Cover image for Javanese English dictionary
Javanese English dictionary
Robson, S. O. (Stuart O.), 1941-
Publication Information:
[Hong Kong] : Periplus ; North Clarendon, VT : Distributed by Tuttle Pub., [2002]

Physical Description:
821 pages ; 24 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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PL5166 .R63 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Reference

On Order



This is the most complete and and up-to-date Javanese-English dictionary available.

Javanese is the second most widely used language of the Indonesian archipelago, being spoken by some one hundred million people. It also has a rich literary tradition, comprising not only written texts but also forms of theatrical performance--notably the wayang (shadow puppetry), which preserves complex Hindu narratives from the pre-Islamic period. Twentieth-century Javanese writers have used the forms of the novel, free verse and short story to develop a contemporary literature for its vivid expression and realism. The Javanese-English Dictionary is the only reference source to provide a complete listing, with clear English translations and explanations, of all current terms used in modern Javanese. It covers the whole vocabulary needed both for everyday communication and in order to read published materials, and is a resource long needed by language scholars, students of Javanese history and society and visitors with an interest in the traditional culture of Java. With more than 25,000 headwords, it also includes local forms likely to be encountered in travel, specialist terms associated with the traditional arts of the area and obsolete words still to be found in literature.

The dictionary also contains clear explanations of Javanese culture, folklore and religious practices. Users will gain an insight into traditional Javanese cuisine, costume, crafts and the performing arts, and will be able to identify local flora and fauna. It also offers full coverage of idiomatic phrases such as, kalah cacak menang cacak , "Try to do something by trial and error," and proverbial expressions such as, nututi barang wis tiba , "To shut the stable door after the horse has bolted."

A significant feature of the Javanese language is the existence of distinct language levels, whereby many common words have variants that must be used in situations of social distance, and full cross-reference are given between the terms appropriate to each level. Javanese also has an interesting system of word construction, whereby a range of forms can be derived from one base word; these are listed together under one heading to give a clearer picture of the meanings, and cross-references are used whenever the base form is not really apparent. Highlights of Javanese-English Dictionary are: Completely new and up-to date Contains more than 25,000 heard words with clear definitions. Extensive examples of usage. Information on Javanese culture and history. Unique Javanese idioms and expressions. Special treatment of the unique elements Javanese grammar and syntax.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This dictionary aims to be an accurate listing of words and phrases used in current modern Javanese with clear English translations and explanations. The authors draw heavily on the scholarship of earlier lexicographers and their dictionaries, acknowledging them in the introduction. They intend to update the only previous work of modern Javanese to English, Elinor M.C. Horne's Javanese-English Dictionary (1974). The dictionary includes terms likely to be encountered in travel, specialist terms associated with traditional arts (especially shadow puppetry and dance), obsolete terms still found in literature, and idiomatic and proverbial expressions. Entries are generally brief and consist at least of a headword in boldface and brief definitions. Longer entries may contain usage indicators (parenthetically), variant forms (also in boldface), and cross-references. Some entries show homonyms. No pronunciation guide is given. The authors assume that readers will have an extensive knowledge of Indonesian and have therefore omitted loanwords. In addition, users are referred to other sources for full descriptions of plants (citing "legundhi" as "a certain shrub," for example). Despite these shortcomings, this work represents an advance in Javanese lexicography and is recommended to libraries that support Austronesian language study. R. Hanson Muskingum College