Sundanese script summary

Updated 13 January, 2018 • tags scriptnotes, sundanese

This page provides basic information about the Sundanese script. It is not authoritative, peer-reviewed information – these are just notes I have gathered or copied from various places as i learned. For similar information related to other scripts, see the Script comparison table.

Clicking on red text examples, or highlighting part of the sample text shows a list of characters, with links to more details. Click on the vertical blue bar (bottom right) to change font settings for the sample text.

Sample (Sundanese)

ᮞᮊᮥᮙ᮪ᮔ ᮏᮜ᮪ᮙ ᮌᮥᮘᮢᮌ᮪ ᮊ ᮃᮜᮙ᮪ ᮓᮥᮑ ᮒᮨᮂᮞᮤᮖᮒ᮪ᮔ ᮙᮨᮛ᮪ᮓᮤᮊ ᮏᮩᮀ ᮘᮧᮌ ᮙᮛ᮪ᮒᮘᮒ᮪ ᮊᮒᮥᮒ᮪ ᮠᮊ᮪-ᮠᮊ᮪ ᮃᮔᮥ ᮞᮛᮥᮃ. ᮙᮛᮔᮨᮂᮔ ᮓᮤᮘᮨᮛᮨ ᮃᮊᮜ᮪ ᮏᮩᮀ ᮠᮒᮨ ᮔᮥᮛᮔᮤ, ᮎᮙ᮪ᮕᮥᮁ-ᮌᮅᮜ᮪ ᮏᮩᮀ ᮞᮞᮙᮔ ᮃᮚ ᮓᮤᮔ ᮞᮥᮙᮔᮨᮒ᮪ ᮓᮥᮓᮥᮜᮥᮛᮔ᮪.

Usage & history

From Scriptsource:

The Sundanese script is used to write the Sundanese language, spoken by about 27 million people on the Indonesian island of Java. Today, the language is generally written in either the Sundanese or the Latin script, but has historically also been written using other scripts. As of 1996, the Sundanese script has been the official script for the language; it is currently taught in schools and used for public signage.

From Wikipedia:

Sundanese script (Aksara Sunda, ᮃᮊ᮪ᮞᮛ ᮞᮥᮔ᮪ᮓ) is a writing system which is used by the Sundanese people. It is built based on Old Sundanese script (Aksara Sunda Kuno) which was used by the ancient Sundanese between the 14th and 18th centuries.

... the existence and function of Sundanese Script in the social and cultural life of West Javanese people in modern life is supported by the West Javanese Governor's Decision...

Key features

Sundanese is an abugida, ie. consonants carry an inherent vowel sound that is overridden, where needed, using vowel signs. See the table to the right for a brief overview of features, taken from the Script Comparison Table.

Character lists

The Sundanese script characters in Unicode 10.0 are in the following blocks:

The following links give information about characters used for languages associated with this script. The numbers in parentheses are for non-ASCII characters.

For character-specific details see Sundanese character notes.

Consonants

list all
ka
qa
ga
nga
ca
ja
za
nya
ta
da
na
pa
fa
va
ba
ma
ya
ra
la
wa
sa
xa
ha

The Sundanese block has 23 consonant letters for use with modern Sundanese writing, plus 2 that are used to represent Arabic sounds (ᮮ ᮯ).

There are also 6 combining characters used for syllable medial and final consonants (see below).

For reproduction of Old Sundanese writing there are 6 additional characters:

list all
ᮿ

Consonant clusters

In modern Sundanese the absence of a vowel sound between two consonants is shown using a visible vowel killer  ᮪ [U+1BAA SUNDANESE SIGN PAMAAEH​]. This produces no special conjunct forms.

ᮃᮊ᮪ᮞᮛ

The word aksara, showing pamaaeh vowel killer.

Historical Sundanese, however, does have conjunct forms. They can be produced using the invisible U+1BAB SUNDANESE SIGN VIRAMA​. The following shows known conjuncts:4

Historically, Sundanese also had special forms for subjoined -m and -w. These can be represented using    ᮭ [U+1BAD SUNDANESE CONSONANT SIGN PASANGAN WA​] and    ᮬ [U+1BAC SUNDANESE CONSONANT SIGN PASANGAN MA​].

Medial consonants

Three combining characters represent medial consonants, ᮡ ᮢ ᮣ.

These indicate that the syllable begins with a consonant pair, eg. ᮄᮊᮣᮤᮙ᮪ iklim climate and , eg. ᮃᮌᮢᮤᮊᮥᮜ᮪ᮒᮥᮁ agrikultur agriculture.

Word-final diacritics

Three syllable-final consonant sounds are represented using the combining characters ᮀ ᮁ ᮂ, eg. ᮙᮀᮌᮥ manggu mangosteen, ᮕᮞᮤᮁ pasir hill, ᮃᮘᮂ-ᮃᮘᮂ abah-abah goods.

Vowels

There are two sets of vowels: independent letters and combining vowel signs.

Independent vowels

There are 7 independent vowel letters:

list all
a
i
u
é
o
e
eu

These are used for syllables that begin with a vowel, eg. ᮅᮃᮕ᮪ uap steam.

Independent vowels can carry syllable-final consonants, eg. ᮃᮀᮊᮥᮒᮔ᮪ angkutan transport.

dependent vowel signs

Since the inherent vowel doesn't need to be represented, the Sundanese block has 6 combining characters used as vowel-signs.

list all
-ᮤi
-ᮥu
-ᮦé
-ᮧo
-ᮨe
-ᮩeu

The glyph for  ᮦ [U+1BA6 SUNDANESE VOWEL SIGN PANAELAENG​] is displayed to the left of the base character, eg. régang stick:

ᮛᮦᮌᮀ

Left-aligned vowel sign panaelaeng.

Vowel absence

As described in the consonant section above, in modern Sundanese writing suppressed inherent vowels are indicated by either (a) using  ᮪ [U+1BAA SUNDANESE SIGN PAMAAEH​] (b) using a medial consonant diacritic, or (c) using a word-final consonant diacritic. For example, agrikultur agriculture contains all three:

ᮌᮢᮤᮊᮥᮜ᮪ᮒᮥᮁ

At the end of a word,  ᮪ [U+1BAA SUNDANESE SIGN PAMAAEH​] is used, eg. iklim climate.

ᮄᮊᮣᮤᮙ᮪

Context-based rendering

shaping

Glyph shaping is required for subjoined consonants in Old Sundanese, but doesn't appear to be needed for modern Sundanese orthography.

Glyph positioning

When two diacritics appear in the same position relative to the base character they are positioned side by side, eg. ᮊᮤᮀ, ᮊᮣᮥ or ᮊᮧᮂ. (Everson says that the same applies for ᮊᮢᮥ, but the fonts I've tried all render that combination vertically.)

For Old Sundanese orthography, positioning rules are needed to produce conjunct forms.

Numbers

Digits

Sundanese uses native digits, which are decimal-based and used in the same way as European numerals.

list all
0
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9

To help distinguish the digits from other characters | [U+007C VERTICAL LINE] is used around numbers.

|᮲᮰᮱᮷|

Vertical bars are used to distinguish numbers.

Unlike other punctuation, the vertical lines don't appear to be slanted to the right, and in the Noto Sans font this produces an effect that looks like the vertical line is ligated with some of the digits, eg. |᮷|.

Text layout

An orthographic syllable in modern Sundanese can be described as one of

C {y,r,l} {vs} {ng,r,h}
Cp
V {ng,r,h}

where C is a consonant and V is an independent vowel, y,r,l represents a medial combining character, vs a vowel-sign, ng,r,h a syllable-final combining character, and p a vowel-killer.

Text direction

Sundanese script is written in horizontally stacked lines. Characters run left to right inside a line.

Text delimiters

Words are separated by spaces.

For separators at the sentence level and below, modern Sundanese typically uses ASCII punctuation. The other punctuation described here is used for Old Sundanese texts.

comma

, [U+002C COMMA]

In Old Sundanese, if [U+1CC0 SUNDANESE PUNCTUATION BINDU SURYA] is used as a full stop, [U+1CC2 SUNDANESE PUNCTUATION BINDU PURNAMA] is used as a comma.

Otherwise [U+1CC3 SUNDANESE PUNCTUATION BINDU CAKRA] may be used as a comma in older texts.

semi-colon ; [U+003B SEMICOLON]
colon : [U+003A COLON] 
sentence

. [U+002E FULL STOP] 

[U+1CC0 SUNDANESE PUNCTUATION BINDU SURYA] may be used in Old Sundanese texts.

parenthesis

( [U+0028 LEFT PARENTHESIS]

) [U+0029 RIGHT PARENTHESIS]
question ? [U+003F QUESTION MARK] 
exclamation ! [U+0021 EXCLAMATION MARK] 

Religious texts in Old Sundanese contain ᳆᳀᳆ and ᳆᳁ markers.

Historical texts in Old Sundanese contain ᳅᳂᳅ markers.

Quotations

Modern Sundanese text uses ASCII quotation marks.

Line breaking

No information about whether lines break after syllables or space-separated words.

According to Everson, hyphenation can occur after any full orthographic syllable, but there are no details about how that works.

Justification

No information.

Use the control below to see how your browser justifies the text sample here.

ᮞᮊᮥᮙ᮪ᮔ ᮏᮜ᮪ᮙ ᮌᮥᮘᮢᮌ᮪ ᮊ ᮃᮜᮙ᮪ ᮓᮥᮑ ᮒᮨᮂᮞᮤᮖᮒ᮪ᮔ ᮙᮨᮛ᮪ᮓᮤᮊ ᮏᮩᮀ ᮘᮧᮌ ᮙᮛ᮪ᮒᮘᮒ᮪ ᮊᮒᮥᮒ᮪ ᮠᮊ᮪-ᮠᮊ᮪ ᮃᮔᮥ ᮞᮛᮥᮃ. ᮙᮛᮔᮨᮂᮔ ᮓᮤᮘᮨᮛᮨ ᮃᮊᮜ᮪ ᮏᮩᮀ ᮠᮒᮨ ᮔᮥᮛᮔᮤ, ᮎᮙ᮪ᮕᮥᮁ-ᮌᮅᮜ᮪ ᮏᮩᮀ ᮞᮞᮙᮔ ᮃᮚ ᮓᮤᮔ ᮞᮥᮙᮔᮨᮒ᮪ ᮓᮥᮓᮥᮜᮥᮛᮔ᮪.

References

  1. [Unicode] The Unicode Standard v10.0, Sundanese, pp661-664.
  2. Wikipedia, Sundanese alphabet.
  3. [Everson] Michael Everson, Proposal for encoding the Sundanese script in the UCS.
  4. Michael Everson, Proposal for encoding additional Sundanese characters for Old Sundanese in the UCS
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