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About the story
What’s with this “Wren” thing?
   The oldest extant version of the fable we are presenting here appeared in 1913 in the first volume of a two-volume anthology of Low Saxon folktales (Plattdeutsche Volksmärchen “Low German Folktales”) collected by Wilhelm Wisser (1843–1935). Read more ...

Basa Sunda


Picture of Sundanese children
Despite its geographical area having shrunken
from the original western half of Java to barely
one third in the very west of the island, and
despite being overshadowed by Javanese and
Indonesian, Sundanese is still fairly secure
regarding usage and number of speakers.

Language information: Sundanese is one of Indonesia’s most important languages in terms of geographical spread, number of speakers and spheres of usage. Currently, the number of its speakers is estimated the be around 27 million. Most of these speakers live in the western third of the island of Java.
     The Sundanese-speaking area used to comprise roughly the western half of the island, but it lost much of its original territory as a result of the westward spread of Javanese. Some people still refer to some of the dialects of the Javanized areas as “Sundanese” (for instance the dialects of Cirebon and Banten), but it is more correct to consider them Javanese dialects on Sundanese substrates (being spoken by descendents of former Sundanese speakers that adopted Javanese). However, in most of these overlap areas there are still some minorities of Sundanese speakers living among dominant Javanese speakers. An exception is the dialect of southern Banten Province, which is indeed Sundanese.
     Often included in Sundanese is Badui, once used mostly in Mount Kendeng, Kabupaten Rangkasbitung, Pandeglang and Sukabumi, though only a few thousand speakers of it remain. These are ethnic Badui people that call themselves Kanekes. It appears to be more correct to consider Badui a sister language of Sundanese, having been derived from archaic Sundanese, lately influenced by Indonesian, Sundanese and Javanese.

Isle of Java (Indonesia): Map of traditional language areas

               Sundanese has two “indistinct” or “reduced” vowels: [] and its rounded equivalent [] (the latter written eu, borrowed from the Dutch spelling for the sound [ø], which in turn is based on French spelling).
      These days, Sundanese is primarily written with a Latin-based system akin to systems used for Indonesian, Javanese and other languages of Indonesia. The reformed version of this orthography ignores the distinction between /e/ and schwa [] (formerly written é vs e or e vs ĕ respectively). Like other languages of the Malay Pensinsula and Eastern Indonesia, it used to be written with the Arabic-based Pegon script (referred to as “Jawi” in Malaysia), with the Indic-derived Javanese-style Carakan script and before that with an archaic Sundanese script related to the Carakan script.
      Sundanese culture is related to Javanese culture, but it is distinctive enough to be considered an entity in its own right. This includes areas such as music, dance and various types of puppet plays. Contemporary “Sunda Pop” music mostly utilizes traditional Sundanese musical elements as well as the Sundanese language.
      The Sundanese language has inherited socially-determined lexical and stylistic modes. However the Sundanese system appears to be less complex than are the systems of Javanese and Balinese, the main distinction being between ordinary and polite (or deferential).
      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

Historical Lowlands language contacts: Dutch

    Click to open the translation: [Click]Click here for different versions. >

Author: Reinhard F. Hahn

© 2011, Lowlands-L · ISSN 189-5582 · LCSN 96-4226 · All international rights reserved.
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