Sundanese Language & Culture

Map of West Java, Indonesia

Background: Tanah Pasundan (Sundanese Homeland)

Tanah Pasundan covers the area from Bogor to Cirebon to the Northeastern Coast, close to the border of West Java and Central Java, and to Tasikmalaya to the Southeast (see map). The area is mostly mountainous and is blessed with fertile soil resulting from volcanic explosions thousands of years ago, making it very rich in minerals. Coffee and tea plantations, vegetable farms are abundant, especially in the area of Lembang. Rice fields occupy most of the area around Cianjur, Garut, and Sumedang. High rainfall also makes this area much cooler than the rest of West Java. Some towns are surrounded by still active volcanoes. Bandung and the highlands surrounding the city are also called Bumi Parahyangan. As in most similar topographical areas, waterfalls and hot springs can be found in many places.

The Sundanese people are known as very friendly and soft-spoken. The dialect itself is divided into several levels, where younger people have to use certain terms when speaking to or referring to an older person. Sudanese language is purportedly spoken by about 35 million persons.

Some Scenes from West Java

On the road to Sukabumi, with Gunung Gede (Large Mountain) in the background; and a scene from Puncak, with tea plantation visible on the hillside.

The following are from Bogor Botanical Gardens

These photos are from a new mosque in Puncak, and from the "Green Valley"

Here are few additional photos from Borobudur Temple, Central Java and the City of Solo (Surakarta), just for variety.

Basic Sundanese Language

--Still under construction--

Sudanese language consists of several levels of usage, and is still considered important, especially in everyday speech. These levels of usage are employed in accordance with the situation, in order to show mutual respect.

1. Informal Language
Informal language, literally "rough, coarse," is used between people who are close, such as close friends and playmates. Even though speaking to someone who is younger or of a lower social rank, Sundanese people are reluctant to use this type of language with those they are truly close with, not to mention a new acquantaince.

2. "Self-Respecting" Language
This usage is also know as "Middle" usage. This type of usage is employed to speak respectfully for: speaking in the first person or if speaking about a third person. The latter usage just mentioned applies for: a) a third person who is younger or of lower social rank of the speaker, or b) if the third person is of the same age or of higher social rank and position if compared to the speaker.

3. "Other-Respecting" Language
This usage is also know as "fine" language, used for speaking respectfully to others (in the second person) or for a third person who is talked about when a) together with the one he is speaking to, or b) the speaker is older or his social position is higher than the speaker and the one who is spoken with, or together with the one who is spoken.

4. Rough Language
This language is also known as "very rough" language, and is used when angry in order to insult others. This usage is outside of the concept of social etiquette and manners, except when taking about animals.

Opening Chapter of the Qur'an (Al-Fatihah)*


  1. Kalayan asma-Na Allah, Nu Maha Mirah, Nu Maha Asih.
  2. Sadaya puji kagungan Allah, Pangeran nu murbeng alam sadaya.
  3. Nu Maha Mirah, Nu Maha Asih.
  4. Nu kagungan dinten mawales.
  5. Mung ka Gusti abdi sadaya ibadah, sareng mung ka Gusti abdi sadaya neda pitulung.
  6. Mugi Gusti maparin pituduh ka abdi sadaya kana jalan anu lempeng.
  7. (Nyaeta) jalan jalmi-jalmi anu parantos dipaparin ni'mat ku Gusti, sanes jalan jalmi-jalmi anu kenging bebendon ti Gusti, sareng sanes jalan jalmi-jalmi anu salasar.
*Taken from Al-Amin Al-Qur'an (Tarjamah Sunda), by: KH Qamaruddin Shaleh, H.A.A. Dahlan, and Yusrusamsi. Published by: Penerbit Diponogoro, Bandung, Indonesia, 1993.

Basic Greetings

Wilujeng Sumping (Welcome)
Wilujeng Enjing (Good Morning)
Wilujeng Angkat (Have a nice trip)
Punten (excuse me)

Some Funny-Sounding Words

geuleuh** (gross, disgusting)
geugeumeueun** (fear of repeating a bad experience)
ririwit**, tiktikbrek** (sickly)
nyeri beuteung (stomachache)
balaga (snobbish)

**Taken from a Sundanese Synonym-Antyonym Dictionary

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This page updated Febrary 28, 2000