was already introduced since 9th century, pricisely in 882 AD which can preserve and keep the language more stable. Based on the writing we can traced back the lexicon and pattern of the language, although in it's small representation. During 9th to 10th century it was probably predominantly Sanskrit on the documented words. Starting 10th until 14th century the old Balinese language were recorded well on various inscriptions issued by the kings. From 14th century we know a bit difference language preserved on various manuscripts. This language was probably used only in writing, since it shows mixed old Balinese, old Javanese and Sanskrit. It is not well known yet what is the form of spoken language during the course of history. We could assume that it must be closed in term of pattern and lexicon to those used in writings. If we compare with modern version of spoken Balinese language, it sounds that older versions are much different. This version is now totally not spoken, except for dialogues of wayang puppet show and some traditional dances. For younger generation this version is not understood anymore.
Modern Balinese is the version that got the influence from Dutch, Chinese, and English. Modern Balinese language at least introduces further variation such as :
- Written language, as mentioned above mostly unknown for daily communication,
- Polite language ( Basa Alus ). This level introduces what is called "Alus Sor and Alus Singgih". Alus Sor means words that used to put the speaker's status lower than his/her speaking counterpart, and "Alus Singgih" is the words that used to put the position of his/her speaking counterpart at higher status,
- Formal language ( Alus Madia ), is a generally accepted language spoken at the public by some one as presenter, head of meeting, and among those do not know each other.
- Folk language ( Basa kasar ), is spoken by the largest part of Balinese and mostly among Sudra cast.
This level of language is related with the status of Balinese in cast system. Higher cast will be respected with special words that attributes their actions, possession, character and others. The difference between the level of the language is not in the pattern or grammatical rule, but in the level of lexicon. Due to this multi level layers of Balinese society, it has created a complex lexicon, especially in referring the relation between those casts.
Written language is closer to ancient Balinese language which used different affixation such as [ --in], [--im], and [ --na], and as mentioned above that the influence of Sanskrit was very strong. It is written in Balinese character which is an evolution of various local characters in India, but it is believed that the root of the influence was coming from Pallava scripts, then followed by Çera and Vengi scripts of South India.
Language and Castes
Other 3 groups will be discussed together, since it's difference is only at the level of lexicon. The first we think that it is important to give the idea about the difference of the words for each of the cast which is valid for their own cast. Below table give some example of the difference.
|Brahmana Cast||Kesatrya/Waisya casts||Sudra cast||English|
|Griya||Jero||Umah, Pondok, Kubu||House|
Sor - Singgih is the reflection of a way to respect other person, do not just because of the higher casts position, but it is also used to communicate with other person which is not closed. Because of this way of communication, many people said that Balinese language having a feudal nature. The problem for the phaedagogy is that there is no grammatical rule that can be used to explain the lexicological phenomenon, so it can only be apprenhened by learning every word within its contextual pharases. Such as Japanese language although introduces also the level such as Balinese, but from grammatical pattern it can be explained with rules. Take for example:
Have you eaten any meal?
|Moo tabetaka?||Suba madahar?||Folk language|
|Moo tabemashitaka?||Sampun ngajeng?||Polite/formal|
|Moo tabe ni narimashitaka?||Sampun ngiyunin?||High language|
To respect each other by adjusting the position of speaker/partner is used the concept that the partner be higher in position while the speaker be lower in position. Take for example the discussion between a Brahmaha cast and a lower cast for example sudra cast:
Sudra : Tu Ida Bagus, benjang wenten ring griya? = Tu Ida Bagus, are you available at home tomorrow?. Titiang wenten di kubu benjang = I will be at home tomorrow.
Brah. : Cang ada jumah buin mani = I will be at home tomorrow.
Please note that the words spoken by Brahmana is the folk language, a language only spoken between sudra cast and among their closed friend or relatives. " Titiang " means " I am " can not be classified as belong to what level, since it is used to refer himself when speaking with Brahmana, and " Tiang " when speaking with other higher cast and with those people whom are not closed with speaker. See between " griya " and " kubu ". Kubu refers to a very simple house, but when Balinese speak with higher casts or with strangers he/she will mention his/her house as "kubu", although the word "umah" is a representative of folk word. So, it is probably besides there are level of respectability, there is also a system of communication with the concept : " word for you and word for me" ( your respectfully and my humbleness ). The address "Tu" is from "Ratu" a very high rank only cited for God. It seems that the Brahmana or the priest in the past tried to up grade themselves to be the level of God. If we see in Japanese language there are something like this:
X o yonde agemasuka? = I call X for you ( your respectfully)
X o yonde kuremasuka? = Would you please call it for me ( my humbleness )
The following discussion will not cover above version of the language since it will need a very big deal of discussion, we will just give the introduction by using the low Balinese language with some discussion with formal language. We hope at other time will be able to present more comprehensive Balinese language. To give the idea about the pattern or grammatical aspect of Balinese, we need to discuss about the word formation ( conjugation ) with simple composition of sentence and it's structure.
Until now the complete dictionary of Balinese is not yet available. The first Balinese dictionary was composed by Dutch scholar Dr. H.N. Van der Tuuk between 1872 - 1894. This dictionary listed various Balinese words with the explanation from Old Javanese to Balinese and to Dutch. It is called Kawi - Balineesch - Nederlandch Woordenboek in 4 volumes. The problem is that the list was not composed alphabetically, so it would be very difficult to search for a word.
Currently available small dictionary composed by Kersten, and I.G.B Sugriwa which are available in bigger bookstores here in Denpasar, Bali. One department in Udayana University of Denpasar which is aimed to study and develop the heritage of Balinese language is probably not very active in collecting, and publishing the new effort toward the publication of Balinese language dictionary. It is well realized that the practical use of Balinese is not as important as Indonesian and far from Japanese or English or other international language, due to the contribution of Balinese to the world heritages is not yet significant. That is probably why there is not any one who is interested in studying more about the language. As the other languages, Balinese language introduces also the form of infinitive and derivative. Derivative is formed from infinitive with nasalization and affixation. Nasalization is the most important formation from infinitive into transitive verb which will be directly conjugated with the affixation. Below will be discussed these two important etymology.
Infinitive get nasal sound such as /m/, /n/, /ng/, /nge/, and /ny/ to form transitive or intransitive verb.
Words beginning with /t/, /d/ got nasal /n/ and /t/, /d/ assimilated:
Tembok = wall --> Nembok = constructing wall
Damprat= shout --> Namprat = shouting at
I Made nembok = I Made is constructing wall
Words beginning with /p/, /b/ got nasal /m/ and /p/, /b/ assimilated:
Pancing = fishing kit --> Mancing = doing fishing
Bading = back --> Mading = flipping over
I Made mancing di tukadé = I Made is fishing in the river.
Words beginning with /s/, /c/,/j/ got nasal /ny/ and /s/, /c/,/j/ assimilated:
|Jarah = confiscate||Nyarah = confiscating|
|Sambung = tie||Nyambung = tying|
|Catet = record||Nyatet = recording|
|I Made nyambung tali = I Made is tying the rope|
Words beginning with vowels got /ng/
|Abas = cut (grass)||Ngabas = cutting grass|
|Intuk = pounder||Ngintuk = poundering|
|Upah = fee||Ngupah = hiring|
|Ewer = joke||Ngewer = kidding|
|Empuk = big mouth||Ngempuk = lying|
|Oleg = swing||Ngoleg = swinging|
Words beginning with weak vowel of /e/ also got /ng/, where /e/ is normally not written, when it got nasalization /e/ become strong
|(e)juk = catch||Ngejuk = catching|
|(e)bor = drill||Ngebor = drilling|
|(e)koh = reluctant||Ngekoh = being reluctant|
Words beginning with /l/, /r/, got nasal /nge/
|Lampah = walk||Ngelampah = walking|
|Rembug = discuss||Ngerembug = having natter|
|Lantur = continue||Ngelantur = continuing|
Words beginning with /k/ got nasal /ng/, and /k/ assimilated
|Kamar = room||Ngamar = hospitalized|
|Kecor = flow||Ngecor = flowing|
|Kacir = run||Ngacir = running|
Balinese language introduces affixation. This affixation consist of independence morphemes which has no meaning by themselves unless they are conjugated with infinitive, or nasalized infinitive. This affixation consist of pre-fix such as [ma---], [pi---], [ka---], and others, in-fix such as [-in-], [-im-], [-um-], and [-y-], and sub-fix such as [--an], [--in], [--né], [--é], [--a], and others.
Any word including affixation ending with /a/, the /a/ is to be read as /e/ as in arena or a book in English. Although pre-fix is already conjugated for example [ma] + [tapa] = [matapa], is to be read [ metape ].
Pre-fix [ ma -- ] to be conjugated with infinitive or nasalized When it is conjugated with infinitive it forms the verb, while it is not always need [ma--] for nasalized word if not to give an emphasize to the action. Some words do not need [ma--] in the spoken version, since it sounds funny. But we could not list the words here, it must be learnt by word, since it is no rule.
[ma --] forms transitive verb meaning emphasizing the action:
|Tembok = wall||Manembok = constructing wall|
|Damprat = shout||Manamprat = shouting at|
|Abas = cut (grass)||Mangabas = cutting grass|
|Juk = catch||Mangejuk = catching|
I Nyoman manembok umah = I Nyman construct the wall of the house
[ma --] meaning to have
|Tikeh = mat||Matikeh = having mat|
|Tembok = wall||Matembok = having wall|
|Bok = hairs||Mabok = having hairs|
|Baju = shirt||Mabaju = have shirt|
Dipane matikeh plasa = the bed has plasa mat
Umahe matembok batu = the house has stone wall
Pre-fix [pi--] form the noun. In spoken language it is often replaced with [pa --]
|Tutur = advise||Pitutur = the advise|
|Keneh = thinking||Pikeneh = the thinking|
|Dadab = process||Pidabdab = the process|
|Uning = know||Piuning = announcement|
When [pi]+[infinitive] got pre-fix [ma--], than it changes into transitive verb again
|Tutur = advise||Bapa mapitutur teken cai = Dad advises you|
|Keneh = thinking||Ia mapikeneh tuling melah = He think unfair|
|Dadab = process||Karyane mapidabdab sapuniki = The ceremony does the process like this|
|Uning = know||Pemangku mapiuning ring panjake = The Pamangku announces to the people.|
Please note that only some words that can be conjugated with [pi--].
Pre-fix [ka--] form passive structure, and some means "unintentional action both done or intimidation"
|Tembok = wall||Katembok = to be walled, or unintentionally walled or will wall if you ..................|
|Juk = catch||Kajuk = to be caught, or unintentionally caught or will catch if you .......................|
|Tombplog = collide||Katomplog = to be collided or unintentionally collided or will collide if you .......................|
|Jemak = take||Kajemak = to be taken or unintentionally taken, or will be taken if you ..........|
Durin umahé katembok = Back of the house has been walled
Durin umahé katémbok sawiréh ada céléng lepas = Back of the house unintentionally walled since there is wild pig
Durin umahé katémbok yén céléngé ngeléb dogén = Back of the house will be walled if your pig is always roaming.
Sub-fix [--a] forms passive structure
|Juk = catch||Juka = to be caught||Siapé juka||The chicken is caught|
|Ambil = take||Ambila = to be taken||Tasé ambila||The bag is taken|
|Alap = harvest||Alapa = to be harvested||Biuné alapa||The banana is harvested|
|Simpan = save||Simpena = to be saved||Pipisé simpena||The money is saved|
Manya words before getting [--a] must be affixed with [--an], and [--an] changes into [--ang]
|Asah = plain||Asahanga = to be made plain|
|Entung = throw||Entunganga = to be thrown|
|Antep = collide||Antepanga = to be collided|
|Madahar = eat||Pedaharina = to be nurtured|
|Melaib = run||Pelaibanga = to be abducted|
Natahé asahanga tekén I Ketut = The floor is made plain by Ketut
Bukuné entunganga tekén Nyoman = The book is thrown by Nyoman
Sub-fix [--né] indicates possession or definite article
[--né] as possessive without directly mentioning the owner
|Bapa = Dad||Bapanné = his/her dad||Bapanné teka mai = his/her dad is coming here|
|Biyu = Banana||Biyunné = her/his banana||Biyunné ento nasak = That banana is ripe|
|Nasi = rice||Nasinné = his/her rice||Nasinné pasil = his/her rice is stale.|
If the possessive is followed by their owner, personal or impersonal ending with vowel got [--né], [--né] changes into [--n], while the owner or personal or impersonal ending with vowels got [--né], and ending with consonant got [--é]
|Bapan Ketuté teka ibi = Ketut's dad came yesterday|
|Biyun Nyomané ilang = Nyoman's banana was lost|
|Nasin Wayané pasil = Wayan's rice is stale|
If the possessive is followed by their owner, personal or impersonal ending with consonant got nothing, while the owner or personal or impersonal ending with vowels got [--né], and ending with consonant got [--é]
|Umah Ketuté gedé = Ketut's house is big|
|Natah Nyomané kedas = Nyoman house floor is clean|
Sub-fix [--né] as definite article. Words ending with vowel got [--né], and words ending with consonant got [--é]
|Bapa = Dad||Bapané = the dad||Bapané ané teka = The dad who is coming|
|Biyu = Banana||Biyune = the banana||Biyuné ané ilang = the banana that lost|
|Arit = Sickle||Arité = the sickle||Arité dija = where is the sickle?|
Sub-fix [--an] form various meaning. [--an] after conjugation changes into [--ang]
[--an] means doing something for others
|Juk = catch||Jukang = catch for .......||Wayan ngejukang Made siap = Wayan caught chicken for Made|
|Jemak = take||Jemakang = take for ...||Made nyemakang tiang nasi = Made took rice for me|
|Gambar = draw||Ngambarang = drawing for ..||Nyoman gambarang Ketut bunga = Nyoman drew flower for Ketut|
[--an] forms transitive verb
|Sampat = Sweep||Sampatang = sweeping||Ketut nyampatang luhu = Ketut sweeps the wastes away|
|Entung = Throw||Entungang = throwing||Made ngentungang batu = Made throws stone|
|Galang = clear||Ngalangang = make clear||Wayan ngalangang kamar = Wayang made the room clear|
There is no rule to indicate which of the words be classified as each of above [--an]. It can only be learnt by word.
Sub-fix [--in] forms verb with various meaning
|Amplas = glass paper||Ngamplasin = rub with glass paper||Nyoman ngamplas patung = Nyoman rubs the sculpture with glass paper|
|Jagur = puch||Nyagurin = giving punch||Ketut nyagurin timple = Ketut punch his friend|
|Siram = pour||Nyiramin = pouring||Wayan nyiramin tanaman = Wayan pouring plants|
|Idup = live, on||Ngidupin = switch on||Bapa ngidupin TV = Dad switched on TV|
|Sampat = Sweeper||Nyampatin = sweeping||Made nyampatin natah = Made swept the floor|
In-fix [-in-] form various meaning
|Tandur = plant||Tinandur = various plants||Sarwa tinandur mokoh = All plants grow well|
|Tuut = follow||Tinut = obedience||Ketut anak tinut = Ketut is obedient man|
|Tunggal = one||Sinunggal = oneness||A lan B singunggal umah = A and B have one house|
|Pandita = priest||Pinandita = priesthood||Nyatwaang pinandita = discuss about priest|
In-fix [-um-] form abstract noun
|Dadi = to become||Dumadi = reincarnation||Sang dumadi tan kauningin = Who is reincarnating is not known|
|Ton = see||Tumon = visible||Bintangé tumon asiki = The star only visible one|
|Ganti = fate||Gumanti = truth||Niki gumanti sweca = This is really blessing|
|Tuuh = age||Tumuwuh = long live||Abian tumuwuh makelo ngasilang = Long live plant give late result|
There are not many word that can be conjugated with [-in-] and [-um-]. In daily conversation these affixations are not productive except for poetic phrases. It is mostly used in writing version of the language
Adjective is to be placed after the noun
|Buku putih||= White book|
|Buku putih tipis||= White thin book|
|Buku putih tipis mael||= White thin and expensive book|
The most important character or adjective of the noun be placed directly after the noun, while the other characters needed to limit the choices can be put afterward. For example: " Buku putih tipis mael. " This phrase indicate that the most important character of the book that is " white " one has to focus his attention to the " white book " Since there could be many white books, you can take the thin one. May be there are many thin books, but you can take the expensive one.
Adverb can be formed by repeating the word or just used as it is, depend on the emphasizing of the action.
|Keras = loud||Ngomong keras-keras = speak loudly|
|Adeng = slow||Jalan adeng-adeng = walk slowly|
|Tegeh = high||Makecos tegeh-tegeh = jump highly|
If the adverb is not repeated it gives more emphasize on the natural character of the noun or subject such as:
Ketut ngomong keras, means that Ketut has the character to speak loudly.
Made majalan adéng, means it is the behavior of Made that he walks slow, not because he is tired or careful.
Degrees of Comparison
|Tegeh = high||Genjang = quick||Gancang = movable|
|Tegehan = higher||Genjangan = quicker||Gancangan = more movable|
|Paling tegeh = highest||Paling genjang = quickest||Paling gancang = most movable|
Wayan awakné tegeh = Wayan's body is high
Ketut awakné tegehan tekén Wayan = Ketut is higher than Wayan
Made awakné paling tegeh di kampung = Madé's body is the highest in the village.
Ka = to ( toward ), Uli = from, Antuk = by, about, on, Di = at, in, on, among, Betén = under, Duur = above, on, Tengah = among, between.
Sawireh, kerana = bacause, Nanging, sakéwala = yet, but, Yadiastun = although,
Niki = this, these, Nika = that, those, Asampuniki = such as this, Asampunika = such as that
Napi, apa = what, Pidan = when, dija = where, Nyen, sira = who, Kénkén = how
Subject + Predicate + Object
|Wayan ngaba buku putih tipis||Wayan is bringing white thin book.|
|Made nulis surat énggal-énggal.||Made is writing a letter hustily.|
|Nyoman negakin kursi coklat||Nyoman is sitting on brown chair.|
|Nyoman negak di duur kursi coklat||Nyoman is sitting on brown chair.|
|Ketut ngalap pohé ané kondén nasak||Ketut picked up the un-mature mangos|
Denpasar, early January 2003
I Made Terima
Bali Traditional House
Castes Social Layers
Early Chinese in Bali
Kinship With Long Line
Living Magic Belief
Ngaben Cremation Ritual
Tenganan Bali Age Village
See other people culture
Among various tour packages and tour options in Bali there are some tours which can be said always on the publications and interest a large part of travellers to Bali. Kintamani mountain tour sits at the first number as the most popular sightseeing tour, second is Taman Ayun and Tanah Lot tour, third is Uluwatu temple tour.