Rejang is a member of the Bornean branch of the Malayo-Polynesian language family. It is spoken by the Rejang people mainly in Bengkulu and South Sumatra provinces in Sumatra in Indonesia. In Bengkulu Province it is spoken in the regencies of Central Bengkulu, Kepahiang, Lebong, North Bengkulu and Rejang Lebong. In South Sumatra Province it is spoken in North Musi Rawas Regency. There are also Rejang speakers in neighbouring provinces, and in Jakarta.
According to the 2010 census, there are about 1.1 million speakers of Rejang, which is also known as Djang, Jang or Redjang. There are five major dialects of Rejang: Lebong, Musi, Kebanagung, Pesisir and Rawas. They differ in vocabulary and pronunciation, and are mostly mutually intelligible.
Rejang contains many loanwords from neighboring Malayic languages, and continues to borrow many new words from various languages, especially Indonesian and English. Some Arabic and Sanskrit words have been incorporated into Rejang through Malayic languages, and are now treated as native words. Rejang is not closely related to any other languages in Sumatra.
Rejang was first written with a script known as Aksaro Riking ("lines by the knife") or Kaganga (from the first three letters). It is not known when this script was first used, but the earlist known document in Rejang in this script dates from the mid-18th century.
The Rejang script is classified as belonging to a group of scripts known as Surat Ulu ("upstream scripts"), which includes the Bengkulu, Lembak, Lintang, Lebong, and Serawai scripts. It is widely believed to be evolved from Indic scripts used in Srivijaya Kingdom, a city-state based on Sumatra from 650-1377 AD.
Literacy in Rejang declined after colonisation of Sumatra by the British and Dutch from the earliy 17th century. Since the 1960s Rejang has been written with a version of the Latin alphabet, and appears in some newspapers and online. However, there is currently no standard way of writing Rejang.
Kutê tun laher mêrdeka, tmuan hok-hok dê srai. Kutê nagiak-ba akêa peker ngen atêi, kêrno o kêlok-nê bêkuat-ba do ngen luyên lêm asai sêpasuak.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another
in a spirit of brotherhood.
(Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights)
Bahwa sesungguhnya kemerdekaan itu ialah hak segala bangsa, dan oleh sebab itu maka penjajahan diatas dunia harus dihapuskan. Karena tidak sesuai dengan perikemanusiaan dan perikeadilan.
Whereas independence is a genuine right of all nations and any form of alien occupation should thus be erased from the earth as not in conformity with humanity and justice.
(1st paragraph of the preamble of 1945 Constitution of the Republic of Indonesia).
Information and corrections provided by T. R. Carlton of the University of Alberta, Michael Peter Füstumum, Fikri Anurudha and Ridwan Maulana.
Information about the Rejang alphabet, language and people
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