Sundanese script summary

Updated 20 April, 2019 • tags scriptnotes, sundanese

This page provides basic information about the Sundanese script, and it's use for the Sundanese language. It is not authoritative, peer-reviewed information – these are just notes I have gathered or copied from various places as i learned. For character-specific details follow the links to the Sundanese character notes.

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. Colours and annotations on panels listing characters are relevant to their use for the Sundanese language.

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...

Distinctive 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.

In yellow boxes, show:

Structure

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 horizontally and left to right.

Vowels

Inherent vowel

Consonants carry an inherent vowel a. So is pronounced ka.

Vowel absence

In modern Sundanese writing suppressed inherent vowels are indicated by either

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

Vowel-signs

To produce a different vowel than the inherent one, Sundanese attaches vowel signs to the preceding consonant, eg. ᮊᮤ ki.

Characters that produce vowel signs are all combining characters, and a single character is used per base consonant.

All vowel-signs are typed and stored after the base consonant, whether or not they precede it when displayed. The font takes care of the glyph positioning.

ᮤ␣ᮥ␣ᮦ␣ᮧ␣ᮨ␣ᮩ

Two of the vowel-signs are spacing marks, meaning that they consume horizontal space when added to a base consonant.

ᮛᮦᮌᮀ

Left-aligned vowel sign panaelaeng.

Vowel-sign placement

The following list shows where vowel-signs are positioned around a base consonant to produce vowels, and how many instances of that pattern there are.

Standalone vowels

Standalone vowels are not preceded by a consonant, and may appear at the beginning or in the middle of a word.

Sundanese represents standalone vowels using a set of independent vowel letters, eg. ᮅᮃᮕ᮪ uap steam. The set includes a character to represent the inherent vowel sound.

ᮃ␣ᮄ␣ᮅ␣ᮆ␣ᮇ␣ᮈ␣ᮉ

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

Consonants

Basic consonants

The Sundanese block has 18 consonant letters for indigenous sounds in modern Sundanese writing.

ᮊ␣ᮌ␣ᮍ␣ᮎ␣ᮏ␣ᮑ␣ᮒ␣ᮓ␣ᮔ␣ᮕ␣ᮘ␣ᮙ␣ᮚ␣ᮛ␣ᮜ␣ᮝ␣ᮞ␣ᮠ

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

Repertoire extension

An extended set of consonants is used to represent non-native sounds, eg. Arabic.

ᮋ␣ᮐ␣ᮖ␣ᮗ␣ᮟ␣ᮮ␣ᮯ

Medial consonants

ᮡ␣ᮢ␣ᮣ

The three trailing consonants that can appear in syllable-initial pairs are written using dedicated combining marks, eg. ᮄᮊᮣᮤᮙ᮪ iklim climate and , eg. ᮃᮌᮢᮤᮊᮥᮜ᮪ᮒᮥᮁ agrikultur agriculture.

Word-final consonants

ᮀ␣ᮁ␣ᮂ

The three syllable-final consonant sounds are also represented using dedicated combining marks, eg. ᮙᮀᮌᮥ manggu mangosteen, ᮕᮞᮤᮁ pasir hill, ᮃᮘᮂ-ᮃᮘᮂ abah-abah goods.

Consonant clusters

Syllable-initial clusters

Syllable-initial consonant clusters allow 3 sounds after the initial consonant, j, r, or l. These are all represented using dedicated combining marks (see medials).

Other 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: os

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​].

ᮬ␣ᮭ

Other letters

There is one other character in the Sundanese block that has the general property of letter. [U+1BBA SUNDANESE AVAGRAHA] is an archaic letter used for Sanskrit.

For reproduction of Old Sundanese writing there are 5 additional characters:

ᮻ␣ᮼ␣ᮽ␣ᮾ␣ᮿ

Combining marks

Most of the combining marks in the Unicode Sundanese block are used for vowel-signs, and medial or final consonants.

[U+1BAA SUNDANESE SIGN PAMAAEH] is used to cancel the inherent vowel in consonant clusters or at the end of a word (see absence).

The remaining combining marks are used to represent consonant clusters in Old Sundanese writing (see other_clusters). U+1BAB SUNDANESE SIGN VIRAMAis used to create conjunct forms in Old Sundanese writing, and the other two are for representing subjoined forms.

᮫␣ᮬ␣ᮭ

Punctuation

Modern Sundanese typically uses ASCII punctuation.

All of the following punctuation marks and symbols are archaic and no longer used, and are in the Sundanese Supplement block. Click on them and follow the links or see phrase for more information.

᳀␣᳁␣᳂␣᳃␣᳄␣᳅␣᳆␣᳇

Numbers

Digits

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

᮰␣᮱␣᮲␣᮳␣᮴␣᮵␣᮶␣᮷␣᮸␣᮹

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|.

Glyph shaping & positioning

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.

Structural boundaries & markers

Word boundaries

The concept of 'word' is difficult to define in any language (see What is a word?). Here, a word is a vaguely-defined, but recognisable semantic unit that is typically smaller than a phrase and may comprise one or more syllables.

Words are separated by spaces.

Phrase boundaries

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 & paragraph layout

Line breaking

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

Hyphenation

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

Text alignment & 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. [ u ] The Unicode Standard v10.0, Sundanese, pp661-664.
  2. [ w ] Wikipedia, Sundanese alphabet.
  3. [ e ] Michael Everson, Proposal for encoding the Sundanese script in the UCS.
  4. [ os ] Michael Everson, Proposal for encoding additional Sundanese characters for Old Sundanese in the UCS
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