Sundanese

Updated 19 September, 2021

This page gathers basic information about the Sundanese script and its use for the Sundanese language. It aims (generally) to provide an overview of the orthography and typographic features, and (specifically) to advise how to write Sundanese using Unicode.

Phonetic transcriptions on this page should be treated as an approximate guide, only. Many are more phonemic than phonetic, and there may be variations depending on the source of the transcription.

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Sample (Sundanese)

Select part of this sample text to show a list of characters, with links to more details.
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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

Since 1996 the Sundanese script has been the official orthography for the 27 million Sundanese speakers on the island of Java, although the Latin script is also used. It is currently taught in schools and used for public signage.

ᮃᮊ᮪ᮞᮛ ᮞᮥᮔ᮪ᮓ ạkˣsr sunˣd aksara sunda Sundanese alphabet

The modern orthography is derived from the Old Sundanese orthography (Aksara Sunda Kuno) which was used by the Sundanese between the 14th and 18th centuries. It, in turn, derived from the Pallava script.

Source: Scriptsource, Wikipedia.

Basic 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 for the modern Sundanese orthography.

Sundanese text runs left to right in horizontal lines.

Words are separated by spaces.

The 18 native consonant letters are supplemented by 7 more used for non-native sounds, such as those from Arabic.

The inherent vowel is a, and other vowels are represented by 6 vowel-signs (including 1 prescript). All vowel-signs are combining marks, and are stored after the base character. There are no composite vowels.

Independent vowels are used for standalone vowel sounds,

Syllable-initial clusters use 3 dedicated combining marks for the second consonant.

Syllable-final consonant sounds are also represented by 3 dedicated combining marks. When a vowel-sign and final consonant are both attached to the same base, they are arranged side by side.

Other consonant clusters are indicated by a visible mark called pamaaeh. There are no stacked consonants or other conjuncts in modern Sundanese, however they were used in the Old Sundanese orthography.

Sundanese has a set of native digits, but uses ASCII punctutation.

Character index

Letters

Show

Basic consonants

ᮕ␣ᮘ␣ᮒ␣ᮓ␣ᮊ␣ᮌ␣ᮎ␣ᮏ␣ᮞ␣ᮠ␣ᮙ␣ᮔ␣ᮑ␣ᮍ␣ᮝ␣ᮛ␣ᮜ␣ᮚ

Extended consonants

ᮟ␣ᮋ␣ᮖ␣ᮗ␣ᮐ␣ᮯ␣ᮮ

Vowels

ᮄ␣ᮅ␣ᮆ␣ᮇ␣ᮈ␣ᮉ␣ᮃ

Not used for modern Sundanese

ᮺ␣ᮻ␣ᮼ␣ᮽ␣ᮾ␣ᮿ

Combining marks

Show

Vowels

ᮦ␣ᮤ␣ᮥ␣ᮧ␣ᮨ␣ᮩ

Medials

ᮢ␣ᮣ␣ᮡ

Finals

ᮀ␣ᮁ␣ᮂ

Other

Not used for modern Sundanese

᮫␣ᮬ␣ᮭ

Numbers

Show
᮰␣᮱␣᮲␣᮳␣᮴␣᮵␣᮶␣᮷␣᮸␣᮹

Punctuation

Show
(␣)␣,␣.␣:␣;␣?␣!␣|

Not used for modern Sundanese

᳀␣᳁␣᳂␣᳃␣᳄␣᳅␣᳆␣᳇
Character lists show:

Phonology

These are sounds for the Sundanese language.

Click on the sounds to reveal locations in this document where they are mentioned.

Phones in a lighter colour are non-native or allophones. Source Wikipedia.

Vowel sounds

i u ɤ ɤ ə ə ɛ ɔ a

Consonant sounds

labial dental alveolar post-
alveolar
palatal velar uvular glottal
stop p b t d       k ɡ q  
affricate       t͡ʃ d͡ʒ   k͡s    
fricative f v   s z     x   h
nasal m   n   ɲ ŋ  
approximant w   l   j    
trill/flap     r    

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.

Vowels

Inherent vowel

a following a consonant is not written, but is seen as an inherent part of the consonant letter, so ka is written by simply using the consonant letter [U+1B8A SUNDANESE LETTER KA].

Vowel-signs

Non-inherent vowel sounds that follow a consonant can be represented using vowel-signs, eg. kiː is written ᮊᮤ [U+1B8A SUNDANESE LETTER KA + U+1BA4 SUNDANESE VOWEL SIGN PANGHULU].

Sundanese uses the following vowel-signs.

ᮤ␣ᮥ␣ᮧ␣ᮦ␣ᮨ␣ᮩ

Sundanese vowel-signs are all combining characters, and a single character is used per base consonant. All vowel-signs are stored after the base consonant, and the font puts them in the correct place for display.

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

Prescript vowel-sign

One vowel-sign appears to the left of the base consonant letter or cluster.

This is a combining mark that is always stored after the base consonant. The font places the glyph before the base consonant.

ᮛᮦᮌᮀ
Prescript vowel-sign panaelaeng.

Vowel absence

In modern Sundanese writing suppressed inherent vowels are indicated by either

For example, ᮃᮌᮢᮤᮊᮥᮜ᮪ᮒᮥᮁ contains all three (see fig_vowel_absence).

ᮃᮌᮢᮤᮊᮥᮜ᮪ᮒᮥᮁ
Left to right, the highlights show a medial diacritic, a pamaaeh, and a final consonant diacritic.

At the end of a word, [U+1BAA SUNDANESE SIGN PAMAAEH] is used, eg. see ᮄᮊᮣᮤᮙ᮪ in fig_final_pamaaeh.

ᮄᮊᮣᮤᮙ᮪
Pamaaeh in word-final position.

Standalone vowels

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

ᮄ␣ᮅ␣ᮆ␣ᮇ␣ᮈ␣ᮉ␣ᮃ

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

Consonants

Basic consonants

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

Stops

ᮕ␣ᮘ␣ᮒ␣ᮓ␣ᮊ␣ᮌ

Affricates

ᮎ␣ᮏ

Fricatives

ᮞ␣ᮠ

Nasals

ᮙ␣ᮔ␣ᮑ␣ᮍ

Liquids

ᮝ␣ᮛ␣ᮜ␣ᮚ

Repertoire extension

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

ᮟ␣ᮋ␣ᮖ␣ᮗ␣ᮐ␣ᮯ␣ᮮ

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.

Old Sundanese

Historical Sundanese 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​].

ᮬ␣ᮭ

Medial consonants

ᮢ␣ᮣ␣ᮡ

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

Word-final consonants

ᮀ␣ᮁ␣ᮂ

The three syllable-final consonant sounds are also represented using dedicated combining marks, eg. ᮙᮀᮌᮥ ᮕᮞᮤᮁ ᮃᮘᮂ-ᮃᮘᮂ

Other letters

[U+1BBA SUNDANESE AVAGRAHA] is an archaic letter used for writing Sanskrit.

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

ᮻ␣ᮼ␣ᮽ␣ᮾ␣ᮿ

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.

Observation: 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 direction

Sundanese runs left to right in horizontal lines.

Show default bidi_class properties for characters in the Sundanese orthography described here.

Glyph shaping & positioning

This section brings together information about the following topics: writing styles; cursive text; context-based shaping; context-based positioning; baselines, line height, etc.; font styles; case & other character transforms.

You can experiment with examples using the Sundanese character app.

The orthography has no case distinction, and no special transforms are needed to convert between characters.

Context-based shaping

Sundanese text is not cursive.

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

Context-based positioning

When two diacritics appear in the same position relative to the base character they are positioned side by side, as shown in fig_multiple_diacritics.

ᮊᮤᮀ   ᮊᮣᮥ   ᮊᮧᮂ
Multiple combining marks alongside the same base character sit side by side.

Observation: 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 also needed to produce conjunct forms.

Font styles

tbd

Punctuation & inline features

Grapheme boundaries

tbd

Word boundaries

Words are separated by spaces.

Phrase & section boundaries

phrase

, [U+002C COMMA]

; [U+003B SEMICOLON]

: [U+003A COLON]

sentence

. [U+002E FULL STOP]

? [U+003F QUESTION MARK]

! [U+0021 EXCLAMATION MARK]

Modern Sundanese typically uses ASCII punctuation for sentence and phrase punctuation.

Old Sundanese

The punctuation described here is used for Old Sundanese texts, and is not used for modern Sundanese.

phrase

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.

sentence

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

Religious texts in Old Sundanese contain ᳆᳀᳆ and ᳆᳁ markers, which include additional code points [U+1CC6 SUNDANESE PUNCTUATION BINDU DA SATANGA], and [U+1CC1 SUNDANESE PUNCTUATION BINDU PANGLONG].

Historical texts in Old Sundanese contain ᳅᳂᳅ markers, with the additional code point [U+1CC5 SUNDANESE PUNCTUATION BINDU KA SATANGA].

Other similar code points include [U+1CC4 SUNDANESE PUNCTUATION BINDU LEU SATANGA] and [U+1CC7 SUNDANESE PUNCTUATION BINDU BA SATANGA].

Parentheses & brackets

  start end
standard

( [U+0028 LEFT PARENTHESIS]

) [U+0029 RIGHT PARENTHESIS]

Quotations

Modern Sundanese text uses ASCII quotation marks.

Emphasis

tbd

Abbreviation, ellipsis & repetition

tbd

Inline notes & annotations

tbd

Other inline ranges

tbd

Other punctuation

tbd

Line & paragraph layout

Line breaking

tbd

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

Show (default) line-breaking properties for characters in the modern Sundanese orthography.

Hyphenation/word-breaking

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

Text alignment & justification

tbd

Letter spacing

tbd

Counters, lists, etc.

tbd

Styling initials

tbd

Page & book layout

This section is for any features that are specific to Sundanese and that relate to the following topics: general page layout & progression; grids & tables; notes, footnotes, etc; forms & user interaction; page numbering, running headers, etc.

Languages using the Sundanese script

According to ScriptSource, the Sundanese script is used for the following languages:

References