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Edmundo Luna

A Brief Glimpse into Balinese

Balinese is an Austronesian language of the Malayo-Sumbawan subbranch (Adelaar 2005), primarily spoken by 3.3 million people (as of 2000) on the islands of Bali, Lombok, and transmigrant communities in Sulawesi and elsewhere. In this presentation, I will discuss the ramifications of Austronesian alignment in Balinese, as even though its verbal morphology is not as robust as a Philippine-type language, strong hints are still present, especially when one considers the covariation between possible word orders and verb affixation. I will also discuss the lexical stratification present in Balinese, and the consequences that has for any potential language learners. Finally, I will introduce some basic vocabulary and phrases anyone who visits Bali will most likely hear.

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10 Comments

  • RonP says:

    Matur suksema, Edmundo! A very interesting presentation.

  • Thanks for the response regarding honorifics, Edmundo. When comparing those with Japanese, these look like child play because there are only 2 types of honorifics in Japanese in Korean, namely the language to show respect and another to show humility. I guess in Korean the usage is absolute and based upon one´s social status whereas in Japanese it depends upon the ¨uchi¨(inside) or ¨soto¨(outside) relationship of the person in question.I always had trouble working in Japanese companies because I had to use honorifics when talking about them directly but dropping the -san/sama respectful suffixes when talking about them to people from ¨outside¨. Thanks again for your attention and let’s keep in touch!! Let me know when you come to Osaka.

  • ecluna77 says:

    @anonymous: Yeah, Balinese honorific language requires an understanding of this mainly tri-layered lexicon and using it to both speak to AND refer to others from different castes. So, if you were a sudra, and you were talking with a Satria (from the 2nd ranking caste) AND a pedanda (high priest of the Brahmana caste)…

    To say “(Please) take/give the cigarettes for/to him”, depending on who the action is directed to, you’d say the following things:

    If you were talking to the Satria for the Pedanda’s benefit, you’d say:

    Ambilang lanjaran ring ida.
    take.H-TR1 cigarette.H OBL.H 3.H
    ‘(Please) take the cigarettes for him (the high priest).’

    If you were talking to the Pedanda directly, you’d say something like this:

    Titiang ngaturang lanjaran ring ida pedanda.
    1.H N-offer-TR1 cigarette.H OBL.H 3.H high.priest
    ‘I offer the cigarettes to (you) the high priest.’

    If the Satria were talking to you directly about himself, he’d say something like this:

    Jemakang bli rokone ento.
    take.L-TR1 older.brother cigarette.L-DEF that.L
    ‘Get me (older brother) those cigarettes.’

    So, as you notice, this requires a deep understanding of how these lexical layers dynamically interact and play out in these types of interaction. In fact, there are only a bona fide few lexical items that are explicitly “honorific”. Hope this helps.

  • Anonymous says:

    Hi Edmundo!
    Thanks for the awesome presentation. I’d like to know more about the honorifics, because my only references are Korean and Japanese, which wanna be like Balinese when they grow up!!! lol

  • ecluna77 says:

    @BrianLoo1: Yes, I do believe that casual Indonesian -in does come from Balinese, during a time when Balinese laborers (were they paid? Were they indentured? That is unclear to me.) were brought to the Jakarta area.

    Now, I didn’t have time in the video to bring this up, but Balinese has two different transitivizing suffixes: this -in, which overlaps with much of the functions of Indonesian -i, and -ang, which is more “causative” in nature.

  • BrianLoo1 says:

    Fascinating! I’ve always wondered if the -in suffix in Jakarta dialect is of Balinese origin? As in “ngapain?” or “kirain”. Seeing that it’s quite different from the Javanese suffix.

  • heatherjay94 says:

    This was very interesting to watch both as a Malaysian and a Korean speaker, seeing some of the similarities between Malay and Balinese, as well as how a stratified language with the added dimension of castes work 🙂 Thank you for the presentation!

  • ecluna77 says:

    Hai Lindsay jak Natashia! Niki luung sajan jerone ba mabali videone ken demenin. (Hi Lindsay and Natashia! It’s very good that you have watched the video and have enjoyed it.)

    As for resources, there aren’t too many in English, but if you want a good primer, one I could recommend is this:

    Spitzing, Gunter. 2002. Practical Balinese. Hong Kong: Periplus Editions Ltd. And you must have a good dictionary to go along with this – a good one in print is by the late N. Shadeg:

    Shadeg, Norbert. 2007. Tuttle Balinese-English dictionary. Hong Kong: Periplus Editions Ltd.

    But if you really want to go down the Balinese language rabbit hole, check out this grammar and dictionary from Barber, where he even has translations of Bible passages (!), which is quite incongruous considering that Bali is predominantly Hindu:

    Barber, C. C. 1977. A grammar of the Balinese langauge. Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Library.

    Barber, C. C. 1979. A Balinese-English dictionary. Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Library.
    Finally, there is an online source led by my friend Alissa Stern that is mostly an online dictionary (with entries from the Balinese speaking community), but has some other Balinese language resources as well called the BASABaliWiki (you can Google it). I also read the Balinese language forums on Kaskus from time to time to get updated on online forms of Balinese, esp. under the topic “Banjar Adat Bali”. A lot of it is sort of bro-ish nonsense, but you also get a sense of how young folks actually use Balinese today. I hope these help – and I’d be happy to talk more about this at a Zoom meeting if you’d like.

  • Matur suksema, Edmundo! This was really interesting. Second Natashia’s comment for further recommended resources. 🙂

  • Natashia says:

    This was super lovely! It really reminded me of reinvigorated my interest in learning Balinese instead of solely Bahasa Indonesia! Do you have any recommended resources to learn? I look forward to watching this one again!

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