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LINGUIST List 20.2134

Thu Jun 11 2009

Diss: Discourse Analysis/Socioling: Luna: 'The Semi-formulaic...'

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        1.    Edmundo Luna, The Semi-formulaic Nature of Balinese Sociopolitical Discourse

Message 1: The Semi-formulaic Nature of Balinese Sociopolitical Discourse
Date: 11-Jun-2009
From: Edmundo Luna <ed.lawar.ijogmail.com>
Subject: The Semi-formulaic Nature of Balinese Sociopolitical Discourse
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Institution: University of California, Santa Barbara
Program: Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2009

Author: Edmundo Cruz Luna

Dissertation Title: The Semi-formulaic Nature of Balinese Sociopolitical Discourse

Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis

Subject Language(s): Bali (ban)

Dissertation Director:
Sandra A. Thompson
Marianne Mithun
William J. Ashby
John W. Du Bois

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation investigates the nature of the speech produced during the
sangkep, which are periodic council meetings attended by members of the
banjar, a traditional sociopolitical institution in Bali, Indonesia. These
meetings comprise a fundamental decision-making body within any Balinese
village. Although there are several studies on the banjar and sangkep,
there has never been any linguistic examination of the language used in the
sangkep. With the impetus brought about by Duranti's (1994) seminal study
on the effects of grammar within sociopolitical fora, I suggest two things:
1) sangkep language is best characterized as semi-formulaic, which allows
for a degree of creativity necessary for speakers to provide appropriate
material for any given sangkep; and 2) more formulaic elements of sangkep
language serve as indices of assertion of one form of Balinese cultural

I divide semi-formulaic language found in the sangkep into two types:
language 'ritualized' via the effects of high usage-frequency; and language
which is deemed 'ritual' not because of frequency effects, but by the
relatively high level of ritual efficacy borne out by such language. The
former type (ritualized language) exhibits the highest level of
formulaicity via three verb roots, which also present possible construction
templates which are more abstract in nature. The latter type (ritual
language) primarily occurs in the opening and closing expressions Om Suasti
Astu 'May All Be Well' and Om Santi Santi Santi Om 'May There Be Peace'.
These expressions are always associated with the opening and closing of
major ritual events. Interestingly, these expressions are increasingly used
in non-ritual contexts, which I argue serves as a public assertion of one
form of Balinese cultural identity which can resist competing social forces
such as fractured nationalism and religious fundamentalism.

I finally suggest that there are other threats that are as (if not more)
pressing to the issue of preserving and transmitting Balinese cultural
identity, such as the possible widespread language shift from Balinese to
Indonesian, which is already happening in the major city of Denpasar.

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