Balinese - Orientation

Identification. The Balinese live on the island of Bali, in the archipelago nation of Indonesia. Both their language, Balinese, and religion, Balinese Hinduism, reflect a Malayo-Polynesian culture influenced by Buddhism and Hinduism.

Location. Bali is located between 8° and 8°50′ S and 114 ° 20′ and 115°40′ E. The area is 5,580 square kilometers. The climate is tropical with two seasons, rainy between October and March and dry between April and September.

Demography. In 1989 the population of Bali was about 2,782,038, of which perhaps 5 percent were Chinese, Muslim, and other minorities. The annual population increase was 1.75 percent. Denpasar, the capital, had a population of 261,263.

Linguistic Affiliation. Balinese is an Austronesian language of the Malayo-Javanic Subgroup. Despite phonological similarity with the languages of eastern Indonesia, Java has been a stronger linguistic and literary influence. Balinese was influenced by Indian languages both directly and through contact with Javanese. The earliest (eighth century A.D. ) inscriptions found in Bali are in both Sanskrit and Old Balinese. Balinese has levels of speech that require speakers to adjust vocabulary to their relative caste position and reflect feelings about both the person spoken to and the subject matter spoken about. These levels are most elaborate when discussing the human body and its functions, with nine levels of vocabulary for some lexical items. Balinese script was derived from the Pallava writing systems of southern India.

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