Javanese

Pangeran Alit — in Javanese.

The Javanese language (ꦧꦱꦗꦮ / Basa Jawa) is one of the most prominent and culturally significant languages of Indonesia, primarily spoken by the Javanese people, the largest ethnic group in the country. It is predominantly spoken in the central and eastern parts of the island of Java, Indonesia. With over 82 million speakers, it’s the largest of the Austronesian languages in terms of number of native speakers and the 10th most spoken language in the world.

Javanese belongs to the Malayo-Polynesian branch of the Austronesian language family. It shares this family with other major languages of Indonesia and the Philippines, but it has developed its unique characteristics over centuries.

There are three primary dialects of Javanese: Eastern, Central, and Western Javanese. Each has its unique phonological and lexical distinctions. The Central Javanese dialect, spoken in and around the city of Yogyakarta, is considered the most prestigious and is often used in media and literature.

The language employs a subject-verb-object sentence structure. It is also known for its complex system of affixation to form words and indicate grammatical relations. Javanese verbs are not inflected for tense; instead, tense is indicated by time adverbs or by context. Javanese has a complex system of phonemes, including a series of consonants and vowels. It also has a rich array of diphthongs (combined vowel sounds) and a distinctive pitch accent system.

A unique feature of Javanese is its elaborate system of speech levels or registers. These include Ngoko (informal, low), Krama Madya (middle), and Krama Inggil (formal, high). The usage of different levels depends on various social contexts and the status of the people involved in the conversation.

Historically, Javanese was written using a script called Hanacaraka or Carakan, derived from the Brahmi script of India. Today, the Latin alphabet is widely used. While still widely spoken, Javanese faces challenges in the modern era, particularly from the dominance of the Indonesian language, which is the official language of Indonesia and used in most formal education and national media.