3064 words Sundanese language - Wikipedia

Sundanese (/sʌndəˈnz/;[2]Basa Sunda, /basa sʊnda/, in Sundanese script: ᮘᮞ ᮞᮥᮔ᮪ᮓ) is a Malayo-Polynesian language spoken by the Sundanese. It has approximately 39 million native speakers in the western third of Java; they represent about 15% of Indonesia's total population.

Basa Sunda
ᮘᮞ ᮞᮥᮔ᮪ᮓ
Word Sunda in Sundanese script
Word "Sunda" written in Official Sundanese script
Native toJava, Indonesia
RegionWest Java, Banten, Jakarta, parts of western Central Java, southern Lampung, also spoken by the Sundanese diaspora all over Indonesia and throughout the world
Native speakers
40 million (2016)[1]
Early form
DialectsBaduy language
Bantenese language
Brebian Sundanese
Cirebonese Sundanese
Northern Sundanese
Priangan Sundanese
Latin script (present)
Sundanese script (present; optional)
Old Sundanese script (14th century AD-present; optional)
Sundanese Cacarakan script (certain areas)
Sundanese Pegon script (Religious use only)
Buda Script (present, optional)
Kawi script (historical)
Pallava (historical)
Pranagari (historical)
Vatteluttu (historical)
Official status
Official language in
Banten (regional)
West Java (regional)
Language codes
ISO 639-1su
ISO 639-2sun
ISO 639-3sun
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.
A Sundanese lontar manuscript written in Sundanese script.
The first page from the manuscript of Carita Waruga Guru which uses the Old Sundanese script and Old Sundanese language.
Aksara Sunda (Sundanese script)
A Sundanese speaker, recorded in Indonesia.


According to American linguist Robert Blust, Sundanese is closely related to the Malayic languages, as well as to language groups spoken in Borneo such as the Land Dayak languages or the Kayan–Murik languages, based on high lexical similarities between these languages.[3][4] It is more distantly related to Madurese and Javanese.


Sundanese has several dialects, conventionally described according to the locations of the people:

The Priangan dialect, which covers the largest area where Sundanese people lives (Parahyangan in Sundanese), is the most widely spoken type of Sundanese language, taught in elementary till senior-high schools (equivalent to twelfth-year school grade) in West Java and Banten Province.


The language has been written in different writing systems throughout history. The earliest attested documents of the Sundanese language were written in the Old Sundanese script (Aksara Sunda Kuno). After the arrival of Islam, the Pegon script is also used, usually for religious purposes. The Latin script then began to be used after the arrival of Europeans. In modern times, most of Sundanese literature is written in Latin. The regional government of West Java and Banten are currently promoting the use of Standard Sundanese script (Aksara Sunda Baku) in public places and road signs. The Pegon script is still used mostly by pesantrens (Islamic boarding school) in West Java and Banten or in Sundanese Islamic literature.[5]


Sundanese orthography is highly phonemic (see also Sundanese script).


There are seven vowels: a /a/, e /ɛ/, i /i/, o /ɔ/, u /u/, e /ə/, and eu /ɨ/.[6]

Front Central Back
Close i ɨ u
Mid ɛ ə ɔ
Open a


According to Müller-Gotama (2001) there are 18 consonants in the Sundanese phonology: /b/, /tʃ/, /d/, /ɡ/, /h/, /dʒ/, /k/, /l/, /m/, /n/, /p/, /r/, /s/, /ŋ/, /t/, /ɲ/, /w/, /j/; however, influences from foreign languages have introduced several additional consonants such as /f/, /v/, /z/ (as in fonem, qur'an, xerox, zakat). The consonantal phonemes are transcribed with the letters p, b, t, d, k, g, c (pronounced /tʃ/), j /d͡ʒ/, h, ng (/ŋ/), ny /ɲ/, m, n, s /s/, w, l, r /r~ɾ/, and y /j/. Other consonants that originally appear in Indonesian loanwords are mostly transferred into native consonants: f → p, v → p, sy → s, sh → s, z → j, and kh /x/ → h.

Bilabial Alveolar Palatal Velar Glottal
Nasal m n ɲ ŋ
Plosive voiceless p t k
voiced b d ɡ
Affricate voiceless
Fricative s h
Lateral l
Trill r
Approximant w j

Ephentetic semivowels /w/ and /j/ are inserted after a high vowel immediately followed by another vowel, as in the words:

  • kueh - /kuwɛh/
  • muih - /muwih/
  • bear - /bejar/
  • miang - /mijaŋ/


Sundanese has an elaborate system of register distinguishing two basic levels of formality: kasar (low, informal) and lemes (high, formal).[7]

For many words, there are distinct kasar and lemes forms, e.g. arek (kasar) vs. bade (lemes) "want", maca (kasar) vs. maos (lemes) "read". In the lemes level, some words further distinguish humble and respectful forms, the former being used to refer to oneself, and the latter for the addressee and third persons, e.g. rorompok "(my own) house" vs. bumi "(your or someone else's) house" (the kasar form is imah).

Similar systems of speech levels are found in Javanese, Madurese, Balinese and Sasak.


Root wordEdit

Root verbEdit

English Sundanese
eat dahar tuang (for other)
neda (for myself)
drink inum leueut
write tulis serat
read maca maos
forget poho hilap
remember inget emut
sit diuk calik linggih
standing nangtung adeg
walk leumpang papah

Plural formEdit

Other Austronesian languages commonly use reduplication to create plural forms. However, Sundanese inserts the ar infix into the stem word. If the stem word starts with l, or contains r following the infix, the infix ar becomes al. Also, as with other Sundanese infixes (such as um), if the word starts with vowel, the infix becomes a prefix. Examples:

  1. Mangga A, tarahuna haneut keneh. "Please sir, the bean curds are still warm/hot." The plural form of tahu 'bean curd, tofu' is formed by infixing ar after the initial consonant.
  2. Barudak leutik lalumpatan. "Small children running around." Barudak "children" is formed from budak (child) with the ar infix; in lumpat (run) the ar infix becomes al because lumpat starts with l.
  3. Ieu kaen batik aralus sadayana. "All of these batik clothes are beautiful." Formed from alus (nice, beautiful, good) with the infix ar that becomes a prefix because alus starts with a vowel. It denotes the adjective "beautiful" for the plural subject/noun (batik clothes).
  4. Siswa sakola eta mah balageur. "The students of that school are well-behaved." Formed from bageur ("good-behaving, nice, polite, helpful") with the infix ar, which becomes al because of r in the root, to denote the adjective "well-behaved" for plural students.

However, it is reported that this use of al instead of ar (as illustrated in (4) above) does not to occur if the 'r' is in onset of a neighbouring syllable. For example, the plural form of the adjective curiga (suspicious) is caruriga and not *caluriga, because the 'r' in the root occurs at the start of the following syllable.[8]

The prefix can be reduplicated to denote very-, or the plural of groups. For example, "bararudak" denotes many, many children or many groups of children (budak is child in Sundanese). Another example, "balalageur" denotes plural adjective of "very well-behaved".

Active formEdit

Most active forms of Sundanese verbs are identical to the root, as with diuk "sit" or dahar "eat". Some others depend on the initial phoneme in the root:

  1. Initial /d/, /b/, /f/, /ɡ/, /h/, /j/, /l/, /r/, /w/, /z/ can be put after prefix nga like in ngadahar.
  2. Initial /i/, /e/, /u/, /a/, /o/ can be put after prefix ng like in nginum "drink".


Abdi henteu acan neda. "I have not eaten yet."

Buku abdi mah sanes nu ieu. "My book is not this one."


Dupi -(question)



  • Dupi Bapa aya di bumi? "Is your father at home?"
  • Dupi bumi di palih mana? "Where do you live?"


English Sundanese
what naon apa
who saha siapa
whose/whom nu saha kagungan saha punya siapa
where (di) mana (di) manten (di) mana
when iraha kapan
why naha kenapa
how kumaha bagaimana
how many sabaraha berapa

Passive formEdit

Buku dibantun ku abdi. "The book is brought by me." Dibantun is the passive form ngabantun "bring".

Pulpen ditambut ku abdi. "The pen is borrowed by me."

Soal ieu digawekeun ku abdi. "This problem is done by me."



teuas (hard), tiis (cool), hipu (soft), lada (hot/spicy, usually for foods), haneut (warm), etc.



Sundanese has three generic prepositions for spatial expressions:[9]

  • di: 'in', 'at' etc., indicating position
  • ka: 'to', indicating direction
  • ti: 'from', indicating origin

To express more specific spatial relations (like 'inside', 'under' etc.), these prepositions have be combined with locative nouns:[10]

Informal Formal Gloss
di jero di lebet inside
di luar di luar outside
di gigir di gigir beside
di luhur di luhur above
di handap di handap below
di tukang di pengker behind
di hareup di payun in front

Di gigir/luhur/handap/tukang/hareup (also ka gigir, ti gigir etc.) are absolute adverial expressions without a following noun. To express relative position, they have to add the suffix -eun, e.g.:

  • di luhureun lomari – 'on top of the cupboard'
  • ti tukangeun imah – 'from behind the house'

Di jero and di luar can be used both with and without a following noun.


English Sundanese
before saacan sateuacan
after sanggeus saparantos
during basa nalika
past baheula kapungkur


English Sundanese
from tina/ti tina
for jang, paragi kanggo/kangge
Languages spoken in Java.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Muamar, Aam (2016-08-08). "Mempertahankan Eksistensi Bahasa Sunda" [Maintaining the existence of Sundanese Language]. Pikiran Rakyat (in Indonesian). Archived from the original on 22 June 2019. Retrieved 2018-09-27.
  2. ^ Bauer, Laurie (2007). The Linguistics Student's Handbook. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  3. ^ Blust 2010.
  4. ^ Blust 2013.
  5. ^ Rosidi, Ajip (2010). Mengenang hidup orang lain: sejumlah obituari (in Indonesian). Kepustakaan Populer Gramedia. ISBN 9789799102225.
  6. ^ Müller-Gotama, Franz (2001). Sundanese. Languages of the World. Materials. 369. Munich: LINCOM Europa.
  7. ^ Anderson, E. A. (1997). "The use of speech levels in Sundanese". In Clark, M. (ed.). Papers in Southeast Asian Linguistics No. 16. Canberra: Paciic Linguistics. pp. 1–45. doi:10.15144/PL-A90.1.
  8. ^ Bennett, Wm G. (2015). The Phonology of Consonants: Harmony, Dissimilation, and Correspondence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 132.
  9. ^ Hardjadibrata (1985), p. 30.
  10. ^ Hardjadibrata (1985), p. 72–74.


Hardjadibrata, R.R. (1985). Sundanese: A Syntactical Analysis. Pacific Linguistics. Canberra: Australian National University. doi:10.15144/PL-D65.

Further readingEdit

  • Rigg, Jonathan (1862). A Dictionary of the Sunda Language of Java. Batavia: Lange & Co.
  • S. Coolsma (1985). Tata Bahasa Sunda. Jakarta: Djambatan.
  • Blust, Robert (2010). "The Greater North Borneo Hypothesis". Oceanic Linguistics. University of Hawai'i Press. 49 (1): 44–118. doi:10.1353/ol.0.0060. JSTOR 40783586. S2CID 145459318.
  • Blust, Robert (2013). The Austronesian languages. Asia-Pacific Linguistics 8 (revised ed.). Canberra: Asia-Pacific Linguistics, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University. hdl:1885/10191. ISBN 9781922185075.

External linksEdit