Original Japanese version
Balinese is one of many regional languages of the multiethnic country Indonesia. For the purpose of co-existing with the national language Indonesian, the status of the Balinese language in the island of Bali differs from, for example, the status of English in the United Kingdom.
Balinese is a language with a complex system of politeness levels, and depending on the situation and the person you are speaking to, the vocabulary will change accordingly.
We will introduce in simple terms the sociolinguistical features of the Balinese language.(1) The Balinese language in Indonesia
Balinese is spoken by 3, 800, 000 people (according to SIL and Ethnologue) throughout the entire island of Bali and neighbouring islands (Nusa Penida & the western parts of Lombok).
Indonesia is a multiracial country of around 300 enthnicities. With the forming of the Constitution of Indonesia, the language Indonesian, originating from the Malay language, was established as the sole national language for use as the official language of politics, education etc. Even in Balinese speaking areas, education is carried out in Indonesian starting from elementary education. At the present time, almost all Balinese speakers are also bilingual in Indonesian (Malay).
However, the Balinese language still holds the firm position of being the first language of overwhelming numbers of Balinese people in Bali. Excepting discourse in official bodies, the Balinese language is the sole language used in most situations at home and in the community, and is the first language of many Balinese children.(2) Balinese honorific language*The following explanation may become slightly complicated but please try to read through it from beginning to end.1. Balinese honorific vocabulary
Balinese vocabulary is split into two groups, respectful and not respectful (usual, all-purpose) vocabulary.
The honorific words are then further split into two sub-groups, respectful and normal class. The respectful class is then again split into three groups, polite language, honorific words (used to show respect to another person), and humble language (used to lower your own status). Please refer to the diagram below:
|I-----||Respectful vocabulary----------------------||-------||Respectful class||-----||Polite language|
|I-----||Not respectful vocabulary (usual, all-purpose)|
The respectful class of vocabulary (polite, honorific and humble) forms different 'honorific sets' along with the normal class of vocabulary, like so:
Normal class--Polite language
Normal class--Honorific language
Normal class--Honorific language--Humble language
There are no respectful synonyms in the 'not respectful vocabulary' group.
|I-----||Respectful vocabulary-------------||----------||Respectful class||-----||Polite language||~~~~||I|
|I-----||Not respectful vocabulary (usual, all-purpose)|
So what 'honorific set' a word is part of shows what politeness levels are possible to show with that word. Let's take a look at examples of these various types:
|Meaning||'Honorific set'||Normal class||Polite language||Honorific language||Humble language|
In the Normal-Polite type of the 'Honorific set', there are two politeness levels possible; the normal class word 'ibi' is used for usual situations and the polite language word 'dibi' is used for polite situations.
However, in the second Normal-Polite example of the 'Honorific set', the single word 'rauh' can be used for three functions (polite, honorific and humble) which the word 'teka' is used for usual situations.
In the third example the word 'gelem' is used for usual situations and in humble language (speaking about your own illness or the illness of a member of a group you are part of), and 'sungkan' is used as respectful language.2. Balinese grammar
What type of honorific language you use depends on the situation and the social position (caste and social class) of the speaker, the listener and the person you are talking about.
For example, if you wanted to say 'He was ill yesterday', you could construct a number of different sentences differing in politeness level, depending on your choice of words from the 'Honorific set': 'ia-ida-ipun' (he/she), 'gelem-sungkan' (ill/sick) and 'ibi-dibi' (yesterday).
Casual style: Ia gelem ibi - He/She was ill yesterday
(using the normal class for all three words)
Polite style: Ida sungkan dibi - He/She
(honorific) was ill
Polite style: Ipun gelem dibi - He/She
(humble) was ill
Looking at the above three sentences, you can see that there are two types of politeness levels, Casual style (Biasa) and Polite style (Alus). The first sentence is in the casual style, and the second and third are in the polite style. The casual style is made from vocabulary from the normal class and/or not respectful vocabulary (usual, all-purpose), and the polite style is made from vocabulary from the respectful class, namely polite, honorific and humble language (humble also includes not respectful vocabulary [usual, all-purpose]).
|I-----||Respectful vocabulary||----------||Respectful class||-----||Polite language||-----||I|
|I||I||I------||Honorific language||-----||I||---->||Polite style|
|I||I-----||Normal class||-----||--------||--------||--||----->||Casual style|
|I-----||Not respectful vocabulary (usual, all-purpose)||------||------||------||-------||------||--||----->||Casual style, Polite style|
Simply put, the casual style is mainly used among people with a close relationship, such as friends and siblings, or by superiors when talking to subordinates/inferiors/juniors; and the polite style is used amongst strangers and by inferiors when talking to superiors. Who is inferior or superior has until now, mainly been decided by caste, but recently elements such as age and position in the community, area or workplace are taken into account. In other words, strangers not belonging to a caste will generally both use the polite style.
Furthermore, elements such as the situation (whether it is public, private, official etc) and the object particular vocabulary is referring to all play a role in the decision of what style to use.
These materials mainly focuses on the polite style, which foreigners in Bali can use without risk of offending.