Jul 17, 2008

How to greet in Bali - Cara salam di Bali

Well, after the "interesting" tidbits I've presented so far for Balinese, I guess it's time to present something a bit more practical.

When you visit Bali and try to talk with some of the locals, many of them may know a minimal amount of English (or other languages in the more touristy areas) - sometimes this amounts to a simple "Hello Mister!", even if you're a woman. (Kids love saying this - and you may soon get a bit annoyed by this, believe me.) However, it's always better if you can speak to them in Indonesian, at least. In order to start of this conversation, you'll need to know the following:

Selamat (time of day).

What do we put in the "time of day" slot? Here are some possibilities:

pagi: 'morning' (from 6 AM - 11 AM)
siang: 'day' (from 11 AM - 3/4 PM)
sore: 'late afternoon' (3/4 PM - 6/7 PM)
malam: 'evening' (7 PM and later)

And then the simple 'hello' - Apa kabar? (literally, what's the news?)

The appropriate responses to this are: Baik (well, fine), bagus (good), lumayan (just so-so; alright), or even lumayan bagus/lumayan baik (good enough/fine enough). The first two can be further modified by the adverb sekali 'very', e.g. baik sekali 'very well' and the noun kabar 'news', e.g. kabar baik (sekali) '(very) well'.

Now, to introduce yourself, you say

Nama saya ____.
'My name is _____.'

Notice that the possessor saya 'I, me, my' comes after the possessed nama 'name'. Also, a copula is not necessary in Indonesian.

To ask "What's your name?", you say

Siapa nama Anda?
Siapa namanya?

Literally "who is your name?"

Siapa means 'who', and this is the correct thing to say at this point.

'you' is interesting: it supposedly has its origins from Japanese anta, and it's considered to be extremely formal but impersonal, so the rule of thumb is to wean yourself away from this pronoun as soon as you can call your addressee something else. Of course, if you're in a highly formal situation, it's better to use this pronoun.

The alternate way is to say namanya, which literally means "the name" or "his/her name". (The suffix -nya is extremely difficult to define in a succint manner - I'll put up a future post about this.) In this situation, since you are speaking directly to your listener, he or she will know exactly whose name you are asking about. However, if you point to someone else, then the meaning changes to "what's his/her name?"

To sum up, this is how you greet and introduce yourself in Bali (and elsewhere in Indonesia) using Indonesian:

Selamat _____.
Apa kabar?
Nama saya _____.
Siapa nama Anda?/Siapa namanya?


That's all fine and dandy. However, what if you encounter a person who only seems to speak Balinese, like a child who's not in school yet or an elderly person? The situation is a bit more complex because Balinese is a langauge with multiple speech levels or speech styles, which change depending on the status(es) of not only the person you're talking to, but also the person you're talking about.

We can at least divide Balinese into three styles: Low, Middle, and High. The speaking conventions may be summed up like this: Low - used for intimates and people of inferior castes; Middle - mostly used for people who do not know each other's caste(s), as well as talking about people of higher caste while speaking to lower caste addressees; High - used for people of higher caste, and large audiences.

To begin your greeting in Balinese, nowadays many people use the traditional benediction phrase Om Suastiastu 'May all be well', as I explained previously in my Aksara Bali post.

Immediately afterward, people usually ask each other's names, since there is a lot of caste information contained in personal names. So, let's ask this appropriately in Balinese. If we see someone besides a child, we should ask either:

Sira wastane?
Sira pesengane?

Sira is 'who' in Middle and High Balinese, while wastane is 'the name' (cf. namanya) in High and pesengan is 'the way one is addressed' in Middle Balinese. (One can also say sira parabe where parab = 'name' in Middle Balinese, but I've never heard this used.)

The response is:

Wastan tiange/titiange ____.
(tiang (M)/titiang (H) 'I, my, me')

With a child, the situation is a bit more flexible - back then, one had to speak high or middle to someone of higher caste, especially nobles and high priests, even if they were still children. Nowadays, this isn't so stringently enforced.

In most cases, you can use the Low version of this question, which is:

Nyen adane?

You can immediately see the different between the Low vs. Middle/High speech styles - every word in this question is different. Nyen is 'who' and adan is 'name' in Low Balinese. Low Balinese in general contain words that are Austronesian in origin (compare adan to ngaran in Pangasinan [Philippines] and pa-ngalan in Tagalog).

The response in this case is:

Adan tiange/cange ____.

(Be careful when referring to yourself as cang [chang], which is Low Balinese.)

Of course, the addressee will probably say the following names:

Wayan/Putu, Made/Nengah/Kadek , Nyoman/Komang, Ketut

These are birth order names, so you would be immediately given one of these names as soon as you're born: Wayan/Putu for the first-born, Made/Kadek/Nengah for the second, Nyoman/Komang for the third, and just Ketut for the fourth. After the fourth, the cycle starts again. After these birth order names are one or more given names. (Family names/surnames are not used in Balinese culture; rather, they practice teknonymy, which is renaming themselves "Father of X/Mother of X" once they have children.)

These names are usually indicative of Low caste, so you can use Low Balinese a bit more freely at this point (unless they explicitly say otherwise).

However, if they respond with the following, e.g. Dewa, Agung, Gus, Dayu, Cokorda, Anak Agung, and others, these are (usually) people who are of higher caste. Thus, you should avoid casually using Low language around them - they will outright correct you if you misspeak.

Now that you've survived the struggle to ask someone's name in Balinese, you should ask how they're feeling, right? To say 'how are you', the forms are

L: Kenken kabare? (How's the news?)
M/H: Napi orti? (What's the news?) or Punapi gatrane? (How's the news?)

And to respond:

L: Biasa (do)gen. (Just 'fine' or 'normal')
M/H: Becik-becik. (Fine.)

Well, that's how you meet-n'-greet in Bali in a nutshell.

Tiang pamit.


Theresa said...

Selamat pagi.
Apa kabar?
Nama saya Theresa.
Siapa nama Anda?

This is great! It's alot like Malayu.

I know one other phrase that we can probably add to the conversation. "Uma belapa?" I don't know how it's spelt but it means "How old are you?" in Malayu. Would it be rude to ask people that?

This is very useful! Thanks alot, bang! That's short for "abang" which means bro in Malayu, is that the same as Indonesian? We use this alot in Singapore.

Ed said...

It's "umur(nya) berapa" (how old are you).

Also, "bang" is mostly used in Sumatra, but the accepted terms are different depending on your location: "bung" in West Java, "mas" in Central and East Java, and "beli" for the Balinese. I can't say for the other areas of Indonesia since I've barely had any exposure to those areas.

Theresa said...

Ah thanks!

Do the Indonesians have a standard form of Indonesian they use? Or the schools in different places teach different things?

Ed said...

There is a "bahasa Indonesia baku" (standard Indonesian) that is taught at any school in Indonesia - but the spoken varieties usually are very different, not only from bahasa Indonesia baku, but also from each other!