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1. Grammar and Spelling
2. Punctuation
3. Measurements and Abbreviations
4. Hyphenation
5. Miscellaneous Peculiarities
6. Geographic Distribution
7. Character Set

Section One – Grammar and Spelling

1. Gender: There is no gender differentiation in the Javanese language.

2. Plural: There is also no specific plural form. The plural is formed by repeating the word (noun), just like in Indonesian, e.g. wong-wong (persons), umah-umah (houses), kewan-kewan (animals). However, there are a few exceptions where repetitive nouns do not indicate only plural forms but also have other meanings, e.g. umah-umah means both 'houses' and 'establishing a household'.

3. Definite and indefinite articles: The definite articles are si and sang (the). The indefinite article is sak or se (a/one).

4. Accents: The only accent which exists is used to indicate the sound of 'e' like that in 'bet', and it appears in upper case character (É and é ).

Section Two Punctuation

1. Full stops: Principally, the punctuation rules follow that of the Indonesian language, which is the same as English. Full stops are, therefore, not used at the end of headings, titles, subtitles, bullet points, addresses, dates, no. of pages.

2. Speech marks: Javanese language written in the Roman alphabet does not have its own original rules, so it derives its speech mark usage from Indonesian, which uses them similarly to English:

1. “Give me more work!”, shouted Chloe.
"Kei aku gawean meneh!", Chloe mbengok.

2. “Would anyone like some tea?” asked George.
"Punapa wonten ingkang ngersakaken teh?" George pitakenan.

3. “I’m bored – can I go home now?”, Michala said.
"Aku bosen tenan – tak bali yo?", Michala ngomong.

3. Apostrophes: The apostrophe is very rarely used in Javanese. It is only used to highlight a word.

4. Colons, semi-colons and ellipsis: These are all used similarly to English.

5. Brackets: These are also used in a similar way to Indonesian and to English.

Section Three Measurements and Abbreviations

1. Measurements: Javanese is not used in an official capacity, rather, it is a 'home' language, used by people in their homes and within their communities. Therefore, it is rarely used in the context of measurement, for which Indonesian is used instead. All measurements use the metric system, with a few exceptions like computer monitor sizes (which originally come with 'inch' sizes), pipe tubes that come with 'inch' sizes, wrenches that come with'inch' sizes, and TV sets. Televisions are always measured in inches, never using the metric system.

A decimal point is denoted by a comma in Javanese e.g. 4,5 cm, 5,5 m, 11,2 km (English 4.5 cm, 5.5 m, 11.2 km). Thousands are separated by full stops, e.g. 4.000, 50.000, or without any mark, e.g. 4000, 50000.

Time: The following examples show how the time is written in Javanese.

10.30 am / noon / 4.30 pm / midnight
10:30 / awan / 4:30 esuk / tengah wengi

Date: The following examples show how the Javanese language corresponds to the English format.

20 February 2004 -> 20 Pebruari 2004
20th February 2004 -> 20 Pebruari 2004
20/02/2004 -> 20/02/2004
February 20 -> 20 Pebruari

There should never be a space between the number and any measurement, including cm, kg, % and °C. Thus, in Javanese these measurements would be written as 5cm, 10kg, 50% and 30°C.

Currency: In terms of format, all examples are acceptable, e.g.: Rp230 / 230 rupiah / Rp 98 milyar / 98 milyar rupiah. The ISO-standard of currencies must also be accepted: IDR230.

2. Abbreviations:

No. (nos.) = No.
e.g. = cont.

WxLxHxD = - (very rarely encountered to be written in Javanese, almost
always written in Indonesian: L (lebar) x P (panjang) x T (tinggi) x D
(dalam). In Javanese it should be A (amba) x D (dawa) x Dh (dhuwur) x J
(jero), but these are never used in an official or business capacity.

1st / 2nd / 3rd / 4th = kapisan/kapindho/katelu/kapapat (ka-1/ka-2/ka-3/ka-4)

Mr. / Mrs. = Bpk/Ibu.
Messrs. = Bapak-bapak
Miss = Mbakyu, Jeng Ayu, Den Ajeng (depending on who is addressed).
Dear Sir / Madam = Bapak/Ibu (in formal occasion: Para Rawuh Kakung kaliyan Putri).

m (for metre) = m
cm (for centimetre) = cm
lb (for pound weight) = - (N/A).
g (for gram) = g
km (for kilometre) = km
yr (for year) = taun
k (for 1000) = -

EMEA (Europe, Middle-East & Asia) = - (not commonly abbreviated but: Eropa, Timur Tengah & Asia)

Days of the week: Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun -> Senen, Seloso, Rebo, Kemis, Jum'at, Setu, Minggu

These names are actually derived from the Indonesian language versions which are: Senin, Selasa, Rabu, Kamis, Jumat, Sabtu, & Minggu. There are also actually Javanese names for these days, but these names are no longer commonly used, so it would be hard to find a native Javanese who would understand them, except scholars of the Javanese language. These names are: Soma (Monday), Anggara (Tuesday), Budha (Wednesday), Respati (Thursday), Sukra (Friday), Saniscara (Saturday), Radite (Sunday).

Please note: The Javanese language/culture has its own calendar system, which uses only 5 days per week. These days, Manis, Pahing, Pon, Wage, Kliwon, are actually market days but have not been commonly used as standalone names since the 19th century. However, these names for the days of the week are still used today in combination with the International days and are still indicated in many calendars found in Java, e.g. Senen Manis, Senen Pon, Rabu Kliwon, Jumat Kliwon, Setu Pahing. The combined names are mostly used to indicate the birthday of a Javanese person. For instance, Teguh Irawan was born on Rebo (Wednesday) Pahing, 16 April 1975. These are also used to calculate 'good days' within the year. There is a belief that Jumat Kliwon (Friday Kliwon), as well as Selasa Kliwon, is a 'sacred' day (this is probably similar to beliefs/superstitions about Friday the 13th).

Months: Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec
-> Januari, Pebruari, Maret, April, Mei, Juni, Juli, Agustus, September, Oktober, Nopember, Desember.

Please note: Javanese actually also has its own calendar system containing 12 months. Originally, it was a lunisolar system (Saka/Hindu calendar) but, in around the 15th century, the calendar was switched to a lunar system by Sultan Agung (an Islamic Javanese King of Mataram), which is similar to the Muslim Calender. The months are: Sura, Sapar, Mulud, Bakda Mulud, Jumadil Awal, Jumadil Akir, Rejeb, Ruwah, Pasa, Sawal, Dulkangidah, and Besar.

Seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter (not normally abbreviated in English).

Indonesia (Java island) does not have four seasons, but two: the rainy season and the dry season. There is a more complicated Javanese season calculation, which can be translated literally from 1st season to 12th season. But this system is not commonly used anymore. Only a small number of older people and scholars still understand this system. (Personal note: even my father-inlaw, a descendant of the Jogja royal family, aged 65, told me that he does not understand it very much any more, although his father did.) This season calculation was useful for instance to determine when to cut bamboo or wood trees, so that the bamboo or woods will not be eaten by bugs. Today, Javanese people just cut bamboo and trees whenever they like, and thus these products are not preserved as long as those cut in olden times.

One other abbreviation which may look strange to a non-native speaker would be:

Lsp (lan sapiturute: etc.)

Section Four – Hyphenation

Hyphenation is used when words are split over lines. It is determined by syllabic structure.

Originally, word joining with hyphens was very rare in Javanese. However, with the borrowing of words from foreign languages, this has become more commonplace.

Prefixes, infixes, and suffixes are joined to words without using hyphens.

Single-syllabic words must never be separated by a hyphen, e.g. sing, lan, etc.

The use of dashes mirrors that of the Indonesian language.

Section Five – Miscellaneous Peculiarities

Javanese people, as well as most Indonesians (except Batak people), do not normally have surnames. Siblings usually (and almost always) even have different last names. For instance, the eldest: Budi Setiono, 2: Toni Nugraha, 3: Hesna Subiakto. 4: Rita Talia. Javanese people name their children mainly based on their wish upon the children. If they name their son Slamet (Safe), it is with a wish that their son will always be safe. Equally, if they pick the name Hartono (Be wealthy), they are wishing for the boy to be wealthy.

Javanese language has a ‘stratification’ feature. That is, the choice of word used is determined by the position (social, economic, cultural) of the person speaking and that of the addressee. Basically, there are two categorizations of the language: Kromo (higher), and Ngoko (lower). Some people believe that there are more categorizations in between, i.e. more intermediate than higher and lower. The Kromo is used mostly among the high classes of society (esp. in the past, in Javanese castles and royal families, and other high class families). The Ngoko is used by the lay people amongst themselves. A person with a higher position will use Ngoko language when talking to a person with a lower social status. A person with a lower position uses Kromo when talking a person with a higher status.

That is not all. Regarding the use of Kromo (higher) language: when the two people communicating have equal positions within society, but are not yet well-acquainted, each will use a 'lower' version of a word to refer to himself/herself, and will use a 'higher' version of the word to refer to the addressee.


Kulo badhe wangsul (I will go home)
Punapa panjenengan badhe kondur rumiyin? (Would you go home first?).

Aku arep mulih.

=> Wangsul is the lower version of the action 'going home', used to refer to oneself, while kondur is the higher version, for the addressee. Mulih is the Ngoko version and used among lay people.

Kulo badhe nedha (I will eat) (lower)
Monggo dhahar rumiyin. (Please eat first) (higher).

Kirike lagi mangan (The dog is eating) (lowest).

=> Nedha is used to refer to oneself, dhahar to the addressee. Mangan is used for animals and lay people and in Ngoko.

This is a feature that creates difficulties for young Javanese, who have grown up with little knowledge of the Kromo language, when communicating with the older generation. They realise that they ought to use the Higher/Kromo language with the older people, and that if they use the Ngoko language they will be considered impolite and somewhat ‘uncivilised’. However, using it is not easy for them, as generally they are not familiar with the language. As a result, some prefer to use Indonesian, which does not have this stratification.

This feature is also one of the reasons that Javanese was not made the national official language of Indonesia, albeit having the largest number of speakers (much larger than the number of speakers of Melayu, the language from which Indonesian originated) when compared to the other hundreds of ‘tribal’/traditional languages which exist in Indonesia.

Section Six – Geographic Distribution

The official and business language of Java island (all native areas in which Javanese language is spoken) is the Indonesian language. Indonesian is used in all official and business environments in Java and throughout Indonesia and also in non-official/home situations in some parts of urban communities of Java. The Javanese language is used as a spoken and communal language in suburban and rural areas of Java, and in some parts the urban communities.

The language used in media such as TV, newspapers and magazines is Indonesian, even in locally-targeted media, such as Radar Banyumas, a newspaper published specifically for Banyumas people. Javanese language is used only on certain programs on the Radio or television and in certain columns. Advertisements use the Indonesian language.

There are basically three dialects of Javanese language. In the Central Java province there are: 1. Tegal/Banyumasan, and 2. Solo & Jogjakarta, and in the East Java province there is 3. East Javanese language. Each dialect may have slight variants depending on the different areas in which they are spoken. For instance, the Tegal/Banyumasan dialect differs slightly when spoken in the Wonosobo area as opposed to when it is spoken in Pekalongan, and this, in turn, is different from the variety spoken in the Purwokerto area.

Javanese in its various dialects is used by about 75 million people, from Central Java to East Java area. The West Java area uses a different language: Sundanese.

The Javanese language is also used in Suriname and New Caledonia. It was originally brought there by Javanese people taken to those countries as plantation workers by the Dutch. Even today, the descendants of those Javanese people in the two areas still use Javanese (the lower form), but it is a different variety to that currently spoken in Java due to its seclusion.

The knowledge of ‘proper’ (grammatically correct with rich vocabulary) Javanese language is now only retained by the older generation. The Javanese used by the youth is merely a communication tool for use amongstthemselves, with poor vocabulary, and is no longer suitable for ‘serious occasions’, let alone for literary purpose.

Considering the above, localization into Javanese is not highly recommended and, in fact, rarely needed, unless the target audience is very specific. Furthermore, if the localized material is to be appropriately targeted, it must use the proper dialect for that specific target.

However, if localization into Javanese is a must, it has to take into account the following considerations:

1. If the localization is to reach the entire Javanese-speaking community, regardless of dialects and location, it should be done in the Jogja/Solo dialect. This dialect can be said to be the standard Javanese, i.e. the Javanese as taught in schools, probably because it still has the authoritative resource (the Javanese palaces in Jogja & Solo). Besides, this dialect is understood by the entire Javanese-speaking community, regardless of their dialects.

2. However. if the localization is to reach only a specific part of the Javanesespeaking community, it should use the proper dialect of Javanese, which is divided into 3 dialects as mentioned above.

Section Seven – Character Set

Note: The following character set is the one used by Javanese language written with Latin alphabet, which is the commonly used Javanese today.

a (ha) A
b (ba) B
c (ca) C
d (da) D
dh (dha) Dh
e E
g (ga) G
h (ha) H
i I
j (ja) J
k (ka) K
l (a) L
m (a) M
n (na) N
ng (nga) Ng
ny (nya) Ny
o O
p (pa) P
r (ra) R
s (sa) S
t (ta) T
th (tha) Th
u U
w (wa) W
y (ya) Y


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