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What’s with this “Wren” thing?
The oldest extant version of the fable
are presenting here appeared in 1913 in the first volume of a two-volume anthology
Saxon folktales (Plattdeutsche
Volksmärchen “Low German Folktales”)
collected by Wilhelm Wisser (1843–1935). Read
Javanese performance of the Hindu epic Rāmāyaņa—
reached Java with the introduc-
and Buddhism and created
a rich blend
indigenous culture that
lasted through Malay
and Dutch colonial rule,
and it endures
information: After Indonesian (the national lingua franca of Indonesia), Javanese is the
most widespread and influential language of Indonesia and has
the largest number of native speakers (currently over 75 million). It is primarily used on the Indonesian island of Java. Its original domain was
the eastern half of the island, the western part having been that of Sundanese. However, Javanese spread westward and eventually came to dominate in neighboring
areas that used to be Sundanese speaking, also in an enclave in the Banten
area, west of the national capital Jakarta.
There are numerous
Javanese-speaking communities off the island as well, namely in most of the country’s larger cities, on the island regions of Sulawesi, Maluku, Kalimantan and
Sumatra, in Western New Guinea (Irian Jaya), in Singapore, in Malaysia (especially
in Sabah) and in the Netherlands. Aside from that there are specific overseas
dialects of Javanese: Caribbean Javanese of Suriname and French Guiana (also
used in the Netherlands), and New Caledonian Javanese spoken in Noumea. Javanese
is likely to have been used extensively in the early days of Dutch
rule in Southern Africa when large numbers of “Malay” slaves were transported to the Cape of Good Hope. However, the “Cape Malay” descendents have lost their ancestral languages for Afrikaans and English.
confined to a relatively small geographical area, Javanese has numerous dialects.
The most distinctive of these tend to be in formerly Sundanese-speaking areas,
such as the dialect of Cirebon and the Banten dialect of the Javanese enclave around Serang, west of Jakarta. Even more distinctive are the Javanese dialects
used in other parts of the world.
and culture have
extraordinarily complex, multi-layered history in which waves of Indian, Middle Eastern, Malay
influences enriched a strong indigenous base, and with this came Hinduism, Buddhism
complexity is the consideration of archaic, social hierarchies that are likely to go back to the island’s Hinduist era. For instance, in the Javanese language, much as in Balinese and Japanese,
stylistic and lexical choices are determined by the relative social positions
of the speaker and the listener, and this is further complicated by the use
of special orthographic devices when using the
The main levels of speech are Ngoko (informal), Madya (intermediary, polite) and Krama (formal, deferential), and the Krama level is subdivided into “neutral” and “humble.” In addition, honorific and humilific “meta-style” words are used. For example, “I want to eat” may be expressed as follows:
Due to the pivotal
roles of Java
in Indonesia, the
development of the Malay-based Indonesian national language has been influenced
by Javanese. Javanese culture is still going strong, both traditional as well
as modern, being parellel and often overlapping with evolving Indonesian national
culture. Once reserved for the royal courts, ancient music, dance and visual
are now more accessible and are
greatly revered, as are more popular art forms,
such as various types of Javanese-style puppet plays, drawing mostly from the
Hindu epic Rāmāyaņa. Greatly revered, too, are the relatively few Javanese people that are still
able to read and write the old Javanese script known as Carakan (spelled Tjarakan under Dutch rule) or Aksara Jawa (spelled Aksara Djawa under Dutch rule). Like the script for Balinese, with which it is closely related, it was derived from the Old Kawi script
and ultimately from the South Indian Pallava (Vatteluttu) script that in turn developed from the Old Indian Brahmi script. The Javanese
script has been masterfully adapted to indigenous esthetics and is regarded
as visually very pleasing by most people anywhere. However, although the basic
Indic system has not been compromised, and Indic loanwords are more or less
spelled as in Sanskrit, the novice learner tends to find it difficult
to distinguish the letters from each other, since their ornamental power is
distinctiveness. Javanese has been written with the Arabic-based Pegon script as well, although rarely. These days it is mostly written with a Latin-based
a somewhat inconsistently followed orthography, oftentimes ignoring certain
phonemic distinctions. This was preceded by a Dutch-based colonial orthography.
Some phonemic distinctions are not represented in the
latest version of the Roman-script-based orthography, most specifically distinction
between closed and open vowels (e.g. a now representing à, á and å, and e now representing e, è, é and ĕ). The letter combinations th and dh represent retroflex equivalents of t and d respectively, rare sounds in the Malay region, possibly due to Indic influence.
and most other Austronesian languages, Javanese has syllable-initial consonant
clusters, probably as a result of contraction following vowel reduction, also
as a result of adopting Indic words;
mlenguk ‘obvious’, plus ‘identical’, prabot ‘gear’, mramong ‘to glow’, ngrayud ‘heavy with fruit’, clab-club ‘hasty’, ‘thoughtlessly’, nylingkring ‘skinny’, srenteg ‘shapely’, ‘curvy’, trèktrèkan ‘to scream shrilly’.
has a long and rich history that can be traced back to the 9th century C.E. (Sukabumi inscription),
though 5th-century Sanskrit inscriptions (e.g., the Tarumanegara of 450 C.E.) seem to indicate that Javanese wrote before then. Important Old
works (9th–13th century) include the Kakawin Ramayana (a rendition of the Vishnuic epic Rāmāyaņa) and the Buddhist work Sang Hyang Kamahayanikan, most of them following the kakawin poetic style. Many Middle Javanese works (13th–16th century) reflect the often tumultuous transitions that led from Hinduism
and Buddhism to Islam. Many New Javanese works (16th–20th century) reflect the gradual absorption of Islamic thinking, and some of
them are written with the Arabic-based Jawi script. Beginning with the 20th century,
with the end of colonial rule, a type of literature emerged that some regard
as being Modern Javanese. However, Modern Javanese writing tends to be relegated
to traditional themes and tends to be more or less Indonesianized (Malay-influenced),
reaches all Indonesians, irrespective of their native languages.
Like most languages
of Indonesia, Sundanese adopted a good number of words from Dutch under Dutch colonial rule. Some of these words entered Sundanese directly, most
of them via Indonesian or Javanese.
Genealogy: Austronesian > Malayo-Polynesian > Western > Sundic