The Effect of Using Different Styles of Javanese Language to Children’s Behavior

22 Mei

Indonesia has various kinds of local dialects, one of them are Javanese. Javanese is the language of the people in the central and eastern parts of the island of Java. In addition, there are also some Javanese speakers in the northern coast of western Java. There are three styles of Javanese speech; these are Ngoko, Madya and Krama. Each style has different characteristics and uses in society.

Ngoko (low level of speech of Javanese) is informal speech and it is used between friends and close relatives. It is also used by persons of higher status to persons of lower status, such as elder to younger people or parents to children. Madya (Middle level of speech of Javanese) is the intermediary form between Ngoko and Krama. Someone would use Madya in an interaction between strangers on the street, where he/she wants to conduct the communication neither too formal nor too informal. Krama (Highest level of speech of Javanese) is the polite and formal style. It is used between persons of the same status who do not wish to be informal; usually it happened to close relatives. It is also used by persons of lower status to persons of higher status, such as youngster to elder people and children to their parents.

Nowadays, Krama is almost never be used by the children, neither to talk to their parents nor to talk to persons of higher status. Ariani, Dra. Christriyati, Dkk (2002:90) notes that at this resent many young generations do not respect their parents anymore. In conduct the communication, based on respondents’ observation, many young generations do not use Krama Javanese speech anymore and they tend to use Ngoko or Indonesia-Javanese (Indonesia-Ngoko). Even we often take notice of young people communicate to their parents using Ngoko. But there are still little families aware that Javanese is almost lost, – especially Krama – so that they wants to keep Krama by applying and practicing Krama to their children; they educate their children not to speak in Ngoko and tell that Ngoko is rude language so that children will still keep speaking Krama, even to their friends in same status.

According to the explanation above, the writer wants to analyze about the difference of the using of Children speech styles both Ngoko and Krama in all their activities in affecting their behavior. The writer also conduct the research which is held in Welahan, Watumalang, one of villages 11 km’s western from Wonosobo, Central Java.

Many people in Wonosobo use Javanese language in communicating each other. They use both Ngoko and Krama to conduct the communication. In past, the people used to Javanese language as the situation they got, but now, it is not anymore, especially for children. As posted in Pendidikan, Esai (2008) states that one day, in one of areas that most of kindergarten’s students in over there are using Javanese as their daily language both in their home and in their society, there was a routine extracurricular of drum band in every Saturday. It can be imagined how teachers can organize the students of kindergarten, and absolutely it needs extra patient of the teachers. Unfortunately, their way of guiding and giving instructions to the children is in Indonesia, meanwhile the children have limit of Indonesia’s word. As a consequence, the children talk, reply, or ask of something to their teacher by using Ngoko. From the description, it can be portrayed that knowledge of Javanese language of Javanese children is so anxious.

In Wonosobo, the percentages of the children who use Ngoko in their daily activities are more than the children use Krama in their daily life. In fact, it happened because they imitate their parents that mostly they use Ngoko in daily life, whether with their husband/wife, with people around them, and also with their children, so that the children just know that the language they use is Ngoko. According to William O’ Grady (2005:114) from the day they say their first word, children are amazingly good at finding ways to express themselves and at interpreting what adult say to them. It means that actually children’s language is just reflect what their parents use, not only in family but also in society.

For them, Krama is just used in school; in Javanese language lesson that they do not necessary to practice it in daily activities. Kompas (2006:25) reports that Geovani, student of second grade of State Senior High School 1 Semarang, said that Javanese is an uninteresting language. Alfian, Geovani’s friend, also said that he prefers to be taught of foreign language to Javanese language. For him, Javanese is not only unexciting language, but also difficult to be learnt and to be understood. Perhaps, Geovani and Alvian’s opinion of Javanese are not represent of all students’ view point in Central Java at the sight of Javanese Language. But, it is fact that many young generations are not proud to learn Javanese and it is also difficult to be understood.

According to Supadiyanto (2008), a student of Islamic communication and broadcasting study program, Dakwah Faculty of Sunan Kalijaga State Islamic University of Yogyakarta and a student of Mathematics Education State University of Yogyakarta, also a researcher of ICRC, it is difficult to find students of elementary school and junior high school who can speak Krama fluently to their teacher. It is also more difficult to find students of senior high school who can speak and explore Krama to communicate to elder people or people who has higher status. Actually Ngoko is just used in informal language and it is used between friends, and by elder to younger people such parents to children. But now, many children use Ngoko not only with their friends but also with their parents. It is actually breaking the rule of Javanese to the negative side. Indirectly, each of Javanese speech styles shows appreciate of the people according to their position in society. For example, children should use Krama to speak to their parents to show the respect. Meanwhile, the parents should speak use Ngoko to show that they have high status than children.

In other hand, the using of Krama by the children becomes less. They prefer to use Ngoko to Krama. In preventing the extinction of Krama speech style, some parents applied the language to their children entirely, even if they communicate to their friends. This also breaks down the rule of Javanese language that the children must speak with the right language that is Krama. But it is more to the positive side because they can respect the people in their society, even their friends.

Based on the research that the writer conduct, Ning (22) states that it does not matter for children use Ngoko in their daily life, and it does not impact the children’s behavior. For her, language does not affect so much to the children’s behavior. There are still many another causes in affecting manners like environment, friends, technology, and many others. Even though the children use Krama in their daily activities, it is possible for them getting bad manners if they have naughty friends; because friends are the mirror of who they are. Environment is also giving the effects to children’s behavior. Children are very good age to learn anything, and they will imitate anything what they see. In this case, though the children use Krama; if their environment is full of violence, the language does not play the role.

Suseno, Magnis (1991: 27) notes that in Javanese principle of life, they held on respectful and harmonious. All of these are the basic of Javanese people in conduct courtesy. Mulyono (50) also said that if we want to see children’s behavior, we can see on how they speak in their language. If they speak to other people by using Krama, people will impressive to them because people feel that the children respect of them. So, if in speaking they show any respectful, almost certainly that in manner, it is also good. On the contrary, if in communicating to other people they do not show their respectful, in this case they do not use Krama to speak to elder people, it is doubtful for the people to trust that they have good attitude for the reason that how come they will get good manners while they can not respect people by their using of speech. However, he said that Krama is more respectful than Ngoko and it can be concluded that children who use Krama is better in behavior than children who use Ngoko.

Dewi (19) suggest that children who use Krama, usually they have good achievement in school. But it does not give the effects in behavior. In her opinion, children are same whether they speak in Krama or Ngoko. Actually they are still children and it is harder for them, even they use Krama, to control their manner like adolescent or adult people. Children still like playing with other friends and they still do something that it is just for fun, so that sometimes they do stupid thing to their friends without thinking the consequence in future.

The using of different style of Javanese language for children in affecting children’s behavior gets some reaction for the people. There are some people said that using different styles of Javanese language for children does not give any effects. For them, it does not have any different whether they use Krama or Ngoko. There are other causes in affecting children’s behavior like environment, friends, and technology.

In other side, some people agree that the difference of using Javanese speech style gives effects to children’s behavior. Children who use Krama would be more respectful to people because they always say anything with a respectful way. They assume that if they want to see children’s manner, it can be seen from how they speak. If in speaking they have good manner, so do in attitude.


  • Ariani, Dra.Christriyani, Dkk. 2002. Tata Krama Suku Bangsa Jawa di Kabupaten Sleman Propinsi DIY. Yogyakarta: Balai Pengembangan Kebudayaan dan Pariwisata Balai Kajian Sejarah dan Nilai Tradisional Yogyakarta Proyek Pemanfaatan Kebudayaan Daerah Daerah Istimewa Yogyakarta.
  • O’ Grady, William. 2005. How Children learn language. :Cambridge University Press.

By: Giri Widodo S.B.

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Ditulis oleh pada Mei 22, 2010 in Karyaku


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