Old Javanese is the oldest phase of the
Javanese language that was
spoken in areas in what is now the eastern part of
Central Java and
the whole of East Java. It has strong
While evidence of writing in Java dates to the
inscription" of 450, the oldest example written entirely in Javanese,
called the "Sukabumi inscription", is dated 25 March 804. This
inscription, located in the district of Pare in the
Kediri Regency of
East Java, is actually a copy of the original, dated some 120 years
earlier; only this copy has been preserved. Its contents concern the
construction of a dam for an irrigation canal near the river Śrī
Hariñjing (nowadays Srinjing). This inscription is the last of its
kind to be written using Pallava script; all consequent examples are
written using Javanese script.
1.1 Austronesian origins
Old Javanese literature
3 See also
5 Further reading
6 External links
Old Javanese was not static, and its usage covered a period of
approximately 500 years – from the Sukabumi (Kediri, East Java)
inscription until the founding of the
Majapahit empire in 1292. The
Javanese language which was spoken and written in the Majapahit era
already underwent some changes and is therefore already closer to the
Modern Javanese language.
The most important shaping force on
Old Javanese was its Austronesian
heritage in vocabulary, sentence structure and grammar that it shared
with its sister languages in Southeast-Asia.
The Indian linguistic influence in Old
Javanese language was almost
Sanskrit influence. There is no evidence of Indian
linguistic elements in
Old Javanese other than Sanskrit. This is
different from, for example, the influence of Indian linguistic in the
(Old) Malay language.
Sanskrit has had a deep and lasting impact on the vocabulary of the
Javanese language. The
Old Javanese – English Dictionary, written by
professor P.J. Zoetmulder in 1982, contains approximately 25,500
entries, no fewer than 12,500 of which are borrowed from Sanskrit.
Clearly this large number is not an indication of usage, but it is an
indication that the Ancient Javanese knew and employed these Sanskrit
words in their literary works. In any given
Old Javanese literary
work, approximately 25% of the vocabulary is derived from Sanskrit.
Despite the tremendous influence of
Sanskrit on Old Javanese, the
latter has remained an Austronesian language. However,
also influenced both the phonology and the vocabulary of Old Javanese.
Old Javanese also contains the retroflex consonants, which might have
been derived from Sanskrit. That is disputed by several linguists, who
hold the view that it is also possible that the occurrence of these
retroflex consonants was an independent development within the
Austronesian language family.
A related question is the form in which
Sanskrit words were loaned in
Old Javanese. The borrowed
Sanskrit words in
Old Javanese are almost
without exceptions nouns and adjectives in their undeclined form
Sanskrit lingga). A wordlist of 200 basic vocabulary items is
available at the Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database which shows
some of these loans.
Old Javanese literature
Old Javanese literature can be divided in several genres such as the
aforementioned kakawin and prose.
^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds.
Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for
the Science of Human History.
^ "ABVD: Old Javanese". language.psy.auckland.ac.nz.
(in Dutch) Petrus Josephus Zoetmulder, 1950, De Taal van het Adiparwa,
(in English) Petrus Josephus Zoetmulder, 1982, Old Javanese-English
Dictionary, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. 2 v. (xxxi, 2368 p.) In
collaboration with S.O. Robson. ISBN 90-247-6178-6
(in Indonesian) Petrus Josephus Zoetmulder, 1995, Kamus Jawa
Kuna-Indonesia In collaboration with S.O Robson. Translators,
Darusuprapta, Sumarti Suprayitna. Jakarta: Hasil kerja sama Perwakilan
Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde dengan Penerbit
PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama, 1995. 2 v. ; 1. A-0 -- 2. P-Y.
(in English) Teeuw, A. and S.O. Robson. 2005 edited and translated
Bhomāntaka : the death of Bhoma Leiden: KITLV Press,
Series:Bibliotheca Indonesica; 32. ISBN 90-6718-253-2
Zoetmulder's Dictionary of Old Javane