What tongue speaks Bali
culture, nature, cruising, adventures and more
Bali Tour Packages Sulawesi Yogyakarta Bali Island



Language Group

Balinese Language in general and short practical aspect has been shortly described on the other page of this site, here the discussion is concerning one of the Central Prototype of Malay - Polynesia type, one big group of Autronesian language Prototype. Austronesian including a wide area from West tip of Sumatra up to Bismarck island in pacific and to the north from Formosa to Southern islands of Nusa Tenggara and Oceania. To simplify the groups of Austronesian below summary is appointed by linguists :

This is divided into 2 big groups which is mostly appointed by the expert on Linguistic.
I. The Formosa and North Philippine.
II. Malay - Polynesian Prototype ( later referred as MPP )

The MPP is divided into 3 large groups as follows:

  • West MPP, languages spoken in Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Sulawesi, and other dialects in Philippine,
  • Central MPP are the language dialects spoken in Maluku, Timor island, and Nusa Tenggara islands
  • East MPP, are consist of those language spoken in South Halmahera Maluku and New Guinea Prototype, and the Prototype of languages spoken at Oceania which is now the dialect of Oceanean.

With the reconstruction of words relating to their plants, fishing and settlement. For example some words that are exist both within West, Central and East Autronesian. Below table showing the reconstruction of lexicons of Austronesian relating to the sea transport and fishing, plants and domesticated animals.

West, Central, East MPP

Paresu / Padau

canoe roller
cross seat
bail out
basket fish trap
fish hook
West, Central, East MPP

Sugar Cane
Bread fruit

Compared some Balinese words such as : Tuba = poisson, Bubu = basket fish trap, Pedau = boat, Layar = sail, Talas = Taro, Ubi = Yam, Tebu = sugar cane, Nyuh = coconut, Lemo = citrus, Pandan = pandanus, Buah = areca.
These words are known at all area of Proto-type of Austronesian, with variation in phoneme level or without variation at all. Among those smaller groups of languages further variations or dialect can be still found especially the level of morphemic construction and phonemes. A dialectologist of Bali Prof. Dr. Wayan Bawa has succeeded in compiling the inventory of Balinese dialects in his report 1976/77 with the title " Bahasa Bali di Provinsi Bali" He was the professor of Linguistics at Udayana University whom dedicated the whole of his life for the subject. It is interesting to find beside various dialects that exist in Balinese language also the difference of intonation.

Sound of Bali

The group of intonation do not necessarily bring into one as a unit of dialect. Different intonation can be found between villages which is located only 10 kms away each other. While the same intonation can be found far away in a distance of 50 kms separately. The joke among Balinese about an intonation of a highland village near lake Batur called " Songan " village is often told. Their intonation is like a drifting water on a hanging thread, a the first phrase of their sentence is slow and then form a small ball on the tip of the thread then suddenly the ball fall in the spread of gravitation. In a village of central Bali some separate villages give too long intonation to phonemes / i / so it heard like / i / in English word " smile", while the rest of Balinese pronounce it as / i / in English introduction. It is often if 2 dialect speakers are involving in a discussion to laugh in mind of their partner's intonation. Some villages in Tabanan regency have an / a / too short, so the rule of verb formation is not followed. For example. Ngaplug = to collide. In general Balinese word formation it is formed into transitive phrase with prefix / ma / to form " ma + kaplung + an = colliding or collision. But they will shorten everything into " macaplaga" Unless this word is heard in contextual arrangement no one will understand what they mean by the Tabanan people. While the most dirty jokes come from the people living on the southern shore of Bali, especially in Jimbaran area. They pronounce / a / as American English " pass" But at present generation of Jimbaran they fully aware of their source of joke and try hard to adjust their pronunciation as other Balinese do. In case an other Balinese involve in discussion with this old Jimbaran type for sure he/she will not help laughing, because to most productive words such as " Pak " meaning " Sir ", baang meaning "ok", and in case it is pronounced with old Jimbaran dialect can mean women private part, for " pak ", and means "showing" for " baang ". The reader now may be able to construct this 2 words into a funny sentence by phrase of "Ok Sir". Thank to the dialectologists who have dedicated themselves to develop an inventory of dialects based on geography which will be a wealth of knowledge, especially for Balinese, as in the future with the presence of modern communication means as an interface of human being, writer have the opinion that this intonation and dialects will move toward homogenous sound.

Social Layers Influence

Beside the different due to geography and was probably caused by family relation inter-marriage among clan, Balinese after the arrival of Hindu and Buddhist influence, especially the 2nd influence from Java, a social layer called castes also giving specific color on the language. The cast tradition in Balinese called " Kasta" or " Warna" can be identified from his/her name As a discussion between 2 different castes will follow the tradition of " ways of respect" Like in Japanese language there are words for you and words for me. Words for you is the respectable words to refer the actions, characters, position of the respected person, especially for higher castes, and words for me are words for my humble persons. In Japanese between these 2 groups of words there are grammatical rule that can guide one to understand, but for Balinese there is no rule, only by practicing and memorizing the words, one can express her/his opinion with higher castes. A short Balinese grammer to learn at first step is provided here. A tour program which closest the village of Songan is Barong Dance Kintamani Tour, yet it is not reaches the village, need 10 kms further down to the fort of Mount Batur. A trip to Tabanan village can also be organized, even joining the traditional activities of one of the village. A short note on Jimbaran and Kedonganan villages as the fishing villages now have developed as tourist resort. While south central Bali villages who speak elongated / i / have not yet become a tourist resort, but can be changed a little bit the tour of north Bali by leaving Mengwi and Kedaton and add Sangeh northward to the villages of Buangga, Getasan, and Petang.

More development of Balinese language as the result of outside contact, castes existence and other aspects is presented in short at the other page of this site. Which influences were originated from Sanskrit, the ancient Indian language, Chinese, Arab, Dutch and English. So, the current spoken Balinese language is a language that basically an Austronesian root, separated thousand of years ago ( estimated 2.500 years ago ), developing special branches of Central Malay - Polynesian Regional languages and further developed into current Balinese language.

Garis Bali

Bali Age Village
Bali Traditional House
Balinese Language
Balinese Names
People of Bali
Castes Social Layers
Early Chinese in Bali
Indonesian Language
Kinship With Long Line
Language Dialect
Living Magic Belief
Marriage Tradition
Ngaben Cremation Ritual
Tantrayana Buddhist
Traditional Synbols Pratima
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.