Language And Literature Of. Javanese Java, spoken in Java and several small adjacent islands, belongs to the Malayan division of the Malayo-Polynesian group of languages, and is most closely related to Malay proper. It has the peculiarity of employing special forms and flexions for addressing superior or inferior persons. The manner of speaking to subordinates is called basa noko, or simply noko, commanding speech; and that to superiors basa krama, or only krama, humble speech. A third mode of conversing, namely, between equals, or as a condescension toward a person of lower rank, is called basa madya, middle speech. In the presence of the sovereign or his ambassadors still another form of speaking is observed, called basa kraton, the court language. The ancient Javanese literature, the beginnings of which can be traced to the first century of our era, is written in a language thoroughly impregnated with Sanskrit elements, and bearing the name of Kavi, the poet's tongue. The Sunda language, spoken in the western portion of the island, is somewhat related to Javanese, but is clearly distinguished from it by many peculiarities.
The Javanese alphabet consists of 20 consonants and 6 vowel sounds; but the latter are not considered by the natives to form part of it, as they are only supplementary characters, as in Arabic. The graphic system is derived from the Indian Devanagari.
The Javanese employ at the end of words abridged forms of the regular characters, as given in the second column of the alphabet. These twenty letters represent the native sounds only. There are besides the haksara gede or haksara murda, large or capital letters, which are intended to be used in rendering Indic words, but rarely employed. Arabic sounds are indicated by a diacritic sign, consisting of three dots, above the letters. The foreign elements of the language are mutilated, nevertheless, in as great a degree as Chinese is distorted by the Japanese. The sounds f and ch are wanting. Consonants have an inherent o, for which reason many Indian words possessing the vowel a are pronounced with o, without necessarily a change in the orthography. The gender and number of nouns are indicated by accompanying adjectives. The genitive case is formed by inflection, but the other relations of words are either expressed by prepositions or left to be inferred. Adjectives admit of no distinction of gender, number, or case, and of comparison only by extrinsic means. Pronouns are equally invariable.
There is none for the third person singular or plural, none for the second person plural, and only haku in Noko for the first person singular, Kita and kami for the same in the plural, and kove for the second person singular. The suffix pronouns in Noko are -ku, I; -mu, thou; -he, he; the last is rendered -na in Krama, and the second person singular -ta in Kavi. It is customary, however, to omit pronouns, and when possible to use instead the titles of the person addressed. There are other pronominal forms, but not properly such, which are used profusely in humble and ceremonial forms of speech. The simple form of the verb indicates present time, but for clearness or emphasis some word signifying now Or still is introduced. Past time is expressed by the particle sampun in Krama, hempun in middle, and wis or wus in Noko, meaning past or already. The particle lade in Krama, laical in Noko, or the word harsa in the former, harep in the latter, meaning to will, or the will, indicates the future tense. The active and passive voices are distinguished, but the latter is not properly such, and rather a nominal form.
Thus the verb tandak, to seize, is conjugated as follows: haku nandak, I seize; haku vis nyandak, I have seized; haku bakal nyandak, I shall seize; and dak tandak, by me has been seized. Verbs obtain a passive meaning also by inserting in, as rayah, to rob, rina-yah, to be robbed. The infix um forms neuter verbs. For the numerals see the comparative table in the article on the Malayo-Polynesian languages. Most of the parts of speech can be changed one into another by the use of prefixes, suffixes, or infixes, either singly or combined. - While the language is very copious in some respects, it is exceedingly meagre in others. There are two and even three names for some metals, but there is no equivalent for metal or mineral; so there is no word for animal, while there are five words for dog, six for hog, and seven for horse. There are expressions for 10 ways of standing, and 20 of sitting; and there are 50 for the different modifications of sound. Thus in unimportant trifles the Javanese language has a store of endless distinctions, while useful words, or such as seem to us absolutely necessary, are utterly wanting. - Literature. There is a multitude of chronicles and historical works written in Javanese. Other ancient books are religious, Buddhistic1, astronomical, astrological, etc.
Most interesting to oriental scholars are the adaptations and elaborations of Indian materials. Thus the Ramayana is based on the old Hindoo Rdmd-yana, the Brata-yuda on the Mahabharata, and the Sastra manava on Manu's book of laws. There is also an abundance of romantic literature. Peculiar are the carefully prepared texts for the puppet shows, which are generally epopees with heroes borrowed from the Hindoos. Several histories of Java have been written, and others specially treat the history of the domains of various native princes. Missionaries have introduced works on the Christian religion. Winter translated into Javanese "The Thousand and One Nights " and several other works, and a Javanese newspaper has recently been established. - See Crawfurd, " History of the Indian Archipelago " (Edinburgh, 1830); Wil-helm von Humboldt, Ueber die Kawisprache (3 vols., Berlin, 1836-'9); the grammars by Gericke (Batavia, 1831) and Roorda van Ey-singa (Amsterdam, 1855); and Gericke's Ja-vaansch-Nederduitsch handwoordenboek (new ed. by T. Roorda, Amsterdam, 1871 et seq.).