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Nusa Dua beach, Badung regency, Bali - Indonesia

An introduction to the Balinese Language (Part 1)


February 02, 2009

For many years, visitors from all over the world have been attracted to the legend of Bali as the island of peace and have received a warm Balinese welcome. When the first time arriving here, you will be fascinated with how they welcome the visitors from abroad.

Bali is one of the most visited tourist destination in Asia and historically has been a focus of interest by Westerners because of its natural beauty and the friendliness of the Balinese people.


There are at least 3 spoken languages in Bali :

  1. English
    English is naturally the foreign language in Bali. But don't worry, almost all people who live near the places of interest in Bali and those who work in the tourism industry able to speak some English.

  2. Bahasa Indonesia
    There are at least 1200 languages ( or even more ) spoken in Indonesia, and the official national language in Indonesia is now the Bahasa Indonesia (often shortened to Bahasa, which means "language"), a daily language for communication between modern Indonesians. Bahasa Indonesia is relatively an easy language to learn and pronounce, with a simple and efficient structure (leaving out verb conjugations and tenses) and straightforward pronunciation. Almost everyone on Bali speaks Bahasa Indonesia ( except for elder people in the villages or for ceremonial / religious purpose, the Balinese People tend to use the Bahasa Bali / Balinese Language )

  3. Bahasa Bali / Balinese language
    Bahasa Bali is the native language of the Balinese people. The Balinese language has unusual sounds, like words that start with "ng", which Westerners find a little difficult to pronounce it correctly. Although Balinese also leaving out the verb conjugations and tenses, it does have a variety of social distinctions based on a form of caste system inherited from India in the distant past. As a result there are often several ways of saying the same thing, depending with whom you are speaking. An additional complication is that pronunciations can be vary from region to region, although most Balinese recognize the accents from other parts of Bali.

So why do we learn Balinese when everyone on Bali speaks Bahasa Indonesia ?

Usually, Balinese people don't expect a guest to be able to speak some of their language, but nonetheless they will be appreciate and be more overjoyed by your attempt to speak their language.

For whatever reason, trying to speak a little bit Balinese language will always surprised Balinese people and resulted in an immediate smiles and warmth (and often lower the prices when you bargain during your shopping activities) and invites lots of help in learning and practising the Balinese language.

Who knows ? If you could just try to remember at least 120 Balinese words or more, and practise it, of course, you might will get your chance to open doors of discovery in Bali as you would never have otherwise. (^_^)


Basic style and format :

Most of the problem in uttering the Balinese language by foreigners is caused by the westernization process of the spelling-out the native Balinese words. Most written Balinese words usually said in a different way by a foreigner so that no Balinese could even understand.

Starting from now, we will try to spell out the native Balinese words phonetically as in english words but in bold segments so that the words could sound as what they really sound in the real Balinese language, so anyone can read the words phonetically and be able to pronounce the words clearly (with a little practice, of course).

Notes : Make sure the part of the word which is not printed in bold is not pronounced.

For example : the word "Bli" (in Balinese language, literally means "Older brother") sounds like "Bleep" without the "p" sound at the end.

Here are some Balinese language pronouns for example so that you could start to learn the Balinese language instantly ...

English Balinese Pronounced
I, me Tiang Tea-young
You / He (older male) Bli Bleep
You / He (younger male) Gus Ghost
You / She (female) Gek Gecko
Mother / Mom Meme May-May
Father / Dad Bapa Bath-Power

To be continued ... (~_^)



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