Exalted status of Isaiah / John the Baptist / Jeremiah and the apostles

New Testament Greek is by Balinese standards an extremely impolite language. Consider, for example, the second person pronoun. When speaking to God, to a nobleman, to a friend, to a pupil, or to a slave, the same word is used. In Balinese this is completely different. In the above examples one would differentiate various social ranks and use terms which, more or less freely translated, mean “adored one” or “he who is borne on the head”, “feet of Your Highness”, “older (or younger) brother”, “little one”, and “you”. (…) In Balinese one has to cope with three vocabularies within the language, each of which, at a moderate estimate, includes some hundreds of words. One employs the ordinary common language (“Low Balinese”) when speaking with intimates, equals, or inferiors; polite terms must, however, be used as soon as one begins to speak to one’s superiors or to strangers; and “deferential” terms are obligatory in all cases when one is so bold as to speak of parts of the body, or the acts, possessions, and qualities of important people. The Balinese sums up the two last named vocabularies under the term alus (“fine”, or “noble”): we say “High Balinese”. (…)

In Greek and in European languages such as Dutch and English the third person pronoun does not present much difficulty. In Balinese the situation becomes more complicated, for one has at least four pronouns for the third person: two to indicate important and very important persons (dané and ida), one to speak of a person of lower standing but in a familiar manner, and one to speak of such a person in a polite manner (ia and ipun). Dané, the pronoun of the slightly less important person of the third caste, is also in use for people of lower caste who through their official position, age, or ability have a right to be respected or with whom one is trying to ingratiate oneself. In former days the common people addressed a Dutch civil official as dané, but the same word was used to address his office boy. Indeed, without the cooperation of the latter it was no simple matter to get a hearing with the government official. In the translation, the word dané can generally be used for the prophets. I say generally, because there are exceptions. For example, Isaiah was a king’s son, and John and Jeremiah were the sons of priests, and as such are regarded by Balinese standards to be equivalent to the castes of the aristocracy and the Brahmins, respectively. To address them as dané would be unsuitable, and the pronoun ida is used. Where the disciples are involved, most Balinese Christians use dané, taking into consideration the honorable position occupied by the disciples as apostles in the Christian church. But in the Gospel stories these simple artisans and fishermen were not of such high standing. So here ia and ipun are used. In the Acts, however, the position of apostles such as Peter and John could be expressed by the use of the word dané.

Source: J.L. Swellengrebel in The Bible Translator 1950, p. 124ff.