Bali Island

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Balinese Language

Balinese language is another language entirely, with a completely different vocabulary and grammar and much more complex rules for its use. Balinese is greatly complicated by its caste influences. There's high Balinese, low Balinese and even middle Balinese, plus a number of variations of the three. Middle Balinese has an even more restricted vocabulary. It's mainly used when one wishes to be very polite but doesn't want to emphasize caste differences. Initially a conversation between two strangers would commence in the high language. At some point the question of caste would be asked and then the level adjusted accordingly.

Whenever there are trends of emphases of a greater democratization in public society, any vestiges of apparent feodalism give way to modern movements for democracy equality and non-discrimination; this also in areas where status or social-level in society has hitherto been much determined by the rather sensitive issue of the system of castes. Traditional norms as a kind of "language-obeisance" with relation to inter-class relationships, are on the decline.

Traditionally, however language rules in Bali had to be observed irrespective of age, position or sex. Traditional "rules of Caste" that had so long been considered an unflinching exigency are becoming less pronounced and less rigorous. Albeit, in the face of modern trends the determination of language-usage of certain categories of words, is still much espoused and very much in vogue in Bali. However, significant adjustments have been proposed at more recent Language-Seminars on the Island, and this, no doubt, will have its effects and repercussions in Balinese Society today.

Many seem enthusiastic in the promotion of a standard or common language for all (Basa Madia or Basa Mider); with an option in the selection of words from "a vocabulary of courtesy" which in times past had been limited perhaps to less than a thousand specific words.

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