Learn Javanese

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About Javanese

Javanese - baṣa Jawa - is the native language of about 40% of the population of Indonesia. Its speakers mostly live on the island of Java and are generally also fluent in Indonesian. It is related to Malay, Sundanese and Madurese, although not closely. Javanese has a strong literary tradition dating over 1000 years. Nowadays, the Latin alphabet, introduced by the Dutch, is used, although a separate Javanese alphabet exists for scholarly use.

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Fun facts — Javanese

  • Different words are used when speaking to older and younger people, and between people of different status. For example, 'to eat' can be 'mangan', 'nedha', 'nedhi' or 'dhahar' depending who is speaking to whom.
  • A common way to scold someone in Javanese is to call him a 'bedhes' or 'monkey'!
  • Javanese is the only Indonesian language spoken by a large number of people in a South American country. It is spoken by several thousand people in Suriname, next to Northern Brazil.

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