Folk Speech- Indonesia

“Kenyang Bali atau kenyang Jawa”

Bali full or Java full?

In the above piece of Indonesian folk speech, according to the informant, the phrase “Bali full” connotes sexual satisfaction while “Java full” connotes that “your stomach is full” or your appetite is satisfied. The item was learned from friends, around 14 or 15 years of age. This folk speech is used to “tease people” when they say that they are full, almost always in the context of just having eaten a meal. The informant likes this folk speech because it  is funny and “perfectly describes the different lifestyles of the different parts of Indonesia”: Java is mainly Muslim and a sexually restrictive environment, but has good food, while Bali is mainly Hindu, liberal about sexuality (the informant noted that “kama,” or sexual pleasure, is one of the three goals of Hindu life), and doesn’t have very good food.

I agree with the informant that this piece of folk speech is an interesting way of asking a question in a humorous way. Particularly for inhabitants of Bali such as the informant, it may also constitute a way of expressing and reinforcing one’s own identity, which in one respect (less sexual restriction) one might be proud of and in the other (bad food) not so much. The item also seems to represent a sort of blason populaire since its meaning and significance rely upon the stereotypes of two specific islands in Indonesia which are considered (at least according to this piece of folk speech and the informant) to be diametrically opposed with respect to the quality of food and sexual behavior, or norms. This latter respect in which they differ is, moreover, correlated by the informant with the religious identities of those islands—Bali being predominantly Hindu and Java predominantly Muslim—which she seemed to view as strongly predictive of the general sentiment of each island concerning sexual behavior. This small piece of folklore thus remarks on three significant aspects of the culture of these two Indonesian islands, and perhaps more generally on Indonesian culture as a whole.