Javanese Language in Indonesia

Javanese Language in Indonesia

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There is a growing concern that many young Javanese people in Indonesia are having difficulty speaking proper Javanese sentences. Many studies indicate that the High Javanese language in Indonesia, also known as Javanese Krama, is slowly disappearing.

Many young Javanese researchers, teachers, activists, and public speakers are rediscovering their heritage and creating movements to embrace it again, although this needs to be addressed.

History of The Javanese Language

The earliest known Old Javanese dates back to the Sukabumi inscription from 804 CE. Over six centuries (from the 9th to the 15th century), the Western Javanese language developed on the island of Java and was mainly written in verse form. In Indonesia, Malay speakers were fewer compared to Javanese speakers. Malay provided an alternative to the fear of being dominated by the dominant Javanese-speaking population.

The Javanese language evolved from the Proto-Austronesian language, which is the root of all Austronesian languages. While half of the vocabulary in Old Javanese texts comes from central and eastern parts of Sanskrit, this mainly reflects the language used in court and does not accurately represent the language spoken by the general population.

The Javanese language is intricate, reflecting its people’s unique culture and way of life. With a vast vocabulary and complex grammar system, it is essential in Indonesia. It plays a crucial role in the country’s culture and economy.

Javanese may be a complex language, but over 85 million people speak it, and it is the official language of Indonesia, alongside Indonesian and English. Organizations that communicate with native Javanese roots and speakers will need translations in this essential language.

Old Javanese

Old Javanese dates back to 804 CE, as evidenced by the Sukabumi inscription. From the 8.5th to the 15th century, it thrived on Java and was often composed in verse form and also known as Kawi or ‘of poets, poetical’s.

The term “Old Javanese script” can also describe the ancient features of New Javanese literature. The writing system used in Old Javanese originated from the Pallava script of India. Old Javanese literature consists of almost 50% Sanskrit loanwords and includes terms borrowed from other languages in Maritime Southeast Asia.

The written form of Old Javanese was commonly used in Bali, sometimes referred to as “Middle Javanese.” However, this form of Javanese has not been widely used in central Java since the early 16th century. Despite this, Old Javanese works, and poetic traditions are still preserved in Bali, which is heavily influenced by Javanese culture. Additionally, the written form of Old Javanese is still used for religious purposes.

Modern Javanese

During the 16th century, Modern Javanese became the primary literary form of the Javanese language. This shift occurred as Islam grew in prominence in Java. At first, Modern Javanese was based on the dialect spoken on the north coast of Java, where Islam had already taken root. Many of the written works in this form of Javanese focused on Islam; some were Malay literature translations. Additionally, Javanese was written using the Pegon script, which utilized the Arabic abjad.

In the 17th century, the ascendancy of Mataram caused a shift in the primary literary form of Javanese towards its inland variety. The writers of Surakarta and Yogyakarta upheld this written tradition, eventually forming the basis of the modern written standard of the language. Additionally, the rise of Mataram led to the development of speech levels such as ngoko and krama in Javanese, which were not present in Old Javanese.

The Javanese language is biting the dust.

More than 80 million people speak the Javanese language and have three speech levels: low, middle, and high. However, mastering the language system requires understanding the social status of the individuals involved in the conversation, which is often not familiar to the younger generation. To use the speech levels appropriately, Javanese speakers must carefully consider the context of their communication, including the location, time, and audience.

Depending on the level of speech, Javanese can express an activity in three different ways. For example, the word “go” can be translated speak Javanese as “lunga” (in low Javanese/Ngoko), “kesah” (in middle Javanese/Madya), and “tindak” (in high Javanese/Krama).

Joseph Errington’s 1998 study revealed that Javanese Krama had declined in Yogyakarta and Surakarta, both major central Javanese–speaking regions. The way the Javanese language is used is evolving quickly, both in cities and villages. Javanese parents speak Indonesian with their children at home, believing it will give them more opportunities in the future.

Speak in “proper” Javanese.

To uphold the speakers of the Javanese language, the Indonesian government has implemented numerous efforts to educate young people on the importance of speaking in “proper” Javanese. These include school-based programs that teach about proper speech etiquette and descriptions of traditional culture as expressed through Javanese literature.

They feel that their speaking skills in Krama are limited because they become anxious when choosing the right words during conversations. Participants who were over 35 years old shared the same opinion as those under 25. They believed using the Indonesian language would be better than using the inappropriate Javanese language.

Despite their limited proficiency in Krama, the research shows they are enthusiastic about learning the native language further. They want to embrace local knowledge, and some find using Krama in their everyday lives beneficial. This is encouraging news.

Javanese language in the Millennial Era

Over time, language evolves and adapts to the current generation. While some languages may not completely disappear, they transform into different forms, like water turning into ice.

In a society with multiple languages, the acknowledgment of a language is dependent on where it is utilized. Although teaching a national language in schools is beneficial, using regional languages in daily conversations is also important. In summary, educating and becoming familiar with a language is different.

There is a belief that English or even Indonesian is responsible for the decline of Javanese and other regional languages in Indonesia. However, it’s essential to understand that a language cannot kill another language. The lack of speakers causes a language to fade, often without being recorded.

Getting Started with Professional Javanese Translations

Professional translation services can assist you in communicating with individuals who speak a different language. You can overcome language barriers and display accurately while respecting other cultures using translation services. It’s essential to be selective when choosing a translation service, as not all services are equal. Look for a service experienced in translating your specific language pair and known for its reliability.

If you’re looking for a translation service, it’s crucial to check their experience and credentials. Request samples of their work to ensure they can translate accurately for your language pair.

Considering the cultural differences between the two languages involved in the translation process is crucial to ensure accurate translations. Therefore, translators need to have knowledge and familiarity with the culture of both languages.

Final Thoughts

Javanese is an ancient language with a history spanning over 1,500 years. It evolved from the Proto-Austronesian language, the common ancestor of all other languages. Javanese’s earliest written records date back to the 8th century, and the language has been used continuously since then.

The Javanese language reflects the mostly eastern Javanese people’s unique culture and way of life. Despite its complexity, vast vocabulary, and complicated grammar, it plays a significant role in Indonesia’s culture and economy as one of its most essential languages.

Javanese is a beautiful language spoken by over 85 million people and is one of Indonesia’s official languages, alongside Indonesian and English. Javanese translations are essential for businesses, governments, and other organizations looking to communicate effectively with Javanese speakers. Despite its complexity, the language is well worth the effort to learn.

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