Learning Javanese Words & Phrases

Aug 28th, 2008, in IM Posts, Opinion, by

Purba Negoro on the future of Javanese language, and learning some easy words and phrases.

Hello all,

Being a foreigner in Indonesia is indeed hard - but new friends are made instantly when you speak to them in their language - Indonesian. To an Indonesian it means a highly respected white values them enough to bother learning, what many Indonesians truly believe is a backward, provincial, idiotic language - in comparison to English or other European language.

Even more enamouring to the majority - 45%+ of Indonesians - and guaranteed to get you astonished faces and gasps you wish you could capture on film - is speaking some polite Javanese - or Kromo Inggil.

Many wrongly claim Javanese is extinct or dying. Actually - the complete opposite is true - we are finding many young people keen to learn. Sri Gusti Sultan Hamengkubuwana IX has vigourously re-introduced this ancient and beautiful language into his Kingdom - the minor Principalities following suit.

Javanese has been long part of the compulsory primary curriculum of Central Java - as have many regional languages like Batak, Sundanese, Balinese etc - even widely spoken Irian languages - even East Timorese language of Tetum (this is why it is alive still today). See we are not entirely evil.

In Central Java, street signs are becoming bi-lingual, house names - even Wikipedia in Javanese!

And I just bought as new Javanese dictionary to replace my ancient Dutch one - published 2008.

This is almost a complete reversal of Indonesian mindset - to elevate a perceived "kampungan" or provincial language. By all means - we must preserve all our ethnic languages- it is what makes us Indonesians so unique

Until about 1938 - Javanese was very much alive as a language - including a very widely circulated Surabayan newspaper printed entirely in Javanese script.

Tagalog has many Javanese loan words- like 'aso' (Javanese is: asuk) for dog.

So here are some very easy basic words that will garner you the affection of your beloved man/womans' all powerful Javanese mother - you speak this polite Javanse- "you are in like Flynn":

Note (e in Javanese is almost always the 'e' in "enam" or British pronunciation of 'example'.

I have spelt as pronounced.:

  • Thank-you- Matur Nyuwun
  • You're welcome: Sami-sami
  • Excuse Me/Beg your Pardon/I'm Sorry- Nyuwun Sewu ultra polite: nyuwun pangapuro
  • Excuse me as in: May I beg your leave? ke Pareng
  • How are you? Kado?s pundi kabaripun? or pripun kabaripun? (ultra polite)
  • May I pass? ndhere langkung? (it literally means- may I pass on your left)
  • Who? Sinten?
  • Here: wonten mriki
  • There: wonten mriko
  • Yes? (as in being called): Dalem Mas/mBak? Dalem Pak/Bu? Dalem sayang?

Age names:

  • Jeng- younger girlfriend
  • Nak- for children
  • Mas/mBak- older brother/sister- anyone slightly younger, same age or older by roughly 10 years
  • Pak/Bu- mother/father- anyone older by 10- 15 years
  • Pak de/Bu de- big father/mother- senior by 15+ years or until about age 65-ish
  • Eyang- grandma/pa- anyone obviously very senior around 70's ish unless they object (Javanese can be very vain)!
  • No (as in tidak)- boten
  • No- (as in bukan)- sanes (with e is as in 'keg')
  • welcome - sugeng rawuh
  • Good evening= Sugeng Dalu
  • Good Afternoon= Sugeng sonten (sore time)
  • Good Morning= Sugeng injang
  • Bon voyage= Sugeng tindak
  • Bon appetit!= Sugeng dahar
  • Please Eat= Monggo dahar
  • Happy Birthday: Sugeng Ambel Warsa!
  • Please (action implied- like silahkan)- monggo
  • I Love you: Dalem tresno panjenengan

Yo wes. Cekap. Parang ya?

50 Comments on “Learning Javanese Words & Phrases”

  1. avatar Sen says:


    I wish the Java Script & Bali should be preserved and used.

    The Central Java People should learn Java Script and Indonesian Bahasa.

    Bali People should use Balinese script

    I speak Tamil and i have read that Tamil ( TAM ) , Java script ( JAV ) came from Brahmi….We can see the similarity in the SCRIPT.

    Letters Na ,na , Pa , Ya ,Va, Ha

    Tamil is spoken in South India state ( TAMIL Nadu ), Srilanka, Malaysia and Singapore.



    unicode :


    Senthil Durai

  2. avatar Bert says:

    Recently there is a Dutch website with a small Javanese wordlist included


  3. avatar Marty says:

    Wah, mesti tiyangipun ingkang nyerat artikel punika sanes tiyang Jawi. Lan kok wonten tiyang ingkang kinten basanipun \\\”provincial and idiotic.\\\” Lan tembung \\\”pripun\\\” ateges \\\”kados pundi\\\” ananging \\\”very polite?\\\” Kirang pinter lha.

  4. avatar Suryo Perkoso says:

    fullmoonflower Says:

    December 19th, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    even “banget” is Javanese…

    “banget” means “very”, whereas Bahasa Indonesia already has “sangat”… but people prefer to use “banget” than “sangat”..

    don’t know why…

    “sanget” I believe in Inggil – Pak Mantri is bound to know

  5. avatar khai says:

    When Suharto created a national language called Bahasa Indonesia, it was meant to unify the whole state towards independence, including that of the Outer Islands and not just the Java mainland. Fast forward 50+ years, and I still doubt this has been achieved.

  6. avatar Pakmantri says:


    When Suharto created a national language called Bahasa Indonesia,

    Say what …………….????????????? Are you serious?

  7. avatar Dahim says:

    Very Good. I was born in Sumatera and my parents were born in Surabaya and Ponorogo. Unfotunely, I can’t speak Kromo Inggil although I heard my parents speaking in Kromo Inggil each other. How can I buy a Kromo Inggil dictionary, have you any idea? Thank You.

  8. avatar Mike says:

    How do you say , Happy birthday in indonesia?

  9. avatar Chris says:

    How do you say , Happy birthday in indonesia?

    Selamat ulang tahun

    sir-LARM-art OO-lung TAR-houn

  10. avatar tika says:

    thank you very much for this nice post. It help me a lot to explain about javanese language to my foreign friends. There are a lot of people from other countries get interest to learn javanese. Can I copy your posting on my blog? Matur nuwun sanget :)

  11. avatar Chris says:

    @khai (September 19th, 2009 at 8:04 pm)
    Excuse me, it was Sukarno, not Suharto.

    Regards, Chris

  12. avatar seruni says:

    Permisi Pak, temen saya ngirim tulisan yg ada kata2 begini:


    itu bahasa Jawa ya Pak? Maaf saya dari Bandung, he he…

    Terima kasih…

  13. avatar Aoldebeken says:

    I was wondering what does the javanese word “wakakkakaka” mean? Someone used it in a message to me and I am trying to find the meaning. Thank you in advance.

  14. avatar Lesmi says:

    “wakakaka” is actually a laughing sound. Like: LOL (Laugh Out Loud).

  15. avatar Hafz says:

    Perhaps it’s time Javanese was made simpler, to make it easier for non-Javanese to learn.

    I wish Javanese was the national language… but I think this would make other provinces (eg. Aceh, Papua) even more rebellious.

  16. avatar Hafz says:


    “Wakaka” is another version of “lol”… Many Chinese and Japanese kids write this too.

  17. avatar Hafz says:


    I tried saying that, but then I heard everyone else say it “Sla-mert Oolang tOWn” (like the English “town”)

  18. avatar ved says:

    hi, any ideas as to what bohh means?

  19. avatar jailani saleh says:

    I was born and raised as a Malay but my OS is Javanese. Im in my 50s and starting to love everything Javanese. I find it difficult to translate Javanese Kromo into English or Malay as there are no standard spelling and hence even if there is an online dictionary available because of differences in spellings what you asked for turned out something else. I appreciate the work done by many Malaysians but most of these works are in Javanese Ngoko. Cant blame us ( I am part of the Javanese diaspora and is neither Malaysian or Indonesian). Malaysian Javanese are also part of the Diaspora. Our ancestors left Java many years ago, most poor peasants looking for a better life.

    Many of us are hungry to learn about being Javanese and returning to our roots.

  20. avatar AndreBeckham says:

    I love the javanese i am a singaporean and i my relatives stay at Dumai riau and I don’t speak Javanese too much and I finally get to find this learning Javanese words and phrases and I am so thank you to this website

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