|ISO 15924||Java, 361
|The Brahmic script and its descendants|
The Javanese script, natively known as Aksara Jawa () and Hanacaraka (), is an abugida developed by the Javanese people to write several languages spoken in Indonesia, primarily the Austronesian Javanese language, an early form of Javanese called Kawi, as well as the liturgical language Sanskrit. The script is a descendant of the Brahmi script, and so has many similarities with the modern scripts of South and Southeast Asia. The Javanese script, along with the Balinese script, is considered the most elaborate and ornate among Brahmic scripts of Southeast Asia.
The script was widely used by the court scribes of Java and the Lesser Sunda Islands. Numerous efforts to standardize the script were made in the late 19th to early 20th-century, with the invention of the script's first metal type and the development of concise orthographic guidelines. However, further development was halted abruptly during the Japanese occupation of Indonesia in which its use was prohibited, and the script's use has since declined. Today, everyday use of the Javanese script has been largely supplanted by the Latin alphabet.
There are a total of 53 letters in the Javanese script, but the number of represented phonemes vary accordingly to the language being written. Each letter is a syllable with inherent vowel /a/ or /ɔ/, which changes depending on the diacritics around the letter. Each consonant has a conjunct form called pasangan which nullifies the inherent vowel of the previous syllable. In the word aksara for example, the inherent vowel of the letter ka is nullified by the use of pasangan in the following letter.
Punctuation includes a comma, period, colon, quotation marks, as well as several decorative marks indicating poetic chapter and denoting rank in correspondence. Text is written from left to right and without word boundaries (Scriptio continua).
Many of the letters are constructed from visually similar components, most notably n-shaped 'hills' and u-shaped 'valleys', arranged in different sequences. There are only a few components unique to certain characters and even fewer letters that are truly unique, resulting in a very uniform-looking script.
Javanese and Balinese are both modern variants of Kawi, a Brahmic script developed in Java from around the 9th-century AD. It was widely used in religious literature written in palm-leaf manuscripts called lontar. Over the Hindu-Buddhist period the letter forms changed into Javanese, and by the 17th century, the script was identifiable as in its modern form.
The Javanese script was mainly employed by court scribes centered in Surakarta and Yogyakarta, but the use was widespread among various courts of Java and the Lesser Sunda Islands. They are used to write historical accounts (babad), stories (serat), ancient verses (kakawin), and divination guides (primbon) among many others, with the most popular being copied and rewritten over the centuries.
The first Javanese metal type font was produced in the 1830s by the Dutch. Two other cursive type fonts were also produced in the early 20th-century. In 1926, an academic workshop in Sriwedari, Surakarta issued Wewaton Sriwedari or the "Sriwedari Resolve" as the first standard for Javanese spelling and orthography. Since then, numerous guidelines on Javanese orthography have been published.
However, further development was halted abruptly during the second World War when the use of the Javanese script was prohibited during the Japanese occupation. Currently, there are no newspapers or magazines being printed in the Javanese script, and it is mainly used for decorative or scholarly purposes. Everyday use of the script has been largely replaced by Latin alphabet. As a preservation effort, the Indonesian government prescribed most elementary and junior-high schools in Javanese speaking areas to teach the script as a compulsory subject. The use is also encouraged by the Central Javanese government in road signs and public signage alongside Bahasa Indonesia, as administered in the 2012 local legislation.
A single letter in the Javanese script is called an aksara (ꦲꦏ꧀ꦱꦫ), which stands for a syllable with inherent vowel /a/ or /ɔ/ depending on the letter's position to other letters. It can also depends on the speaker's dialect; Western Javanese dialects tends to pronounce the inherent vowel as /a/, while Eastern Javanese prefers /ɔ/. Rules determining the inherent vowel of a letter is described in Wewaton Sriwedari as follows:
- A letter stands for a syllable with the vowel /ɔ/ if the previous letter contains diacritics.
- A letter stands for a syllable with the vowel /a/ if the following character contains diacritics.
- The first letter of a word normally has the /ɔ/ vowel, unless it precedes two other letters without diacritics, in which case the first letter has the /a/ vowel.
There are a total of 53 letters in the Javanese script, but the number of represented phonemes vary accordingly to the language being written. For example, transcription of Sanskrit uses 33 consonants and 14 vowels, while modern orthography (based on the Javanese language) use 20 consonants and 5 vowels. Other letters are dropped of their original pronunciation and are used instead for honorific purposes.
Consonant letters are as follow:
Murda are similar to a capital letters, but they are not used in the beginning of a sentence. It is used as honorifics in the first syllable of proper names, usually of a respected person or a place. Not all nglegéna letters has a murda form, and if murda letter is not available for a name's first syllable, the second letter is capitalized. If the second letter does not have a murda either, the third letter is capitalized, and so on. Highly respected names may all be capitalized if corresponding murda is available.
Mahaprana translates to "aspirated". They were originally aspirated consonants used in Sanskrit and Kawi transliterations. However, their occurrence is rare. Proper usage in modern orthography is otherwise unknown, as there are no aspirated consonant in modern Javanese, and they are often omitted from books discussing the script.
Swara is used differentiate proper names in similar matter to murda. For example, the verb ayu (graceful) is written with syllable ha (ꦲꦪꦸ) while a person named Ayu is written with swara instead (ꦄꦪꦸ). Swara Is also used for words that are foreign of origin. The element Argon for example, is written with swara.
Pasangan is a counterpart of aksara, usually in subscript form, that eliminates the inherent vowel of the attaching syllable. It is used for consonant clusters or closed syllables that occurs in the middle of a sentence. For example, nda is made by attaching pasangan da to the syllable na.
Swara doesn't have a pasangan. However, the letter can be sub-scripted in similar manner to disambiguate proper names.
Due to the lost of original pronunciation or to accommodate foreign loan words, there are several aksara that are re-categorized and added in the modern repertoire. Each of these additional aksara has a pasangan, but they are devoid of murda or mahaprana case. They are as follow:
|rə||re||Pa cerek||Originally /ɽ/, /l̪/, and /l̪:/ present in the early development of the script due to Sanskrit influence. Contemporary orthography established them as ganten, syllables with vowel /ə/ which replaces ra+pepet, la+pepet, and la+pepet+tarung combination respectively. As it already carry a fixed vowel value, it may not be attached with vowel diacritics.|
|lɤ||leu||Nga lelet raswadi|
|ra||ra||Ra agung||Historically used by some writers to address royal figures.|
|qa||qa||Ka sasak||Traditional transliteration of /qa/ adopted from the Sasak language.|
|ħa||ha||Rekan||Most sounds not native to the Javanese language are indicated by adding U+A9B3 ◌꦳ JAVANESE SIGN CECAK TELU over similar sounding syllable. The resulting letters are called rekan or rekaan, which is commonly used for Arabic and Dutch loanwords. Additional rekan further extend Arabic and even add Chinese sounds, however their occurrence is rare. The most common rekan are shown in the table.|
Diacritics or dependent signs are called sandhangan (ꦱꦤ꧀ꦝꦔꦤ꧀). They are as follow:
|Sandhangan Swara (Vowel Diacritic)|
|◌̃||-m||Sesigeg||Panyangga||Nasalizes vowel, parallel to candrabindu (only used in the religious symbol Om).|
|-ŋ||-ng||Cecak||Adds final /ŋ/ to a syllable. Parallel to anusvara.|
|-r||-r||Layar||Adds final /r/ to a syllable.|
|-h||-h||Wignyan||Adds final /h/ to a syllable. Parallel to visarga.|
|-rə||-re||Wyanjana||Keret||Medial consonant signs. Originally, these signs were pasangan of U+A989 ꦉ JAVANESE LETTER PA CEREK, U+A9AA ꦪ JAVANESE LETTER YA, and U+A9AB ꦫ JAVANESE LETTER RA respectively. In current orthography, the use of pasangan indicates that the letter is part of the following word while wyanjana diacritics are used in consonant cluster of a single word.|
|-||-||Pangkon||Nullifies inherent vowel. Only used at the end of a sentence.|
When writing numbers greater than 9, simply combine the above numbers as one would using the Arabic numerals. For example, 21 is written by combining the numeral 2 and 1 as so; ꧒꧑. Similarly, the number 90 would be the ꧙꧐.
Most of the numbers are similar to the syllable characters. To avoid confusions, numbers that show up in Javanese texts are indicated by "numeral indicators" called pada pangkat, which is written both before and after the number, following the pattern: text - indicator - numbers - indicator - text. For example; Tuesday, 27 March 2013 would be written as ꦱꦼꦭꦱ꧇꧑꧙꧇ꦩꦉꦠ꧀꧇꧒꧐꧑꧓꧇ (selasa 19 maret 2013).
|Pada adeg||Parentheses or quotation marks|
|Pada adeg-adeg||Introduce a paragraph or section|
|and||Pada piseleh||Functions similarly to pada adeg|
|Pada lingsa||Functions similarly to a comma but not needed after a consonant-ending word that is represented by a pangkon. It acts as a period if preceded by pangkon.|
|Pada pangkat||Numeral indicator or colon|
|Pada rangkep||Iteration mark. It functions similarly to 2 or 2 in the Indonesian Republican Spelling System. The character derives from the Arabic digit two but does not have a numeric use. It was proposed as a separate character because of the bidirectional properties of the Arabic digit.|
|Pada luhur||Introduces a letter to a person of older age or higher rank|
|Pada madya||Introduces a letter to a person of equal age or rank|
|Pada andhap||Introduces a letter to a person of younger age or lower rank|
|Pada guru||Introduces a letter without age or rank distinction|
|Pada pancak||Ends a letter|
|Purwapada||Introduces a poem|
|Madyapada||Indicates a new song within a poem|
|Wasanapada||Indicates the end of a poem.|
There are two special marks to indicate error in writing, UA9DE ꧞ JAVANESE PADA TIRTA TUMETES and UA9DF ꧟ JAVANESE PADA ISEN-ISEN. Though only used in handwriting, the two are included into the Unicode range for the purpose of rendering Javanese texts. Tirta tumétés is used in Yogyakarta, while isèn-isèn is used in Surakarta. For example, a scribe wants to write pada luhur, but wrote pada wu ..., a scribe from Yogyakarta would write:
In Surakarta, it would be:
Javanese letters are commonly arranged in the hanacaraka sequence, as follows:
of which the line-by-line translation would be:
There (were) two messengers. (They) had animosity (among each other). (They were) equally powerful (in fight). Here are the corpses.
|Sandhangan Swara (Vowel Diacritic)|
Javanese script was added to the Unicode Standard in October, 2009 with the release of version 5.2.
The Unicode block for Javanese is U+A980–U+A9DF. There are 91 codepoints for Javanese script: 53 letters, 19 punctuations, 10 numbers, and 9 vowels. Grey areas indicate non-assigned code points:
Official Unicode Consortium code chart (PDF)
Gajah Mada street sign, Surakarta.
Slamet Riyadi street sign, Surakarta.
Pakubowono X's inscription, Surakarta (1938).
One of the wall poems in Leiden, Serat Kalatidha.
The Special Region of Yogyakarta emblem honors the Javanese script
Stylized letters in the emblem of the Yogyakarta Sultanate
- Kuipers, Joel (2003). Indic Scripts of Insular Southeast Asia: Changing Structures and Functions. Tokyo: Tokyo University of Foreign Studies.
- Everson, Michael (2008). Proposal for encoding the Javanese script in the UCS
- Soebadyo, Haryati (2002) Indonesian Heritage 10: Bahasa dan Sastra. Jakarta: Buku Anak Bangsa - Grolier International. ISBN 979-8926-23-4
- Leinster, Troy (2012). Nieuw Javaansch No.1. The Hague
- "Javanese Script Description". Script Source. Retrieved 2014-05-09.
- Daniels, Peter T; Bright, William. The World's Writing Systems. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
- Soemarmo, Marmo (1995). Javanese Script. Ohio Working Papers in Linguistics and Language Teaching 14. 69-103.
- Adien Gunarta (2014-05-05). "Pengantar Tipografi Aksara Jawa oleh Aditya Bayu". Retrieved 2014-05-10.
- Campbell, George L. (2000). Compendium of the World's Languages. Vol. 1. New York: Routledge.
- Gallop, Annabel T. (2012) Golden Letters: Writing Traditions of Indonesia. Jakarta: Lontar Foundation.
- Darusuprapta (2003). Pedoman Penulisan Aksara Jawa. Yogyakarta: Yayasan Pustaka Nusantara.
- Florida, Nancy K. (1995). Writing the Past, Inscribing the Future: History as Prophesy in Colonial Java. Duke University Press.
- Pemerintahan Provinsi Jawa Tengah (2009). Peraturan Daerah no. 9 tahun 2012, mengenai bahasa, sastra, dan aksara Jawa.
- Komisi Kesustraan Sriwedari (1926). Paugeran Sriwedari. Surakarta
- "ALA-LC Romanization Tables". Library of Congress. 2011.
- Wihananto, R.S. (2011). Panduan Fonta Aksara Jawa Unicode.
- Javanisch, Fremde Laute. From Das Buch der Schrift. Faulmann, Carl (1880).
- Raffles, Thomas Stamford (1817). History of Java. London
- Javanese compared to other Indic scripts. From History of Java. Raffles, Thomas Stamford (1817).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Javanese script.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Early Javanese books.|
- Unicode Table of the Javanese script
- Javanese at Omniglot.com -- A guide to writing systems
- Javanese at Ancientsscripts.com --- A compendium of world-wide writing system from prehistory to today
- Page from Javanese Wikipedia detailing web support for Javanese (in Indonesian, Javanese, and English)
- Tuladha Jejeg. A Javanese Unicode font with SIL Graphite smart font technology
- Javanese Script Transliterator using SIL Graphite smart font technology
- Hanacaraka Font & Resources (in Indonesian)