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What language do they speak in Bali?

Balinese people during Hindu ceremony

Plan to visit Bali in the near future and wondering what language they speak in Bali? Keep reading as we will discuss this topic in detail in this blog post.

Due to its popularity as one of the most visited holiday destinations in the world, people in Bali learn to speak many foreign languages such English, French, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and so on. Many travel agents provides professional tour guides who specialize in different foreign languages. English is the most common foreign language in Bali so if you speak this language, you won’t have any problems communicating with most people in Bali.

Bahasa Indonesia or Indonesian language

Bahasa Indonesia is the national language of Indonesia, widely spoken across the country including in Bali. Its simplicity (learn more about Indonesian’s simplicity here) and its popularity makes Indonesian the most common local language spoken in Bali. Balinese and Indonesians are appreciative if foreigners speak their language even basic sentences. Here are some basic sentences that you can try when you are in the country.

IndonesianEnglish Translation
Apa kabar?How are you?
Baik-baikI am fine
Selamat pagiGood morning
Selamat siangGood (early) afternoon
Selamat soreGood (late) afternoon
Selamat malamGood evening
Terima kasih/MakasihThank you
Sama-samaYou’re welcome
Nama saya JohnMy name is John
Saya dari AustraliI am from Australia
Saya tinggal di CangguI live in Canggu
Berapa harganya?How much is the price?
Bisa kurang?Can you lower the price?
Saya tidak punya uangI don’t have money

Bahasa Bali or Balinese language

Bahasa Bali is a local language widely spoken in the province of Bali. This language is mostly used by fellow Balinese to communicate to each in other in daily conversations as well as formal situations that involves Balinese traditions such as in traditional Balinese wedding, village meetings, and announcements in temple ceremonies. You will see Bahasa Bali in road sings along with their Indonesian translations. It also can be heard in the Bali’s I Gusti Ngurah Rai airport in its announcements.

There are three levels of Bahasa Bali: halus (high), madya (middle), and kepara (low). Halus Balinese is used to speak to people in higher castes or on special events such as wedding and temple ceremonies. Madya is normally for speaking to strangers, parents or teachers. Lastly Kepara is used in daily conversations with friends. Not all vocabulary has all three levels. For example, for the expression “how are you?”, “punapi gatra?” is used for both halus and madia, while “kenken kabare” is for kepara.

Want to impress Balinese people with some phrases in Bahasa Bali? Here are some important phrases that you can try when you are in Bali. These phrases are in madia or halus Balinese. In general, Balinese people are very tolerable with foreigners speaking less preferable Balinese, but as a Balinese myself, I am more impressed to hear halus/madia Balinese from foreigners.

Bahasa BaliEnglish Translation
Punapi gatra?How are you?
Becik-becikI am fine
Rahajeng semengGood morning
Rahajeng siangGood (early) afternoon
Rahajeng soreGood (late) afternoon
Rahajeng wengiGood evening
(Matur) suksmaThank you
Suksma mewaliYou’re welcome
Wastan tiang JohnMy name is John
Tiang saking AustraliI am from Australia
Tiang meneng ring CangguI live in Canggu
Aji kude niki?  How much is the price?
Dados kirang?Can you lower the price?
Tiang ten medue jinahI don’t have money

Other local languages in Indonesia

As one of the wealthiest provinces in Indonesia, Bali has many transmigrates from other places across the country. They bring their cultures and languages with them. Some common local languages heard in Bali are hear Javanese, Sasak (from the neighboring island Lombok), Sundanese, and Maduranese.  

Conclusion on what language do they speak in Bali.

Bali is linguistically diverse. Most common languages are Indonesian, the official language of Indonesia and Bahasa Bali, the local language used in the province of Bali. Due to its tourism industry, many Balinese people learn other foreign languges such as English, French, Japanese, Chinese, Korean so they can communicate and guide tourists from those countries. In addition, other local languages such as from other parts of Indonesia Javanese, Maduranese, Sundanese, and Sasak  also contribute to language diversity in Bali.

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