Yesterday my linguistic professor revealed an interesting fact on Balinese to me. He said that originally we, Balinese have no greeting and other communicative expression in our language. Expression such as “Rahajeng semeng” equivalent to “good morning” in English, or “Rahajeng wanti warsa” equivalent to “happy birthday” in English, or even “matur suksma” equivalent to “thank you” in English is a recent invention in order to keep up with the trend of hospitality and manner.
Greeting in old Balinese way mainly consist of series of question to people we meet such as “Lakar kija?” equivalent to “where do you go”, “kuda suba ngelah nak cenik” equivalent to “how many children do you have”, “engken, nyak seger jumah” equivalent to “how is the family, is it OK?” In greeting Balinese put more stress on the attention that is given by enquiring the state of their or their family health, or enquiring their progress in career or situation in their workplace. In Bali, asking question shows that we care to the persons we talk to and that their happiness and problem are also ours.
What about privacy? The word “privacy” does not exist in Bahasa Bali (Balinese Language). Problem of an individual is always a problem of his/her family, and of course the problem of a family sometimes is a problem of a community.
What about “thank you”? Thanking someone for their help is an aspect that lack in Balinese culture. Balinese have a strong attachment to “take and give” concept. When someone helps us, we have an obligation to help him/her in the future. Someone help is a debt that have to be paid soon or later. And of course, words are not enough.