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Javanese phrasebook

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Javanese is a significant language in Central and Eastern Java, in Indonesia. For the 100 million Javanese in Indonesia, it is their mother tongue, with Indonesian as a second language with more or less an equal level of proficiency. It is so widely spoken there are many words in Indonesian that are loaned from Javanese; prospective learners who understand at least some Indonesian can pick up Javanese with a little bit of effort. It works the other way too. As new generations are schooled in Indonesian, more and more areas of life are discussed in Indonesian. Changes in the way we live our lives require new vocabulary. Much of that, relating to computers, social media, for example, is influenced by English, with Indonesian coming a way behind. Javanese seems somewhat unaffected by the language developments needed to deal with with way we live our lives now. For that reason, a Javanese speaker now may pepper their speech with quite a lot of Indonesian (or English) to allow them to talk about cars, computers, the internet, and so on.

In the Javanese palaces of Yogyakarta and Surakarta, refined Javanese involves a wide range of interactive codes and sophisticated acknowledgement of social level in the usage of vocabulary. Another way to put it, status and position in relation to the person being spoken with, determines word use, and grammar.

Understand[edit]

Why bother learning Javanese?

Yes, it's true. For the traveller, there are very few occasions when Javanese is absolutely necessary for being understood - Indonesian can be used in almost all situations.

The different levels also don't make it easy. Not to mention that the informal ngoko can be so fast and idiomatic that a learner will quickly lose track, and the formal kråmå seems to have no application except for refined announcements and smalltalk.

But if you really want to connect with Javanese people, then their language is the way to do it. Although Indonesian is the language of government and official life, Javanese is the language of the home, and family, and affairs of the heart.

Most Javanese respond positively to attempts to use their languages, and having even a few words of Javanese will add depth to your experience of Java.

Focus on getting familiar with greetings and smalltalk. Javanese society is much concerned about saying the right thing at the right time. Taking time to learn how to use polite greetings and smalltalk will get you off to a good start.

There are at least three types of the Javanese language, which are ordered by formality. There is substantial difference in the vocabularies of each type:

  • Ngoko is typically used between friends, social equals and from a person of higher status to the lower status
  • Kromo is typically used by persons of lower social status to those of a higher status, for announcements & speeches, or to show humility
  • Kromo Madya, a blend of vocabulary from Ngoko and Kromo, is used between strangers whose social status is unknown but who don't want a too formal conversation

In addition to these three forms that are defined by the status of the people speaking to each other, there is also:

  • Kromo Inggil, a further vocabulary set that is added into the other forms when speaking to or referring to another person of very high status. Because it is used when referring to other people, it can happen that two close friends talking in low-class Ngoko (because they are social equals) about a high-status person, will replace certain key-words referring to that person, with the Kromo Inggil version. If they were speaking directly to the high-status person, they would use a mix of Kromo and Kromo Inggil.

To add to the confusion, Javanese is not strictly codified and there are significant regional variations. For example, Javanese as spoken in Surabaya has a number of differences from that in the central Java cities of Surakarta and Jogjakarta. Javanese as spoken in these two cities is considered standard, and is the version most usually taught. This phrasebook uses this version.

A very good indicator of how Javanese nuances can even be heard in a single word, the word Inggih or yes, can determine a persons status and standing, whether it sounds more gg or more jj in the pronunciation. When in a palace, if you can, without being impolite, listen to courtiers, or other people clearly of status, and hear if you can distinguish their usage, and hence identify whether they are higher or lower in status.

These levels and nuances are very real to Javanese people who will go to great lengths to make sure they are using the right level. Visitors and travellers may be sure that when attempting their first steps in Javanese, they will receive a fair hearing from their audience and not be judged too harshly if they use a word in the wrong context. They have all done it themselves at some point.

Writing[edit]

Road sign in Solo showing Latin and Javanese script

Javanese has its own writing system called Hånåcåråkå ꦲꦤꦕꦫꦏ, related to scripts such as Thai and Balinese. Though still used in official palace documents, and sometimes seen side by side with Latin script in street signs and the names of public buildings, it has been almost totally replaced by the Latin alphabet. A traveller will almost never have to read Javanese script to get information. Makes an awesome tattoo, though.

Pronunciation guide[edit]

A very few non-standard pronounciations

Javanese is largely phonetic in its spelling and pronunciation, except for a very few notable exceptions.

  • Final a is often, but not always, pronounced as in British English lot. In that case, and if the preceding vowel is also a, it will also be pronounced as in lot. This is not normally marked in text. To indicate this change to non-native speakers, å is used here to show a with an o sound.
  • The kråmå word for this/that is written punika but pronounced menikå (muh-NEE-ko).
  • The kråmå word for why/what is written punapa but pronounced menåpå (muh-NO-po).

Glottal stops are frequent but quite regular, being usually marked by a k. However, there are a couple of hidden ones:

  • Saiki/sapunikå meaning now both have a strong glottal stop after the first syllable (SA'-ikih, SA'-muh-NEE-ko). Note that -punikå is pronounced -muh-NEE-ko as explained above.

The guide below includes the names of the single letters. It's useful to know how to spell out your name, for example if buying tickets over the phone.

Vowels[edit]

a ah 
like British English hat. See the information box on non-standard pronunciations.
e eh 
either ay as in English say, or uh as in English comma (schwa). The difference is not usually shown in text. An acute accent é is used here to show the e with the ay sound.
i ih 
like English pin, hit
o oh 
like English hope, or English lot. Not normally differentiated in writing. Here the difference will be shown phonetically.
u oo 
like English moon

Consonants[edit]

Don't worry about getting the aspirated (with a small puff of air) and retroflex (with the tongue curled up at the top of the mouth) sounds perfect, you will be understood.

b bay 
like English bird
bh 
aspirated, like English abhor
c say
like English chin
d day
like English dog
dh 
retroflex, like English mudhut
f ef 
like English fun
g gay 
like English go
h hah 
like English hand
j jay 
like English jump
k kah 
like English kill. A final k will almost always be a glottal stop, the sound of the first h in uh-oh. In the phonetic representations, this is shown as ': bapak (bapa').
kh 
aspirated, like English sinkhole
l el 
like English love
m em 
like English me
n en 
like English nose
ng 
like English singer
ngg 
like English finger
ny 
like English canyon, like Spanish mañana
p pay 
like English push
q kee 
like English kill
r er 
like Spanish perro
s es 
like English sun
sy 
like English should
t tay 
like English top
th 
retroflex, like English lighthouse
v vay 
as in Spanish vaca, between English v and w, but without the lip rounding of an English w. (IPA: ʋ).
w way 
like English win
x eks 
like English six
y yay 
like English yes
z zed 
like 's' in English has, like 'z' in English zero

Common diphthongs[edit]

Phrase list[edit]

Some phrases in this phrasebook still need to be translated. If you know anything about this language, you can help by plunging forward and translating a phrase.

Basics[edit]

Ps&Qs

Please and thank you work a little differently in Javanese than in English. If being offered something, rather than accepting with Yes, please, you need to say Yes (thank you): iyå (suwun). The thank you is highly optional here, just yes/iyå on it's own is perfectly fine. The Javanese use this kind of construction much less than English speakers use yes, please. If you do want to say it with the suwun, make sure the iyå is clear. To be offered something and just say suwun would indicate that you do NOT want it: no thank you. Javanese use please in the sense of inviting you to do something (månggå MONG-goh), much more frequently: please start eating, please excuse me, please let me walk by you, please let me take my leave, etc. There doesn't seem to be a situation in Java where månggå is not appropriate.

Saying no and not

Ora (OR-ah) and mboten (MBOH-tuhn) are the straightforward ways of saying no or not. But there are other ways of doing it. For a start, ora and mboten only work with verbs, adjectives and adverbs: aku ora mlaku (I am not walking), pitipun mboten abrit (the bike isn't red) or bisé ora banter (the bus isn't fast).

If you need to negate a noun, use dudu ngoko and sanés kråmå: Iki dudu gedhang (This is not a banana). Punika sanés pantun (This is not a rice plant).

Some Javanese people may be shy of the finality of no/not, choosing to say not yet, durung ngoko, déréng kråmå. So, you may hear someone saying they can't speak English say kulå déréng saged båså Inggris (I don't yet know how to speak English) regardless of whether they actually have any intention of ever trying to learn. Kurang.

Referring to others politely

Honorifics are widely used in Java to refer to, or address, someone.

Bapak/Pak (male) / Ibu/Bu (female)
literally father/mother. For those older than ourselves or in a position of authority. Defaulting to this is usually safe.
Mas (male) / Mbak (female)
literally older brother/sister. Still largely in the same age group or slightly younger. Also those serving in restaurants and shops.
Adhi/Dik
literally younger brother/sister. Small children.

Ngoko followed by kråmå (if any). If only one version is given, it works in both ngoko and kråmå. If there are kråmå andhap or kråmå inggil terms they will be indicated by ka and ki respectively.

Though stress is indicated, it tends to be light, and there will be a general feeling of evenness across a phrase. If anywhere, stress most often falls on the second to last syllable.

Hello 
Halo (HA-loh).
How are you? 
Piyé kabaré? (pee-YAY ka-ba-RAY?). Kados pundi kabaripun? (KA-dos PUN-dee ka-BA-ree-pun?)
Fine, thank you 
Apik-apik waé (A-pi' A-pi' WA-ay). Pangéstinipun saé (pang-est-EENEE-pun SAH-ay)
What is your name? 
Jenengmu såpå? (JUH-nuhng-moo SO-po). Asmanipun panjenengan sinten? (as-MA-nee-pun pan-JUH-nuhng-an SIN-tuhn?)
My name is ______ 
Jenengku _____ (JUH-nuhng-koo ______). Nami kulå _____ (NA-mee koo-LO ______).
Nice to meet you 
Seneng ketemu (suh-NUHNG kuh-tuh-MOO). Bingah kepanggih (BING-ah kuh-PANG-gee).
Please 
Månggå (mong-GO). Used only in the 'inviting' sense: "Please sit down".
Thank you 
Matur nuwun (MAH-toor noo-WOON).
Thank you very much 
Matur nuwun sanget (MAH-toor noo-WOON SANG-uht).
You're welcome 
Sami-sami (SAH-mee SAH-mee).
How old are you? 
Umuré pirå? (OOM-oor-ay PEE-ro?). Umur panjenengan pinten, inggih? (OOM-oor pan-JUH-nuhng-ahn PIN-tuhn, IHNG-gay?).
Where are you from? 
Såkå ngendi? (SO-ko NGUHN-dee?). Panjenengan saking pundi? (pan-JUH-nuhng-ahn SAH-king POON-dee?).
I am from_____. 
Aku såkå _____. (AH-koo SO-ko _____). Kulå saking _____. (KOO-lo SAH-king _____.)
Where do you live? 
Manggoné néng ngendi? (Mahng-GON-nay NEHNG NGUHN-dee?) Lenggahipun pundi inggih? (Luhng-GAH-ee-poon POON-dee IHNG-gay?)
I live in _____. 
Aku manggon néng _____ (AH-koo MANG-gon NEHNG _____). Kulå manggén wonten _____ (KOO-lo MANG-gehn WON-tuhn_____.)
Where have you been? 
Såkå ngendi? (SO-ko NGUHN-dee?). Saking pundi? (SAH-king POON-dee?).
Where are you going? 
Arep lungå nyang ngendi? (AH-ruhp LOONG-o nyang NGUHN-dee?). Badhé tindak dhateng pundi? (BAH-day TIN-da' DAH-tuhng POON-dee?)
Just going for a walk 
Mlaku-mlaku waé (MLAH-koo MLAH-koo WAH-ay).
I am going to_____. 
Aku arep nyang _____ (AH-koo AH-ruhp nyang _____). Kulå badhé dhateng _____ (KOO-lo BAH-day DAH-tuhng _____).
Can you accompany me to...? 
Can you take me to...? 
What is your work? 
Gawéanmu åpå? (GAH-way-an-moo O-po?). Damelipun panjenengan punåpå? (da-MEL-ee-poon pan-juh-NUHNG-an muh-NO-po?)
What are you doing? 
Lagi åpå? (LA-gee O-po). Saweg punapa, inggih? (SAH-wuhg muh-NO-po, IHNG-gay?)
Where do you go to school? 
Sekolahmu ngendi? (suh-KOH-lah-moo NGUHN-dee?).
Yes 
Iyå (ee-YO). Inggih (ihng-GAY). It is also usual to just repeat the relevant word (here shown in ngoko): Do you have the eggs? Have. Ånå endhogé? Ånå.
No 
Ora (OR-ah). Mboten (MBOH-tuhn). As with the affirmative, a negative answer can just be the relevant word, negated (here shown in kråmå): Do you have the eggs? Not have. Punåpå penjenengan wonten tiganipun? Mboten wonten.
Don't 
Åjå (O-jo). Sampun (sam-POON)
Maybe 
Mbok menåwå (mbo' muh-NO-wo).
And 
Lan (lahn)
But 
Nanging (NANG-ing)
Or 
Utawi (oo-TAH-wee)
Also 
Uga (OO-ga). Ugi (OO-gee).
With 
Karo (KA-roh). Kaliyan (kah-lee-YAN).
Without 
Tanpa (TAN-pah).
Because
Sebab (SUH-bab).
Why 
Kenåpå (kuh-NO-po).
How 
Kepriyé (kuh-PREE-yay). Kadospundi (KAH-dohs-PUN-dee).
Excuse me(getting attention
Anu... (AH-noo...). Nuwun séwu (NOO-woon SAY-woo).
I'm sorry 
Ma'af (ma'-AHF). Ngapunten (Nga-PUN-tuhn). Nyuwun pangapunten (NYU-woon pah-nga-PUN-tuhn).
Goodbye! 
Ati-ati (A-ti A-ti (meaning take care): a frequent way of saying goodbye, especially if someone is leaving.
I can't speak Javanesese [well] 
Aku ora iså båså Jåwå [sing apik] (A-koo OH-ra IH-so BO-so JO-wo [sing A-pi']). Kulå mboten saged båså Jåwå [saé] (KOO-lo MBOH-tuhn SA-guhd BO-so JO-wo [SA-ay]).
Do you speak English? 
[Kowé] Iså [ngomong] båså Inggris? ([KOH-way] EE-so [NGO-mong] BO-so IHNG-rihs?). [Panjenengan] saged båså Inggris? (Pan-JUH-nuhng-an] SA-guhd BO-so IHNG-rihs?).
Is there someone here who speaks English? 
Åpå ånå sing iså båså Inggris? (OP-o On-o sing EE-so BO-so ING-grihs?). Punåpå wonten ingkang saged båså Inggris? (Muh-NO-po WON-tuhn ing-KANG SA-guhd BO-so ING-grihs?).
Help! 
Tulung! (TOO-loong!).
Look out! 
Awas!' (Ah-WAHS!).
Take care 
Ati-ati (A-tee-A-tee).
Good morning 
Sugeng énjang (SOO-guhng EHN-jang).
Good evening 
Sugeng sonten (SOO-guhng SON-tuhn).
Good night (in the sense of sleep well
Sugeng dalu (SOO-guhng DAH-loo).

I don't understand Yes, I speak/understand a little. Who is he/she? What is he/she saying? What do you mean? Please say it again. Please say it more slowly. Please write it down. Let's go! Wait! Can I speak to ...? (on the phone) One moment

How do you say ...? 
Piyé carané ngomong ....? (PEE-yay CHA-ra-nay NGOH-mong...?). Pripun caranipun pitutur ....? (PRIH-poon cha-RA-nee-pun pih-TOO-TOOR...?)
What is this/that called? 
Iki/iku åpå? (IH-kih/IH-kooh opo?). Niki/niku nåpå? (NIH-kih/NIH-koo no-po?)
I don't understand 
[Aku] ora mudeng ([AH-koo] OR-ah moo-DUHNG). [Kulå] mboten ngertos ([KOO-lo] MBOH-tuhn NGUHR-tos).
Where is the toilet? 
Paturasanipun wọnten pundi? (Pa-too-rah-SAH-nee-poon WOHN-tuhn POON-dee?)

Persons[edit]

Problems[edit]

Police! 
Polisi!
Stop! Thief! 
Mandeg! Maling!
I'm lost 
Aku kesasar. Kulå kesasar.
I'm sick 
Kulå sakit.

Numbers[edit]

Angka Ngoko Kråmå
1 siji (SIH-jih) setunggal (suh-TUNG-gahl)
2 loro (LOH-roh) kalih (KAH-lih)
3 telu (TUH-loo) tigå (TEE-go)
4 papat (PAH-pat) sekawan (suh-KAH-wan)
5 limå (LIH-mo) gangsal (GANG-sal)
6 enem (uh-NUHM) enem (uh-NUHM)
7 pitu (PIT-oo) pitu (PIT-oo)
8 wolu (WOL-oo) wolu (WOL-oo)
9 sångå (SONG-oh) sångå (SONG-oh)
10 sepuluh (suh-POO-looh) sedåså (suh-DOH-so)
11 sewelas (SUH-wuh-las] setunggal welas (sewelas)
12 rolas (ROH-las) kalih welas
13 telulas (TUH-loo-las) tiga welas
14 patbelas (PAT-buh-las) sekawan welas
15 limålas (LEE-mo-las) gangsal welas
16 nembelas (NUHM-buh-las) enem welas
17 pitulas (PIH-too-las) pitulas (PIH-too-las)
18 wolulas (WO-loo-las) wolulas (WO-loo-las)
19 sångålas (SONG-oh-las) sångålas (SONG-oh-las)
20 rong puluh (RONG POO-looh) kalih dåså
21 selikur (suh-LIH-koor) selikur/kalih dåså setunggal
22 rolikur (roh-LIH-koor) kalih likur
23 telulikur (TUH-looh-LIH-koor) tigang likur
24 patlikur (pat-LIH-koor) sekawan likur
25 selawé (suh-LAH-way) selangkung
26 nemlikur (nuhm-LIH-koor) nemlikur
30 telung puluh (tuh-LOONG LIH-koor) tigang dåså
31 telung puluh siji tigang dåså setunggal
32 telung puluh loro tigang dåså kalih
40 patang puluh sekawan dåså
41 patang puluh siji sekawan dåså setunggal
42 patang puluh loro sekawan dåså kalih
50 séket séket
51 séket siji séket setunggal
52 séket loro séket kalih
60 sewidak sewidak
61 sewidak siji sewidak setunggal
62 sewidak loro sewidak kalih
70 pitung puluh pitu dåså
80 wolung puluh wolu dåså
90 sangang puluh sanga dåså
100 satus setunggal atus
101 satus siji setunggal atus setunggal
102 satus loro setunggal atus kalih
120 satus rong puluh setunggal atus kalih dåså
121 satus selikur setunggal atus kalih dåså setunggal
200 rong atus kalih atus
500 limang atus gangsal atus
1,000 séwu setunggal éwu
1,001 séwu siji setunggal éwu setunggal
1,002 séwu loro setunggal èwu kalih
1.500 séwu limang atus setunggal èwu gangsal atus
1,520 séwu limang atus rong puluh setunggal èwu gangsal atus kalih dåså
1,550 séwu limang atus sèket setunggal èwu gangsal atus sèket
1.551 séwu limang atus sèket siji setunggal èwu gangsal atus sèket setunggal
2,000 rong èwu kalih èwu
5,000 limang èwu gangsal èwu
10,000 sepuluh èwu sedasa èwu
100,000 satus èwu setunggal atus èwu
500,000 limang atus èwu gangsal atus èwu
1,000,000 sayuta setunggal yuta
1,562,155 sayuta limang atus swidak loro èwu satus sèket lima setunggal yuta gangsal atus sewidak kalih èwu setunggal atus sèket gangsal

Time[edit]

now 
saiki (...). sapunika
later 
mengko (...). mangké
before 
sadurung (...). sadéréng
after 
(...)
already 
wis (...). sampun (...).
not yet 
belum (buh-LEUHM). The 'u' is like the `oo' in `foot'
morning (dawn until around 11
00) : esuk
noon/early afternoon (11
00-15:00) : awan
late afternoon (15
00 until sunset) : sore
night 
bengi
dawn 
subuh (...)
dusk 
maghrib/senja

Clock time[edit]

one o'clock AM 
jam siji esuk (...)
two o'clock AM 
(...)
noon 
(...)
one o'clock PM 
(...)
two o'clock PM 
(...)
midnight 
(...)

Duration[edit]

_____ second(s) 
_____ (...)
_____ minute(s) 
_____ menit
_____ hour(s) 
_____ jam
_____ day(s) 
_____ dina/ dinten
_____ week(s) 
_____ minggu
_____ month(s) 
_____ wulan
_____ year(s) 
_____ taun

Days[edit]

today 
(...)
yesterday 
the day before yesterday 
tomorrow 
the day after tomorrow 
three days after today 
this week 
last week 
next week 
Monday 
Senén (suh-NEHN)
Tuesday 
Selåså (suh-LO-so)
Wednesday 
Rebo (RUH-boh)
Thursday 
Kemis (KUH-mihs)
Friday 
Jumawah (juh-MAH-wah)
Saturday 
Setu (SUH-too)
Sunday 
Minggu (MING-goo)

There is also a five-day week running concurrently with the seven-day week. The days are Pon (pon), Wagé (WAH-gay), Kliwon (klee-WON), Legi (luh-GEE) and Paing (pah-ING). The five-day cycle is still in limited use. Rural markets, especially livestock markets, may still be held on one of the days of the five-day cycle. Combining both 7- and 5-day cycles gives an overall 35-day cycle. Particular days in that cycle may be noted as being auspicious. For example, Jumat Kliwon is considered to have spiritual significance, and people may take the time on that day to visit and clean up family graves.

Months[edit]

Writing time and date[edit]

Colors[edit]

black 
white 
gray 
red 
blue 
yellow 
green 
orange 
purple 
light brown 
dark brown 

Transportation[edit]

Bus and train[edit]

Directions[edit]

left 
kiwo
right 
tengen
straight ahead 
lurus/kenceng
north 
ler/lor
south 
kidul
east 
wetan
west 
kilen/kulon

Taxi[edit]

Lodging[edit]

Money[edit]

Most things to do with money, such as banking, money changers, credit cards, and so on, is done in Indonesian. Being able to count money in Javanese will be useful in a traditional market or small local shop. The following phrase might come in useful:

Where is the ATM? 
ATMé ngendi? (ah-tay-em-ay NGUHN-dee?). ATMipun pundi? (at-tay-em-i-poon POON-dee?)

Eating[edit]

Bars[edit]

Shopping[edit]

A traditional market is certainly a place where you could use Javanese. In more old-fashioned stores that still have shop assistants who follow you around, they will always open the conversation in Indonesian with Cari apa? (What are you looking for?), but you could quickly move the conversation into Javanese - asking for things in a different size, or a different colour.

Sell 
Buy 
Do you have this in my size? 
How much is this? 
Is this pirated? 
May I pay _____? 
(too) expensive 
cheap 
I don't want it. 
Don't even think about it. 
Can you lower the price? 
The quality is not good. 
I don't want that. 
OK, I'll buy it. 
I don't need a plastic bag 
Aku ora butuh krésék (AH-koo OH-ra BOO-tooh KREH-sehk). Kulå mboten betah krésék (KOO-lo MBOH-tuhn BUH-tah KREH-sehk). Cheap, low grade plastic bags are given out liberally in shops and food outlets. Most of them end up being burned or thrown in the river, where they eventually make their way to the ocean. Please don't accept one if you really don't need it.
It's cheaper over there. 
Do you ship (overseas)? 
I need... 
...toothpaste. 
...a toothbrush. 
...condoms. 
...tampons. 
...soap. 
...shampoo. 
...pain reliever. (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen
...cold medicine. 
...stomach medicine. 
...a razor. 
...an umbrella. 
...postage stamps. 
...batteries. 
...a pen. 
...English-language books. 
...English-language magazines. 
...an English-language newspaper. 
...an English-Javanese dictionary. 

Driving[edit]

Pretty much all the words related to cars and driving are in Indonesian. Road signs and directions are all in Indonesian. Javanese might be useful, though, if you are driving in a rural area and need to ask for directions.

Slowly, please, driver' : ingkang alon-alon, nggih, Pak (ing-KANG AH-lon AH-lon, NG-gay, Pa).

Authority[edit]

The language of government and officialdom in Java is Indonesian. Feel free to use your politest kråmå to open the discussion and pass the time of day, though.

Learning more[edit]

This Javanese phrasebook is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!