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Balinese language is a completely different vocabulary and grammar and much more complex rules for its use. Balinese language is greatly complicated by its caste influences.

There are four different Balinese languages; each used by a distinct social class, each with a vocabulary of its own. Although each level shares numerous common nouns, many verbs referring to human activities and nouns designating human body parts differ.

The language of the Sudra caste is of ancient Malayo-Austronesian-Polynesian origin, utilizing many vernacular words from the aboriginal dialects of the eastern islands, particularly Lombok and Sumbawa. This coarse, low Balinese is the oldest language on the island; traces can still be found on the isolated island of Nusa Penida.

The high Balinese dialects of the Triwangsa classes are largely Javanese in origin, using a great many Sanskrit words derived from the court languages spoken widely on Java from the 10th century. This highly refined sub-language (basa alus) of about 1,000 words consists almost entirely of honorific levels of speech.

Reflecting the rigid Hindu caste system once in force here, another form, 'basa singgih', is used when speaking to high priests or when alluding to sacred objects or ceremonies.

A person of lower caste must use a posh high language - 'basa madia', the "Language of Courtesy" when speaking to a member of a higher caste, although today not many Sudra are conversant in this high Balinese.

The lower caste individual should, in turn, be replied to in low Balinese 'basa sor', the rough everyday tongue spoken in the marketplace. If a conversation begins in low Balinese and one later finds that the person addressed is of higher caste, acute embarrassment can occur. This is why Balinese initiate a conversation in the highest form of Balinese when speaking to strangers whose caste they do not know.

In time, a Balinese will ask, "Where do you sit?" (I.e., "What is your caste?") So s/he can adjust to the level of speech appropriate to the rank of the person addressed. Common Balinese (basa lumrah) is used when speaking to people of the same level, as well as friends and family.

There is also a sacred Sanskrit vocabulary employed only by high Balinese priests in their rituals, mantras, and formulas, as well as other vocabularies used in anger, to insult someone, or when referring to animals.

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