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D. Edi Subroto, Maryono Dwirahardjo, Budhi Setiawan[2]


Penelitian ini membuktikan temuan penelitian sementara sebelumnya dan beberapa kecurigaan masyarakat Jawa sebelumnya bahwa Generasi Muda Jawa (GMJ) sudah tidak mampu berbahasa Jawa ragam Krama dan Krama Inggil dengan benar dan tepat. Hal itu terbukti dari tes tertulis dan juga dari wawacara mendalam. Tes tertulis menunjukkan bahwa pemahaman GMJ terhadap pasangan kosa kata Ngoko, Krama, dan Krama Inggil sangat kurang. Demikian pula kemampuan GMJ untuk meng-gunakan ragam Krama dan Krama Inggil dengan benar dan tepat juga tergolong kurang. Beberapa faktor penyebab terjadinya keadaan itu juga ditemukan dalam penelitian ini.

Kata-kata kunci: ragam bahasa (speech levels), Ngoko, Krama,Krama

Inggil. posisi tinggi, posisi rendah, kematian bahasa,

terancam (endangered)


This article reveals findings in the first year of the three-year research (2007-2009), entitled “Model for Main-taining and Developing the Competen-ce of the Javanese Young Generation in Using Javanese Krama and Krama Inggil in Surakarta and its Surrounding Areas”, and funded by Hibah Pasca. The

first-year research aims at reconfir-ming the previous findings about the inability of the Javanese Young Gene-ration (JYG) in understanding Java-nese Ngoko words and their Krama/ Madya, and Krama Inggil correspon-dences, and also their inability in using the Javanese speech levels correctly and appropriately.

As has been generally known, Javanese is one of the biggest regional languages in Indonesia. It has a big number of native speakers, more or less 70 million, and has speech levels or unggah ungguh basa, namely, Ngoko (Ng), Krama (Kr) and Krama Inggil (Kr I). Ng is the lowest level and is used when addressing someone of the same status, of the same age or of lower status, such as close friends, younger persons, and subordinates. Kr is the middle level and is used when addres-sing a second person who is fairly respected, for example a new acquain-tance and respected younger persons. Kr I is the highest level and is used when addressing a second person or talking about a third person who is highly res-pected, such as teachers, parents, grand-fathers, grandmothers, ustadz, etc.

The main linguistic markers of the speech levels (Ng, Kr, and Kr I) are (1) Ng words and their Kr and Kr I correspondences (e.g. mangan, nedha, dhahar, ‘to eat’), (2) affixes marking Ng and Kr or Kr I (di-/dipun- ‘passive markers’, -e/-ne and –ipun/-nipun ‘possessive markers’), and (3) forms of address including honorific prefixes (kowe/ sampeyan/ panjenengan ‘you’), aku/ kula/ dalem ‘I’, dhe-weke/ piyambakipun /panjenenganipun ‘he/ she’. Those linguistic markers identify the Ng, Kr, and Kr I varieties. The term ‘language’ in this article refers to social varieties (sociolects). Thus, the English sentence ‘Have you had lunch/dinner ?’, can be expressed in three different varieties in Javanese, as follows:

1. Kowe apa wis mangan? (Ng variety)

2. Sampeyan napa pun nedha ?, and

(Kr variety)

3.Panjenengan punapa sampun dhahar?

( Kr I variety)

Javanese varieties, particularly the new Javanese, in contrast with Old and Middle Javanese, were widely known by Javanese grammarians. Ki Padmasoesastro (1899) classified Java-nese speech levels into :

1) basa ngoko,

2) basa krama,

3) basa madya,

4) basa krama ndesa,

5) basa krama inggil,

6) basa kedhaton, dan

7) basa kasar.

Those classifications were faith-fully followed by the later Javanese grammarians, such as Mas Ngabehi Dwidjasewaya, 1922; Antunsoehono, 1932; Poerwadarminto, 1953; and Prawiroatmodjo, 1955.

Basa madya is basically similar to Krama, and therefore, they belong to the same variety. Basa krama ndesa is a rural variety which is commonly used by villagers whose competence in krama is limited, for example:

Jeng teng pundi yu?” ‘Where are you going, (elder) sister?’. Basa Kedha-ton is only used in the palace circle by the king’s relatives and the court servants in the Karaton ‘palace’, and now it is rarely used. Basa Kasar (rough variety) is used to express anger. Javanese linguists nowadays simplify the classification into three speech levels, namely, Ngoko, Krama, and Krama Inggil (Poedjasoedarmo, 1979, Sudaryanto, 1989, Kaswanti Purwo, 1991). This article refers to this classification.

The first-year research was stimulated by the previous findings by Edi Subroto (1987), Sujono and Sisyono (1989), and Rustiati (2006). They all agree that the JYG’s knowledge of Javanese Ngoko words and their Krama and Krama Inggil correspondences is very poor, for example mangan, nedha, dhahar, ‘to eat’ and so is their compe-tence in using Javanese speech levels. The following data show their inability in using Javanese speech levels:

(1) Mbah kula aturi dhahar, kula kala wau sampun dhahar. ‘Grandpa, please have a meal, I have just eaten mine’

(2) Pak Dhe mangke dalu kula badhe tindak Jakarta. Rencana badhe nitih sepur. Badhe nyare wonten Hotel Borobudur. ‘Uncle, I am going to Jakarta this evening. I plan to go there by train. I will stay at Borobu- dur Hotel’

(3) Kala wau dalu kula ugi mirsani bal-balan kok Pak. ‘Last night I also watched the football match, sir’

The data show that actually the JYG know Javanese Ng words and their Kr and Kr I correspondences, but they are not able to use them correctly and appropriately when using Kr and Kr I speech levels to address older persons. They are not able to use Kr and Kr I words in accordance with the Javanese socio-cultural context.

Sentence (1) shows that the speaker (JYG) uses the word dhahar ‘eat’ to refer to himself. This is culturally forbidden and inappropriate. The same case occurs in sentence (2) and (3). The speaker was born and grown up in Sala, but he mistakenly used the high words (Kr I) for himself, such words are tindak ‘go’, nitih ‘go by’, nyare ‘stay the night’, and mriksani ‘ watch’ .

The first-year research aims at proving such conditions and identifying the factors causing those conditions. Thus, the problems are stated as follows:

(1) How is, qualitatively, the mastery level of JYG in understanding Javanese Ngoko, Krama, and Krama Inggil vocabulary?

(2) How is, qualitatively, their level of competence in using Javanese Ngoko, Krama, and Krama Inggil speech levels?

(3) What factors, both linguistic and non-linguistic, cause their incom petence in using Javanese speech levels, Ng, Kr, and Kr I, correctly and appropriately ?

Based on the above problems, the objectives of this research are as follows:

(1) To find out the mastery level of the JYG in understanding Javanese Ng, Kr, and Kr I vocabulary.

(2) To find out the level of competence of the JYG in using Javanese Ng, Kr, and Kr I speech levels.

(3) To find out factors causing diffi-culties faced by the JYG in using Javanese speech levels, if their level of competence in using Javanese speech levels is found to be poor.


1. Kind of Research, Population and Sample

This study uses a descriptive qualitative method. By using this method, thestudy is able to get rich nuances of meanings based on the linguistic and socio-cultural contexts. This type of study will also be able to catch empirical and factual truth exis-ting in the research’s object.

The population of the study is Javanese young generation (JYG) living in Surakarta and its surroundings. JYG in this study is defined as a group of young Javanese, between 13 to 35 years old, who live in the Javanese cultural areas, especially Surakarta and its surroundings, and who come from Javanese families (both of their parents are Javanese).

The sample of the study is JYG who live in Surakarta, Wonogiri and Sragen Regencies. The sampling of the areas chosen for the study is done purposively by considering that Sura-karta is the center of the Javanese language and culture, and Wonogiri ,the southern Javanese area, and Sragen, the eastern Javanese area, are not so far from Surakarta, around 30 to 40 km. From each research area, one high school will be chosen and, from each school chosen, one class will be taken as the sample of the study. Class XI is chosen as the sample of the study with the consideration that it is an inter-mediate class and that some of the high school students are also members of the Karang Taruna (Local Youth Organi-zation) in their regions.

2. Data and Technique of Collecting Data

The data of the study are (1) verbal/linguistic expressions, in the forms of words and utterances used to address second persons or to talk about third persons in the actual socio-cultural contexts occurring in the Javanese society, and (2) information in connec-tion with the capability of the JYG in understanding Javanese vocabulary and in using Javanese speech levels correc-tly and appropriately and the obstacles, both linguistic and socio-cultural, faced by the JYG in using the Javanese speech levels.

The techniques used in collecting the data are as follows:

a. Observing. Observation is done to get initial data and is focused par-ticularly on the use of Javanese varieties/speech levels (Ngoko, Krama, and Krama Inggil) in the daily life of the Javanese in the research areas.

b. Testing. Written test on the use of Javanese is given to the students in the three cities (Surakarta, Wonogiri, and Sragen) chosen as the sample. The written test consists of:

(1) Mastery of Javanese vocabulary (Ngoko words and their Krama and Krama Inggil correspon-dences and vice versa, for example mangan,nedha, dhahar.

The students are required to complete the Ngoko correspon-dence, the Krama correspon-dence or the Krama Inggil correspondence, which one is applicable, of the Javenese word given, for example:

(Ng …, Kr… Kr I sare ‘sleep’).

(2) Translation skill. The students are required to translate Indone-sian dialogues into correct and appropriate Javanese. Who the participants of the dialogues are, what their social status and age are, and the setting as well as the situation are all given.

(3) Speaking skill. The students are required to create correct and appropriate Javanese dialogues based on the participants, their social status/ age, and the setting and situation given.

c. Interviewing. Depth-interview is done to the Javanese elders and other social figures who are com-mitted to Javanese language and culture, Javanese language teachers, and representatives of the JYG in the research areas as a cross-check against research findings obtained from the written tests.

3. Data Analysis

Based on the type of the study, descriptive qualitative, data analysis can be started at the beginning of the data collection. Since the observation in the research areas, the data analysis has been done in the form of reflective notes and temporary findings. The data related to the oral use of Javanese can also be ana-lyzed immediately in the forms of reflective notes to answer the research problems.

Data obtained from written tests are analyzed using conceptual con-structs concerning the actual uses of Ngoko words and their Krama and Krama Inggil correspondences. Because each item of the test of the Javanese words and their correspondences has its own normative answer, the analysis of the data is done using scores ranging from 0 to 100. To find out the compe-tence of the respondents in under-standing and using Javanese language, the norms used are as follows: ( the raw scores are converted using the following categories):

a. 81 to 100 is very good,

b. 71 to 80 is good,

c. 61 to 70 is fair,

d. 51 to 60 is poor, and

e. 0 to 50 is very poor

The analysis of the data obtained from translating Indonesian dialogues into Javanese and from making Java-nese dialogues is done based on the accurateness and the norms possessed by the Javanese society in using their language.

The information obtained from the informants, the Javanese elders and Javanese figures, during the depth-interviews is used to cross-check the temporary findings in the field, while information obtained from the repre-sentatives of the JYG is used to find obstacles/problems faced by JYG in using Kr and Kr I speech levels correctly and appropriately.


Based on the results of the analy-sis, the study finds out the followings:

1. The average score of the test in Javanese vocabulary mastery is 36.45. Converting this score to the qualification norm used in this study, the competence of the JYG in mastering Ng, Kr, and Kr I vocabulary belongs to a very poorcategory.

2. The average score of the test in translating Indonesian dialogues to Javanese is 52.40. This score indicates that the competence of the JYG in using Javanese speech levels falls under poor category.

3. The average score of the test in making Javanese dialogues based on the given situations and contexts is 36.21. This result shows that the competence of the JYG in using Javanese speech levels also falls under very poor category.

4. The findings based on the written tests are exactly the same to the data collected through the depth-interview with the Javanese elders and figures who are committed to the Javanese language and culture. The Javanese language teachers and representatives of the JYG all stated that, generally, the JYG were not able to use Javanese speech levels correctly and appropriately. They generally are not able to understand well Ng words and their Kr and Kr I correspondences. They even stated that they did not have the courage to use Javanese Kr and Kr I speech levels because they felt incompetence in using the levels and were afraid of making mistakes. Therefore, they choose to use Indonesian when addressing someone older or having a high status.

5. Based on the data collected during the depth-interview, the study found factors causing this apprehensive situation, namely:

a. At home. There is no serious and continuous guidance by the parents on how to use Ng, Kr, and Kr I correctly and appropriately from early childhood.

b. In the social environment. There is no attention paid to the use of Ng, Kr, and Kr I in the social organi-zations, such as Dasa Wisma, Dharma Wanita, Rukun Tetangga, Rukun Wilayah, and Karang Taruna.

c. At schools. The learning activities at school are not sufficient and not satisfactory because the teachers teaching Javanese, in general, do not have enough competence in Javanese. The time allotted for Javanese is very limited, while the teaching materials are so many.

d. There is no Guide book in how to use the Javanese Ng, Kr, and Kr I levels for the society in general.


Based on the above findings, it can be stated that the Kr and Kr I levels are endangered varieties, particularly among the JYG. Endangered language or language variety is basically an oppressed variety. This is due to the position of Javanese, which is L (Low), in its rivalry with Indonesian, as a national and formal state language, which is H (High).

All activities connected to govern-ment, development, education, com-merce, laws, technology, nationally printed and electronic news are done in Indonesian. On the other hand, Java-nese, as a regional language, is used at home, among Javanese friends, and in expressing arts, tradition, and ritual and ceremonial events.

When there is no measure taken toward an endangered language, that lan-guage will surely die and becomes a death language (see Jansen, 2003). Campbell states ( in Jansen, 2003:14) :” … the loss of language is due to the gradual shift to the dominant language in language contact situation.” Thus, the Javanese Kr and Kr I varieties will soon be left behind and the Javanese society will tend to use Ng level only or Indonesian. Jansen states that language or variety in the process of dying is an endangered language or variety.

Wurm differentiates five stages of endangered language (see Jansen, 2003: ix). Stage I is potentially endangered, that is, when the young generation is attracted more to the dominant langu-age. Stage II is endangered, that is, when the youngest speakers of the language or of the language variety is young adults and there is no children speakers. Stage III is seriously endangered, that is, when the youngest speakers are 50 years of ages and more. Stage IV is terminally en-dangered, that is when there are only a few old speakers left who use the language or language variety. Stage V is the death stage, that is, when there is no speakers of the language or of the language variety.


Based on the above discussion, it can be said that the Kr and Kr I varieties of the Javanese are endangered varieties because the JYG tend to neglect those varieties and because they are not able to use them correctly and appropriately. In fact, to the Javanese society, the ability to use Kr and Kr I are closely related to Javanese manners, attitudes, and daily behaviors in their society. The phenome-non today is obvious that the JYG at present have lost their manners, good behavior, and Javanese attitudes and tended to become impolite and rough.


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[1] Hibah Pascasarjana Research is financed by Direktorat Jendral Pendidikan Tinggi, Departemen Pendidikan Nasional, based on Surat Perjanjian Pelaksanaan Penelitian Nomor: 035/SP2H/PP/DP2M/III/2007 dated March 29.2007.

[2] Lectures of the Post-graduate Program, UNS asisted by Sri Marmanto, H. Tarjana, Mas Sukardi, M.Suryadi (Post-graduade Students/S3); and Indah Kurnia Dewi, Rustiati (Graduate students/S2).