Javanese is the traditional script used to write the language of the same name. Belonging to the Polynesian family of languages, Javanese is spoken by about 70 million people in Indonesia. In the past, Javanese script was also used for writing the Balinese and Sundanese languages.
Javanese script, known also by the native name tjarakan, was originally based on Brahmi, the ancient Indic script and boasts 22 consonants and 6 vowels. As is the case for all scripts modeled after Brahmi1, Javanese shows a syllabic structure. In fact, its name for the syllables, aksara, is identical to the Indic (Sanskrit) term. Each aksara consists of a consonant or a consonant cluster, with an inherent vowel. In order to replace the inherent vowel of an aksara, one can add to it a vowel mark known natively as sandhangan swara. Alternatively, the inherent vowel of a syllable can be muted by a pangku, a special mark which acts solely as a vowel suppressor. Again, this feature is a mainstay of Indic-derived scripts (compare to virama under 'Devanagari'). Consonant clusters are formed by attaching a pasangan (a special subscript form of a consonant) to the main consonant of a syllable. Another special form of consonant, called aksara gedhé or aksara murda, is used for writing proper names. Besides the common punctuation marks such as comma or colon, Javanese script also includes indigenous marks used exclusively for poetry and letter writing.
The development of typefaces for Javanese began in the early 19th century and came to an abrupt end with the start of World War II. In everyday use, Javanese script has been almost entirely supplanted by Latin script which was introduced by the Dutch during the 19th century.
1 For a fuller description of the features of Brahmi-derived scripts, see
Copyright © 1997-2000 Agfa Monotype Corporation. All rights reserved.
All other trademarks the property of their respective owners.