Basa Bali: Is learning Balinese a good idea?


Basa Bali, the language of the Balinese has some similarities with Bahasa Indonesia. It is though, a separate language in its own right. For people coming to Bali, or living in Bali, is learning Basa Bali worth the effort?


A recent thread of the expat forum, asks that exact question. Good point mentioned and it is true that in most areas of the islands nowadays, younger people can speak Bahasa Indonesia and some English. The need to learn Basa Bali, for getting things done, does not exist. My wife Ika does not speak, and does not want to learn Basa Bali. She can get by very well in Indonesian.

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A linguist I’m not, but I’d still like to learn some Balinese, as it adds spice to a casual conversation. Whenever I’m in a village and someone asks “Apa kabar?” and I respond “Becik becik kemantan,’ they break into laughter. The idea of a westerner speaking the lcoal language tickles them, and for that reason, it can be rewarding. I have also been in situations in the highlands and also here in Seminyak, where a 60 year old Balinese person cannot understand me, because they can’t speak Indonesian. Being able to pull up to a rice field on my motorbike, and chat with the old guy working in it, would be wonderful.

Anyone have tips of learning Basa Bali?