Archive for the ‘pragmatik’ Category

The Use of Informing Speech Act as Advertising Strategy in Malang Kuliner Facebook Group

Laila Sarah

Study Program of Linguistics

Faculty of Culture Studies

Universitas Brawijaya




Facebook is one of social media ranked as the fifth most accessed website in Indonesia. There is a way of using Facebook as a marketing means which is creating groups designed exclusively for selling products. This article discusses advertisement taken from Malang culinary group in Facebook called ‘Malang Kuliner’. The researcher focuses on the direct informing speech act (in other words, ‘pure’ informing) found in the study. Although there are indirect speech acts found in the data, the researcher does not address them. The research design of this study uses a case study. It is a document analysis employing qualitative approach. The result shows that the direct speech act of informing is the most used by the popular vendors in ‘Malang Kuliner’ (43.7% from 293 utterances). According to this study, a successful advertisement is not always about telling people to buy the product or making promises related to the product. In some cases, giving ‘pure’ information can actually be the most preferable strategy chosen by the advertisers to achieve their marketing goal in online advertisement.

Key words: Facebook, speech act, advertising

  1. Introduction

This article discusses the use of informing speech act as a part of strategies in advertising employed by the vendors in Malang Kuliner, which is a Facebook culinary group. Accordingly, Facebook is a part of new media which Socha and Eber-Schmid (2009) identified it as a term used in the 21st century to define all that is related to the internet and the interplay between technology, images and sound. There are internet mass media that have been massively used by people of all age around the globe, such as Facebook, Whatssap, Twitter, Skype, online newspapers, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and many more. Nevertheless, this article concerns only with Facebook, which entered Indonesian internet in around 2008 and was ranked as the fifth most accessed website in the country. The Facebook fever has made Indonesia as the fastest growing country on Facebook in Southeast Asia (Gunawan, 2010). Related to this article, there is a way of using Facebook as a marketing means which is creating groups designed exclusively for selling products. By using this feature, the user will not fill unfamiliar users or friends’ timeline with his advertisement. If people want to buy or take a look at the product, they can ask the user to be permitted and join the group. By joining the group, they will be able to see and check each of the products or give comments and buy the desired item later.

As an example of a Facebook group designed to help its users to sell their products is the Malang Kuliner (which is also the group being studied in this article). This group is one of the most popular closed groups in Malang culinary advertisement. It has more than one hundred thousand users and is still growing. A lot of Malang culinary vendors have been successfully growing their business owing to this particular group. A lot of advertisers utilize this social media to promote their products. Related to this marketing function, Vilanilam and Varghis (2004) defines an advertisement as an organized method of communicating information about a product or service which a company or individual wants to sell to the people. When the Internet emerged, numerous search options became available.

Because of this, advertisement texts have gone through so many changes and challenges over time. As Goddard (1998) stated, an advert appears to be the factor of conscious intention behind the text, with the aim of benefiting the originator materially or through some other less tangible gain, such as enhancement of status or image. The growing competition makes companies use their brain to win the battle. The point of creating a good advertisement is to convince the audience that their product will benefit them and that the competitor’s does not have this quality. For the past few years, there have been a number of studies in linguistics that relate their topic to advertisement, particularly speech acts used in advertisement texts.

In regards to speech act theory, Searle (1976) suggested taxonomy of illocutionary acts namely representative (asserting, informing), directive (commanding, requesting), commissive (offering, promising), expressive (thanking, apologizing), and declaration (firing an employee, declaring a war). Nevertheless, this article’s main concern is on informing, which is included in representative category. Even though there might be indirect speech acts found in the data, the researcher only focuses on and discuss the direct speech act of informing (without addressing the indirect speech act of informing that actually indicates other speech act, or we should say ‘pure’ informing).

As defined by (2015), informative advertisement works on informing the customers related to the products, provide the pricelist or any product information. It should be able to create awareness related to the product and the company as well. The point is there should be adequate information to motivate the customers to take an action; in this case, purchasing the product. Although there are many persuasive or even directive types of advertisement employed by advertisers, there are also those that have proved informative advertising to be quite effective.

Accordingly, based on the speech act theory, informing is included in the representative category (the purpose of this speech act is to commit the speaker to something’s being the case, to the truth of the expressed proposition); it is a speech act conveying information. Generally, informing means giving information or supplying knowledge (about something) to another party. Thus, this article discusses only the ‘pure’ informing speech act shown in the advertisement texts of ‘Malang Kuliner’.


  1. Research Method

The research design of this study uses a case study. It is a document analysis employing qualitative approach. This study examines various selected culinary advertisements from a Facebook group called ‘Malang Kuliner’. This group is chosen since it is one of the most popular Facebook groups related to culinary review and marketing in Malang. Moreover, ‘Malang Kuliner’ is also considered as the most active Facebook culinary group in Malang. The participants in this study are the selected vendors who are actively posted their advertisement every Saturday or Sunday (because these are the day when these popular vendors usually post their advertisements and these are the only days that allow vendors to promote their products), and are considered to be popular among the members of the group. The popularity is rated by the number of comments and ‘like’ in the vendor’s page or advertisement posts. The selected vendors are: Pizzaholic, Kedai Sumochi, Bara-bara Eat&Grill, Lutuna, Muji Prol Tape and Gemuse Hydrofarm.

Moreover, the researcher decided to take the advertisements from August (2015) because it was the last month when vendors were still allowed to creatively post their advertisements in the group. Starting from September, the administrators of the group have activated a new rule which does not allow vendors to write or post their usual styles of advertising (they have made a new format of advertising that does not allow creative writing and every vendor must obey this new rule).

There are two types of data of this research. The first data are the utterances in the chosen advertisement texts. This data is obtained from downloading (screen capturing) the Facebook page containing the advertisement. Not all parts of the advertisement are used in this study; the researcher only uses the advertisement text without considering the picture attached to the advertisement. The second data is interview response. This data is used to support the finding obtained from Facebook screen captures. The interview questions are asked to each culinary vendor in this research and to some potential customers who are chosen based on the level of activity and regularity in posting or purchasing a product from ‘Malang Kuliner’.

The methods employed to analyze the data of this research are classifying the utterances obtained from note-taking the screenshot page, then determining the generic structure of each collected advertisement. After that, the researcher identified speech acts found in the utterances and analyzed them. Lastly, the researcher investigated the relation between the most used speech act and its advertising function.


  • Result

Based on the analysis, table 1 shows the distribution of speech acts found in the advertisement:

Table 1. The Distribution of Speech Act in Ads

Speech Act Frequency of Occurrence Percentage
Direct Speech act


–  Informing

–  Asserting


–  Telling (commanding)

–  Requesting

–  Questioning


–  Offering

–  Promising


–  Thanking

–  Apologizing


Indirect Speech Act


–       in Representative form

–       in Commissive form


–       in Directive form











































TOTAL 293 100%


According to this finding, the direct speech act of informing is the most used by the popular vendors in ‘Malang Kuliner’ group (43.7% from 293 utterances). Since ‘Malang Kuliner’ is a culinary group in social media, it is possible for new comers or users to be added as members in this group. Therefore, the number of members will never be fixed as it keeps adding each day. There might not be new vendors every day, but there are always be new potential customers. Thus, it entirely makes sense if the vendors choose to write ‘informative’ style of advertisements. They might be popular to regular customers or old members in the group, but not to the new ones who are also new potential customers. On this basis, the vendors put as much information as possible in regards to their products; they always introduce the name and price of the products, the specialties, and how to get information or even purchase the product. For five consecutive weeks (in August 2015), the researcher found this pattern almost in all advertisements studied in this research.

Accordingly, informing means giving information or certain knowledge to an addressee, believing that the person does not have a clue of what is being informed and that he/she needs to be informed. Thus, after delivering the information, the addressor assumes that addressee would have to believe that what has been informed is true. From 293 utterances counted in this study, the researcher found 28 utterances bearing the speech act of informing. Datum (3) will illustrate this finding (the utterances are taken only from the bodycopy of the advertisement):

Datum (3) (PH,12) (in Bahasa Indonesia)

Line Utterances
1 yeaayy udah sabtu.. mau nongki cantiik ehh duit THRan abis.. mau ngedate.. boro boro
2 punya pacar, ttm ajah gak punya cyinn.. ya udah di rumah aja ditemenin pizzaholic gratis
3 tiss tiss. Minggu ini ada yg special.. 1 pemenang yg berlokasi di malang kota akan
4 dapat free ongkir malang kota dari kurir andalan Antaraja.. horeee!! Per 1 agustus
5 ini Pizzaholic sudah 6 bulan melayani pecinta kuliner malang jadi minggu ini
6 hadiahnya juga special deh.. sebutin 1 menu pizzaholic yang kamu pingin cobain
7 dan menu itu akan jadi milik kamu kalau kamu menang. Yeeaayyy.. seperti biasa ada:
8 1 pemenang beruntung di grup FB malang Kuliner (s&k) dan 1 pemenang
9 beruntung di fanpage pizzaholic delivery (s&k). Syaratnya juga dipenuhi yaa:
10 1. Sebutin menu pizzaholicfavoritmu 2. Like fanpage kita pizzahollic delivery
11 3.Like fanpage Antaraja malang (kalau mau dapet free ongkir malang kota pas menang
12 nanti) 4.Klik foro pizzaholic di bawah ini, lalu klik tombol ‘share” atau “bagikan” di
13 kanan bawah. QUIZ berakhir pada hari MINGGU 2 AGUSTUS pk 22.00.
14 Pengumuman pemenang di komen bawah dan di fanpage pizzaholic delivery ya.
15 Follow us: IG dan Line @pizzaholic malang.FBpage: Pizzaholic delivery. Call/sms/Line
16 087859702778.Pin BB 554FAE41.Delivery station: jl. Simpang dewandaru B 6
17 Malang.Order: 24 jam/7 hari. Jadwalkirim: senin-minggu pk 10-16. Sabtu pk 10-
18 18.Area kirim: malangkota all area,malang kabupaten (batu, karanglo,
19 karangploso, singosari, lawang, pakis, tumpang,bululawang, gondanglegi,
20 turen, kepanjen, sengkaling).


Datum (3) (PH,12) (in English)

Line Utterances
1 yeaayy it’s Saturday already.. you wish to hangout but no THR money left.. you wish to
2 have a date.. you don’t even have a ‘very close and romantic’ boy/girl friend. That’s
3 okay, just stay at home and be with a totally free pizzaholic.. There is something special
4 this week, one winner from malang kota will get free delivery cost in malang kota
5 sponsored by the mainstay courier service Antaraja.. horaayy!! Per 1st of August,
6 Pizzaholic has been serving Malang culinary lovers for 6 months, so this week the
7 prize will also definitely be special.. mention 1 pizzaholic menu that you want to try and it
8 will be yours if you win. Yeeaay.. as usual, there will be: 1 lucky winner in FB group
9 of malang Kuliner (terms&conditions apply) and 1 lucky winner in pizzaholic
10 delivery fanpage (terms&conditions apply). Please fulfill the following conditions:
11 1. Mention your favorite pizzaholic 2. Like our pizzahollic delivery fanpage 3. Like
12 Antaraja malang fanpage (if you want free delivery fee in malang kota when you win)
13 4. Click pizzaholic photo below, then click ‘share’ or ‘bagikan’ in bottom right. QUIZ
14 Ends at SUNDAY 2nd AUGUST 10 p.m. the winner announcement is in the bottom
15 comment and in pizzaholic delivery fanpage. Follow us: IG and Line @pizzaholic
16 malang. FBpage: Pizzaholic delivery. Call/sms/Line 087859702778. Pin BB
17 554FAE41. Delivery station: jl. Simpang dewandaru B 6Malang. Order: 24 hours/7
18 days. Delivery schedule: Monday-sunday at 10 a.m-16 p.m. Saturday at a.m-6 p.m.
19 Delivery area: malang kota all area, malang kabupaten (batu, karanglo,
20 karangploso, sengkaling).singosari, lawang, pakis, tumpang, bululawang,
21 gondanglegi, turen, kepanjen,



In datum (3), we can see some utterances showing the speech act of informing. In line 4-5, the vendor informs that in August 1st Pizzaholic has been serving the customers for 6 months (‘Per 1 agustus ini Pizzaholic sudah 6 bulan melayani pecinta kuliner malang’). The next information can be seen in line 7-9 which informs the potential customers about how many winners in the quiz (one winner in Facebook group of ‘Malang Kuliner’ and one winner in Pizzaholic fanspage).We can also find information in line 13-14 in regards to the time limit of the quiz (it is closed on Sunday, August 22nd at 10 p.m). The last information found in the advertisement is in line 16-20, which informs the potential customers about Pizzaholic delivery station (jl. Dewandaru), delivery schedule (Monday to Sunday at 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.), as well as the delivery area range (malang in town for all areas, malang kabupaten, batu, karanglo, karangploso, singosari, lawang, pakis, tumpang, bululawang, gondanglegi, turen, kepanjen, sengkaling).

The researcher found that this type of speech act can be seen in each advertisement. As stated previously, vendors bear in their mind that there will always be new members and new potential customers need to be informed. Regular customers might know the products very well and even keep the contact number, but not with the new potential customers who are completely unaware of the vendor and the products.

The researcher asked several questions to both vendors and customers related to this finding. The interview revealed that most of the vendors chose informing as their advertising strategy. The reason behind this was because they considered information as the most essential part in their advertisements. They did not choose to directly tell the potential customers to buy their product. The vendors were aware that there would be many new members in the group every week. This means that they could have new potential customers. This is why information becomes very important; the new potential customers needed adequate information about the products they are selling. If they merely sell or ask the new potential customers to buy the products without providing good information, they would not gain these people’s attention and thus, would fail to achieve their advertising goal. In the interview, they mentioned that informing is one of the best strategies in advertising their product: the better information they can provide, the more potential customers they can persuade.

Respectively, the researcher also asked similar questions to some customers. Their responses were mostly as expected by the vendors: they put more attention to advertisements provided with good and adequate information than those which merely tell them to buy the product. According to these customers, if the vendors already provided adequate information regarding the product, they would not need to ask a lot of questions to the vendors. In their perspective, the vendors that could provide good and adequate information were considered reliable and trustworthy. In customers’ view, this factor is very important in buying online products because they cannot see the ‘real’ shop and that is why they need to rely on the information provided by the vendors in the posting. If they just read ‘buy this product or this food’ without reliable information in the advertisement, they would probably just skip the posting and scroll down to look for other advertisements with more information.

From both finding and interview, it can be deduced that most of the popular vendors used informing as one of their strategies in writing advertisements. By displaying adequate information, the vendors can provide what the potential customers need to know about the products. Even without blatantly state ‘buy my product, not theirs’, the popular vendors can still draw the potential customers’ attention and can successfully persuade them to buy, eventually. Respectively, some potential customers interviewed by the researcher also gave similar responses to the vendors. They were not so interested in the advertisements that mostly ‘order’ them to buy the products without providing good and adequate information. The potential customers need to be assured that the product they are going to buy has clear and trustworthy specifications. Without adequate and good information, these potential customers will avoid purchasing the product due to the uncertainty.

So, it can be said that there is an apparent relation between the choices of speech act in the advertisements to the marketing function. In this study, popular vendors have proved that informative speech act is actually very effective in marketing strategies when it comes to advertisements placed in Facebook group page, unlike some other online advertisements that might use mostly commissive or directive speech act in their writing.

  1. Conclusion

Related to the speech acts found in this study, the previous chapter shows that informing (direct representative) is the most used speech act in the advertisements (43.7% from 293 utterances). The vendors chose this speech act based on the consideration that they need to provide information for new members of ‘Malang Kuliner’ group. Telling the potential customers to buy their product directly is not preferable because they think it will not be reliable and desirable enough.

Moreover, a successful advertisement is not always about telling people to buy the product (being directive) or making promises related to the product. In some cases, giving ‘pure’ information can actually be the most preferable strategy chosen by the advertisers to achieve their marketing goal in online advertisement.


  1. References

Boundless. (2015). Informative, Persuasive, and Reminder Advertising. Retrieved




Goddard, Angela. (1998). The Language of Advertising. Routledge: London and

New York.

Gunawan. (2010). Fenomena Facebook DiIndonesia.Retrieved from: 13/08/2015.

Hydrofarm, Gemuse. (2015). #promo produk. Retrieved from:

Onny, Sam. (2015). #promo produk. Retrieved from:

Pizzaholic. (2015). #promo produk. Retrieved from:

Pongsama, Gilang. (2015). #promo produk. Retrieved from:

Searle, John. R., (1976). A Classification of Illocutionary Acts. Language in

Society, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Apr., 1976), pp. 1-23.

Socha, Bailey and Eber-Schmid, Barbara.(2009). What is New Media?: Defining

NewMedia Isn’t Easy. Retrieved from: 13/08/2015.

Sumochi, Kedai. (2015). #promo produk. Retrieved from:

Tape, Muji Prol. (2015). #promo produk. Retrieved from:

Vilanilam, J.V. and Varghese, A.K. (2004).Advertising Basics!: A Resource

            Guide for Beginners. Response Books: New Delhi.


by Bastiko Pradana, Master Candidate in Applied Linguistic, University of Brawijaya, Malang Indonesia


As people progress in life, they invariably come into contact with other people. Because people have different characteristics and are brought up in different ways, it would be hard to expect that they would communicate in the same way. This situation presents an issue which concerns how people say what they say in regard to other participants in the communication. This issue is at the center of intercultural communication, which is involved when there are multiple ways and perceptions of communication present. Recognizing these ways and perceptions is the key to make intercultural communication successful.

“Culture” itself is hard to define. One way of approaching the concept is through delineating certain features that culture may have. Hofstede (1997) described a cultural model which includes certain forms (manifestations) and attributes (dimensions). This model stems from the observation that culture is programmed so that people can differentiate one another. From this, culture is manifested as a ring of practices – which can be divided into rituals (activities), heroes (people), and symbols (articles) – that surround a core of values, which regards the perception of people. Within this framework issues do arise, and that is represented by the dimensions of culture, which covers power distance (the level of authority), collectivism versus individualism (how individuals and groups relate), femininity versus masculinity (gender implications), and uncertainty avoidance (dealing with conflict or emotions). However, this model was developed as part of a research done within the environment of a multinational computing company, and as such the model carries an implication of a bias.

A different way of interpreting culture and one that is more apt for describing intercultural communication is described by Scollon, Scollon, and Jones (2012). Instead of forms and attributes which are essentially “objects” that label culture, they describe culture as “actions” that allow culture to be “done”. The body of objects that are used to do this is called “cultural tools”, and when it is used for communication, it is called a “discourse system”. Language is a part of discourse systems, but because it is ambiguous, participants in communication have to make inferences based on what they know – their discourse systems. Successful intercultural communication relies on how aware participants are of the differences between the discourse systems of their own and others.

One place where intercultural communication can occur is on the Internet, and in particular on online forums. Using a forum, members can discuss topics related to a subject and receive feedback from other members; discussions are often moderated so that they do not become heated arguments. One of these forums is, a discussion forum specifically created for fans of the computer game Myst to discuss developments in this series as well as anything related to it. The members of the forum come from different parts of the world, though many are located in the United States or Europe. As a result, this forum has the potential to harbor intercultural communication. This paper would like to discuss the possibility of this happening in one of the discussion threads, entitled “What’s The Difference Between Guys T-Shirts And Girls T-Shirts?”

Literature Review

Scollon, Scollon, and Jones (2012) outline a discourse system as having four components. One of them is ideology, which covers the underlying ideals of the discourse system. Another component is socialization, and this includes how members of that discourse system achieve the eligibility to be considered part of the system. There is also the component of forms of discourse, which deals with the ways of communication available in the discourse system. Finally, the component of face systems concerns the relationships between members of the discourse system. In contrast to Hofstede’s ring model, the four components of a discourse system can be represented as a pie, with each component having equal status.

Within each component, there are also sub-components that further describe the component. In ideology, the question of whether the discourse system is voluntary (purposive or by choice) or involuntary (natural, no choice) is considered. History and views about the world are also considered, as are beliefs, values, and religion; in the latter three, they regard basic principles such as what is considered “good” and how are people and society supposed to be. In addition, ideology is also considered regarding the placement and relationship with other discourse systems. Thus within the component of ideology, perceptions and values are underscored.

The component of socialization covers the legitimacy of participation that a member would have in a discourse system. One of the sub-components of this component is education, enculturation, and acculturation; this is a determiner of whether certain practices in the discourse system are formally, informally, or forced to be learned. Whether learning is informal or formal is also determined by primary or secondary socialization, respectively. Members can further be evaluated by how far the participation of the member is in the discourse system (expert and novice participation). Within a discourse system, theories of the person and learning, including the consideration of the nature of good or evil, individuals and the collective, and the life cycle or age divisions of people, are also part of socialization. This component is therefore a representation of how well a member participates in a discourse system.

Forms of discourse of a discourse system collectively represent the ways communication is generally accepted in a discourse system. A major part of this component is the concept of the grammar of context, which itself is made up of seven elements: scene, key, participants, message form, sequence, co-occurrence patterns, and manifestations; these seven elements describe properties of the context. Other parts of this component include rhetorical strategies, functions of language, and production formats, which deal with the role and relationship of discourse. Modes of communication, media, and emplacement are the last part of this component, all of which cover the realization of discourse by the members of the discourse system. Overall, forms of discourse shows how communication works within a discourse system.

The last component of a discourse system is the face system. This component describes how members are supposed to be interrelated. Face systems may take the forms of deference, solidarity, and hierarchy, depending on power, distance, and weight of imposition; depending on appeal to positive and negative face aspects, it may be either involvement or independence, respectively. Face systems also involve social organization, reflected in the sub-components of kinship (familial relationships), the concept of the self (what elements make up an individual), and ingroup-outgroup relationships (how others consider individuals belong). The face system within a discourse system accordingly characterizes the links that individuals may have in and out of a discourse system.


The discussion thread being examined is located in a forum section called “The Blah Place”. This area is reserved for discussion topics that do not directly pertain to the main subject matter of the forum, which in this case is the game series Myst; most online forums have such an area reserved for that purpose. In this thread, there are 17 postings made by 11 members. Five of the members state that they come from the United States, while there are four members that state that they come from Germany, New Zealand, the Netherlands, and England, and two members whose location are not stated. In terms of gender, two members state that they are female; the rest state that they are male while one does not disclose this information. Most of the members state birth dates in the 1980s, except for three members who state birth dates in 1961, 1978, and 1991. Additionally, the researcher is a member of the forum, but did not participate in the discussion.

Grammar of Context

The grammar of context here represents that of the situational discourse system, which is the forum of Beginning with the scene, the setting is the virtual space of an online forum situated on the Internet; though the actual discussion is conducted over a period of several days, the discussion remains available in that virtual space. The topic being discussed is the difference between t-shirts for men and t-shirts for women. The purpose of the discussion is to see if there is any difference between the two kinds of shirts. The discussion itself started out with a few questions and answers, but later postings shifted to a more commentary form.

The key of the discourse system is represented by the tone and mood of the discussion; in this discussion, the tone is informal and the mood is rather lighthearted. This is indicated primarily by the use of emoticons as well as the presence of jocular statements in some of the posts (posts 3, 8, and 13). In regard to participants, in this discussion, any member was allowed to participate, including members of the moderation and administration team; although the role of the moderation and administration team (in part) is to keep the discussion from becoming out of hand, they can still participate in discussions, and in fact, two administrations posted within this discussion. However, their capacity in this discussion was purely contributive and they acted as ordinary members.

As this discussion was conducted over the Internet using web pages, the message form is purely written. Further, as each participant is clearly tagged on each post, the attribution of each post is quite clear. As for the sequencing in the discourse system, the thread follows a set schedule in that each new post is appended to the end of the thread, but members could openly contribute to the discussion, and there is always room for the discussion to grow and extend.

An online forum such as this is expected to generate discussions. However, in this particular discussion, jocular statements are present in several of the posts, one of which in particular (post 13) directly jests about the t-shirt in question, and does not relate directly to the discussion. Thus, these jocular statements constitute marked co-occurrence patterns, unexpected for the discussion. The existence of these co-occurrence patterns also creates tacit manifestations that should be considered, in addition to the rest of the discussion which is mostly explicit, with some exceptions being the comments in posts 16 and 17 which have to be inferred. This and all the other features above make the grammar of context of the situational discourse system significant to the understanding of the intercultural means of the discussion.

Situational Discourse System

Other important characteristics lie in the situational discourse system. The discourse system itself is purposive or voluntary, as it is up to individuals whether they want to be members and participate, or not. The history of the forum itself goes back to 2001, when it was opened to facilitate another place where fans of the computer game Myst to discuss what is happening with the game series. Any fan that is willing to talk and contribute to the forum is welcome to join with the forum. While there are many other similar discussion forums, this forum does not preclude its members from joining others, nor does it preclude those that are already in others to join the forum. This is generally the case for many online forums.

Aside from technical requirements governing new members (Capella 2011) there is nothing that hinders the identity of a member, though the member is expected to abide by the rules, which provides some enculturation. There is no primary or secondary socialization, and the forum does not consider anyone to be an expert above others, except those in administration or moderation positions. Any member is only expected to “…be an active, valuable member, with interesting, insightful threads and replies.” From this statement it can also be seen that it is better to contribute well than not (considering good and evil) and to participate (considering the individual and the collective). As for life cycle, though by technicality there is a point when a member is considered a “veteran” and there is a titular rank system which is decorative, it is only expected that each member contribute as equals.

In addition to the grammar of context, there are other elements included within forms of discourse. In this informal space, any form of cohesion and rhetoric is applicable for discussion so long as they are within the rules, but regarding cohesion, there is an extra element that enhances the aspect: the quote tag, which is standard for an online forum and allows references to be clearly indicated. As far as other elements go, here language functions to inform and ratify relationships, not so much to create and negotiate them, and individualism is more evident; due to the members being clearly tagged on each post (and when the quote tag is used) animator, author, and principal are often one and the same, except in cases where they are dubiously vague or clearly differentiated. Due to the use of virtual space, all mode of communication is disembodied and verbal and non-verbal may overlap when images are used. The forum is located on the Internet and thus utilizes it as well as computers as the media. Finally, as this forum is accessible from anywhere with an Internet connection, the potential for emplacement is high, and even the “general discussion” forum can be thought of as an emplacement in a forum that regards a specific subject such as this one.

Because of the preferred participation, the face system in this discourse system prefers a solidarity relationship, and the face strategy demands involvement. A hierarchy system and an independence strategy may be involved only when dealing with the administration and moderation in their capacities as such. Kinship is not expected to be present, unless it happens that relatives of a member also join as members. Regarding the concept of the self, as a result of the preferred participation, members of the discourse system are aware of some of the things that have been done in the past and try to make explicit how it should be regarded as a group in the rules; in doing so they are trying to weaken the collectivist ingroup aspect of the relationship in favor of a more individualist outgroup appearance.

Background Discourse System

Considering the above descriptions, it appears that the discourse system of the discussion forum mirrors portions of the Utilitarian discourse system, a point well-described by Scollon, Scollon, and Jones (2012). Per the Utilitarian ideology, technology can be used to advance individual freedom, increase happiness, and express creativity, in this case through discussions. The ingroup aspect of a discussion forum illustrates the liberty, equality, and fraternity aspect and how it reflects an asymmetrical and hierarchical face system to those in the outgroup. The form of discourse in the form of posts is considered equal for all and has to be acceptable to the forum. Even though there is no “education”, there is still some form of “socialization” in the form of listed rules. Despite only representing a part of the Utilitarian discourse system, it is nonetheless a small reflection of that system.

For any particular discussion, there are many possible discourse systems available for members to interact within and across. This is due to the information that members have publicly disclosed as above. Due to the varied origins of the members, they may be able to communicate to reflect the discourse system typical of their origin, or may be forced to accommodate for the discourse system of others. Due to the various ages of the members, they may be able to speak among those of their own generation, or alternatively have to transcend generational understanding. Also, as both genders are represented, it is possible that members have to reach outwards to the other gender. This last set of systems for this particular discussion is key, as it touches upon gender issues.


Among the many functions of a discourse system, Scollon, Scollon, and Jones (2012) mention that one of them is to enable participants to gain an understanding of their identity. With that in mind, the many background discourse systems present in this discussion present many ways for the participants to assume identities. However, there is one particular discourse system that is invoked because it is pertinent to the discussion. This discourse system is the set of gender discourse system; this discourse system is related to the discussion, which concerns clothing of both genders, and it is here that the participants in this discourse disclose their perceptions, thus attempting to cross the gender systems and recognize their identity.

Speech Events and Acts

Each individual post in the discussion can be considered a single speech act, since the particular member that made the post is identifiable. In the sequence of posts, two patterns can be identified. The first eight posts represent a question-and-answer sequence as the initial post started with a question, and successive posts in that range either answer the question (post 2) or clarify it (post 5); the remaining nine posts are comments that complement the discussion as they provide additional answers and no questions. These two patterns can be construed as two speech events. These speech events can, in turn, be construed as a single speech situation.

There are certain patterns that can be identified from the discussion. Within the question-and-answer sequence, four posts (1, 4, 6, and 8) are made by the member who originally started the discussion, and these posts correlate in sequence with each other. Posts 2 and 3 attempt to answer the questions posed at the start of the discussion and are only linked to post 1. However, post 4, which attempts to clarify post 1, is answered by post 5, which is in turn answered by post 6, which also clarifies post 4. Similarly, post 6 is answered by post 7, and post 8 both answers post 7 and clarifies post 6. The remainder of the posts attempt to add to this core part of the discussion, but are not directly tied to the sequence of posts.


Although the discourse system prefers a solidarity face system and an involvement face strategy, this does not preclude certain members from creating posts that appeal to a deference face system and an independence face strategy. In fact, within this discussion, posts 4, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, and 17 were created with independence and deference in mind. Posts 4 and 7 were made with a pessimistic tone, while posts 9, 13, and 15 were made with the intent of minimizing threat to the original poster, and post 11 was made with the intent of minimizing assumptions of the hearer. The remaining deference-independence post, post 17, was made by utilizing a taciturn strategy. Notably, all of these posts were made by male speakers that participated in this discussion, and posts 4 and 7 are part of the main question-and-answer sequence.

The remaining posts were made to appeal to solidarity and involvement, but for different reasons. In posts 1, 5, and 10, the member tried to notice or attend to the original poster, while in posts 3 and 6, exaggeration of interests were made. Posts 8 and 12 used the strategy of trying to assert common ground. The rest of the posts used three different involvement strategies. For post 2, the member tried to indicate the recognition of the wants of the original poster; for post 14, the member attempted to be voluble or explicit; and for post 16, the member went for an assumption of reciprocity. The female members that posted in this discussion did so at posts 2, 10, and 16, using three different involvement strategies.


In this discussion, only two female members were present. One of them contributed with two posts, while the other contributed with only a single post. However, this was still enough to facilitate an inter-gender discussion. Regardless, this instance of intercultural communication is considered successful. The reason for this is due to the interactions between their posts; these posts relate to the original member that posted this thread as well as to the posts of other members. This interaction is additionally made possible by the fact that this discourse system can be considered a “community of practice” in regard to gender-based discourse system interaction.

In their discussion of gender-based discourse systems, Scollon, Scollon, and Jones (2012) describe two common approaches for those discourse systems. One approach is called the “difference” approach, wherein the two gender discourse systems are treated as having separate ways of communication. The other approach is the “dominance” approach, wherein the masculine gender system is taken as prevailing to the feminine one. The problem with these two approaches is that they do not apply universally and they represent a critical viewpoint. Thus, where these two approaches do not generally apply, a different concept to multiple discourse systems is needed. This concept is called the “community of practice” or “nexus of practice”. The concept is based on the observation that people can and do participate in multiple discourse systems, and that they can affect each other to create different identities. As the background discourse system in this discussion does accommodate for this to happen, this concept is appropriate to describe the situation.

Post 2 was made within the scope of the central question-and-answer sequence in relation to the first post, by using the involvement strategy of indicating the recognition of the wants of the member who made the first post. Post 10 was made by the other participating female member, this time by noticing the member who made the first post, and the same member who made post 2 posted again in post 16, with an assumption of reciprocity; these were done in the outer section of additional posts. Considering the topic of the discussion and the fact that the original member that started the discussion was actually male in gender, it can be seen that the female members here tried to step out of their discussion boundaries to help the male member. They recognized that the egalitarian nature of the situational discourse system as well as its high visibility demands that they contribute in a manner that is helpful to another member, while affirming their identity as belonging to their own gender discourse system. In effect, they recognized the situational discourse system as a community of practice that puts value on not only the original member that posted as a member of the other gender discourse system, but also puts value on themselves representing their own gender discourse system. Doing so allowed their communication to succeed, evidenced by the fact that no negative reactions to their contributions appeared.

In relation to posts made by other members, the three posts that were made by female members attempted to stand out among the contributions made by the other male members that posted in the discussion. Post 2 can be seen as trying to be both descriptive and concise in its provision of answers to the original post, in comparison to post 3, which used exaggeration to hint better interests for the original member that posted. Post 10 appears as an encouraging answer, in comparison to post 11, which, while minimizing assumptions, also appears discouraging. Both post 15 and 16 try to provide the answer to the member who originally started the discussion, but post 16 does so in an illustrative way while post 15 includes an opinionated view. Using different face strategies, what the female members tried to do was to set examples. In the former two cases, the two posts gave a definitive way of answering within the question-and-answer and commentary patterns; the latter case can be thought of as trying to rectify the previous opinionated view. By trying to stand out from the other posts, they were once again able to recognize the situational discourse system as a community of practice, this time by setting straight their own identity as belonging to the female gender discourse system, while at the same time outlining a way for the male gender discourse system to act, though this is not readily followed. Still, by the absence of negative reactions, this way of communication ultimately succeeded.


Intercultural communication does not always result in failure. In some cases, intercultural communication can succeed, as it did in this discussion. Even though only two female members participated in the discussion and only for three posts, this was enough to spur good interaction between them and other members of the male gender discourse system. The female members knew that the situational discourse system of the forum demands them to make good contributions, and as a result, they did so by appealing to the original member that started the discussion. This allowed them to create an identity for their gender discourse system, by transgressing their own discourse system. This identity was further enhanced by the fact that their contributions were different from the others. Essentially, the female members were able to see the situational discourse system as a community of practice, and they crafted their own gender identity using their posts to suit the discourse system and the community of practice. As other members did not react negatively to the posts, the female members accomplished their identity creation and thus intercultural communication within this community of practice.

The identity of the female members perfectly represents how culture can be acted and not just referred to. By making use of their situational discourse system, in particular face systems and strategies, as well as their community of practice, they produced communication that spoke for themselves, their identity, and how they should be perceived. The female members are aware that what they do represents what they are, and so they made use of the cultural tools in their discourse system and communities of practice to show the best way to participate. As a result, they do not come off as being misunderstood; instead, they made themselves understandable; they created communication that bridged their perceptions with the others, making the communication successful.


Capella. (2011, 28 January) Official MYSTcommunity Rules and Guidelines [Forum message]. Retrieved from the MYSTcommunity forums on 23 March 2014:

m01ety et al. (2007, 11 April) What’s The Difference Between Guys T-Shirts And Girls T-Shirts? [Forum message]. Retrieved from the MYSTcommunity forums on 23 March 2014:

Hofstede, G. (1997) Cultures and Organizations: Software of the Mind. London: McGraw-Hill.

Scollon, R., Scollon, S., and Jones, R. (2012) Intercultural Communication: A Discourse Approach. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.


Appendix: Discussion Thread – What’s The Difference Between Guys T-Shirts And Girls T-Shirts?


What’s The Difference Between Guys T-Shirts And Girls T-Shirts?

Seriously, I Am Confuddled. Hewp pweeze?


#1 User is offline   moiety



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Posted 11 April 2007 – 12:44 PM

So I’ve been trying to get this shirt for my brother for, like, half a year now,

At first Threadless mixed up my order with that of some guy from Belgium, and by the time

they figured out things were wrong and charged the cashmoney back on my card, the shirt

was out of stock. Of course, even though I asked Threadless to notify me when it was back

in stock, I wasn’t, even though it was reprinted.

Except now the reprinted ones are almost gone, too! My brother would need a Medium, and

that is sold out.

However, the “Girly Tee” version of Medium isn’t sold out.

So I’m wondering. What’s the difference between Guys and Girly, really? Is a Girly Medium

smaller than a Guys Medium? Essentially, is there any Girly version I can get that would

fit and look good on a guy?

The division seems arbitrary to me. Can someone explain this to me?


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#2 User is offline   Tay



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Posted 11 April 2007 – 12:48 PM


moiety, on Apr 11 2007, 01:44 PM, said:

The division seems arbitrary to me. Can someone explain this to me?

Perhaps they’ve already answered your question. :)

Generally, “girl” versions of shirts have more room to accommodate *ahem* certain body

parts, fit snugger around the shape of the torso to be more “flattering,” as well as

usually being a bit smaller.

Tay 😛


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#3 User is offline   chucker



* oglahnth (ancient one)


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Posted 11 April 2007 – 01:00 PM

I vaguely seem to recall a certain physical feature that, starting with puberty, tends to

separate women’s upper bodies from men’s in a rather significant manner.

But then, I’m not an expert on clothing. 😛

Possibly of help:

Posted Image


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#4 User is offline   moiety



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Posted 11 April 2007 – 04:25 PM

Clothing is confusing. 😛

So I guess the answer is “Yes, a Girly Tee would look wrong on your brother”?


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#5 User is offline   chucker



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Posted 11 April 2007 – 04:29 PM

Well, the answer certainly is “girly tees tend to be noticeably smaller (despite the same

size label), and tend to slightly account for the chest”. As to whether the particular

shirt would “look wrong on him”, that’s really something he’d have to decide for himself

by trying it out… the actual differences between girl and boy cuts of clothing vary in a

completely random manner. 😛

…but yes, most of the time, the answer is “you’d rather want to wait for a man’s

version”. (Perhaps this is why Threadless didn’t notify you? Maybe they only had women’s

sizes and figured your case wouldn’t apply?)


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#6 User is offline   moiety



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Posted 11 April 2007 – 04:36 PM


chucker, on Apr 11 2007, 06:29 PM, said:

Perhaps this is why Threadless didn’t notify you? Maybe they only had women’s sizes and

figured your case wouldn’t apply?

No, I’m certain they reprinted all of them at the same time, because they didn’t even have

small, and it would make no sense for them to only reprint small men’s shirts. The reason

for lack of notification is their a) crappy service and b) terrible web store software. 😛


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#7 User is offline   chucker



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Posted 11 April 2007 – 04:38 PM


moiety, on Apr 12 2007, 12:36 AM, said:

No, I’m certain they reprinted all of them at the same time, because they didn’t even have

small, and it would make no sense for them to only reprint small men’s shirts. The reason

for lack of notification is their a) crappy service and b) terrible web store software. :)

Fair ’nuff. Just playing devil’s advocate. 😛


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#8 User is offline   moiety



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Posted 11 April 2007 – 04:41 PM


chucker, on Apr 11 2007, 06:38 PM, said:

Fair ’nuff. Just playing devil’s advocate. 😛

I like playing. :)


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#9 User is offline   MystRivenExile



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Posted 11 April 2007 – 08:26 PM


I’ve ordered a lot of t-shirts for my team, and I’m surprised they bothered to break up

the sizing between girls and guys. I guess in that case they’d be smaller (already

answered), but I really don’t see the point, especially since they aren’t numbered sizes.

You see, I pretty much just wanted to shout MACGYVER! I want that shirt… 😛


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#10 User is offline   Mystress



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Posted 12 April 2007 – 06:28 AM

I have several girls and guys t-shirts. Most of my girls tees are indeed smaller and wider

in the chest. Some are even smaller and supposed to… well… But none of mine are belly

The guys shirts are just wider. I suppose that if he’s really conscious about it, you

could get the biggest Girl’s Tee size they have and try it on him. It just depends on how

broad shouldered and big around your brother is. They do have Extra Larges in stock, so

you could try that.


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#11 User is offline   M@



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Posted 12 April 2007 – 10:07 AM

Even if you just got a bigger girl’s shirt to make up the difference, I think it’d still

be noticeable. I’ve noticed that girl’s shirts’ sleeves are different from those of guy’s

shirts. Not only are they more form-fitting, but they’re not as long….and it comes

across to me as a distinctly feminine style :) So I really wouldn’t think you’d want to

get a girl’s shirt.




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#12 User is offline   Fireymarbles



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Posted 12 April 2007 – 11:30 PM

Yeah, I got given a women’s T-shirt last year… the idiots who ordered the team T-shirts

for a production my school did last year forgot that not all the dancers were female, and

also that the backstage and lighting crew were over half male, so they only bought women’s

shirts, almost all of which were medium. I’m only just comfortable in a large men’s size.

So yeah, this shirt pretty much wouldn’t fit me at all, except that it’s made of stretchy

fabric, in order to be more… erm… accomodating around the chest region, so I can

squeeze into it. Just.

Put shortly, if you do get it, get one a good couple of sizes larger than you would

otherwise, and still don’t expect it to look quite right.


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#13 User is offline   Free Bird



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Posted 13 April 2007 – 04:21 AM

I bet MacGyver would know how to turn a girly t-shirt into a guys t-shirt with only a

Philishave… 😛


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#14 User is offline   U



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Posted 13 April 2007 – 06:02 AM

the shoulder seams are higher.


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#15 User is offline   Dark Sky



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Posted 13 April 2007 – 11:20 AM

And the whole shape of the t-shirt is different

Far be it from me to laugh at anyone who dares to go against the norms of society in terms

of not adhering to gender fashion stereotypes, but generally I would say that if you tried

to give a guy a girl’s t-shirt, he will not be Best Pleased.


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#16 User is offline   Tay



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“Is it me being too conservative or them being too insensitive?” A reflective thought on politeness in students’ Short Message Service (SMS)

Alfima Azmi Imananda
Graduate Program of English Language Teaching, State University of Malang
Sunoko Setyawan
Graduate Program of English Language Teaching, State University of Malang

Abstract: With the spirit of qualitative study, the researchers investigated the use of politeness strategies reflected in the students’ SMS to their lecturer. The messages were analyzed in the aspects of the politeness strategies employed by the students and the possible rationales underlying them. The results signify that the students failed to perform sufficient politeness strategies. Thus it is important for lecturers to explicitly integrate politeness issue in the classroom.

Keyword: students’ SMS, politeness strategy


I am a novice lecturer who just graduated from undergraduate degree. I have been teaching ESP for freshmen in the university for three semesters. Although college students can be considered as adult students who are aware of the acceptable conventions and values in the society and university, sometimes I must deal with students’ attitude and other character building issues in the classroom. One of the most striking parameters of the students’ attitude is the way they send text messages to me. In the first meeting, I always give them my phone number in case they need to ask my permission for being absent and late or submitting the assignments. Then, it is interesting to see that there are various styles of text messages that I have received. Actually, the prominent aspect that caught my attention was the politeness issue in the messages. I am not saying that I am a conservative teacher who needs absolute respect from their students. Nevertheless, I am often bothered with the fact that students’ messages are not appropriate in terms of politeness parameter in the academic context.

The above anecdote illustrates the importance of teaching pragmatics in the classroom. The success of learning process is determined not only by the linguistic competence the students get but also by the quality of the students and teacher interaction inside and outside the classroom. In this case, pragmatic knowledge influences the quality of teacher and student interaction as it involves the ability to behave and respond in different situations and contexts (Senowarsito, 2013). Brock and Nagasaka (2005) assert that the incompetence of Pragmatics may lead the speaker and interlocutor to misunderstanding and miscommunication or even the perception that the speakers are ignorant or impolite. Brock and Nagasaka then illustrate the example of pragmatics ability in two statements, “Borrow your pen” and “Can I borrow your pen?”. Both of these requests are actually understandable, but people may be more in favor with the second statement simply because it sounds more polite than the other.

Furthermore, the interaction between students and teachers does not happen only in the classroom. Nowadays, it is acceptable for teacher and students to communicate via emails and other devices like Short Messaging Service (SMS) ; especially for university students and their lecturers (Faiz and Suhaila, 2013). Lecturers and students prefer communicating via email and SMS as they offer great speed and low cost (Najeb et al, 2012 and Dansieh, 2013). Besides, it allows for communication at a cost that is less than that of a phone call, offering more privacy and allowing users to communicate without being disturbed or disturbing those around them (Crystal in Winzker et al 2009). Meanwhile, college students, who are still included as teenagers, are the great main consumer of phone message (Ling, 2004 in Barkhuus, no year). Thus, many lecturers choose SMS as their means of communication since most students utilize it in their daily life.

Short Messaging Service (SMS) is automobile message service in which the sender and receiver are restricted to send only 160 characters in each message (Wikipedia, 2014). Because it is restricted into 160 characters, the texters often disregard the standard features of texting for the sake of efficiency cost and energy during texting (Thurlow, 2003:5 in Geertsema et al, 2005). Thurlow then claims that SMS can be included into non-standard form of written texts as it has the following features such as g-clippings (excluding the end -g letter), for example: “Goin” (Going), shortenings (deletion of end letters, excluding the -g letter), for example: “Aft” (After), contractions (deletion of middle letters), for example: “Nxt” (Next), acronyms and initialisms (formed from initial letters of various words), for example:”LOL” (Laugh out loud), number homophones, for example: “B4” (Before), letter homophones, for example: “U” (You), and non-conventional spellings, for example: “Nite” (Night).

In addition to the lack of linguistics features, many students failed to perform adequate Pragmatics competence in their communication via SMS. A study conducted by Faiz and Suhaila (2013) investigating a sample of 50 sms messages selected from either undergraduate or diploma students to their lecturers in Malaysia signifies that most students did not employ the appropriate politeness strategies in their messages to the lecturers. The absence of awareness of the difference in social distance, power, and face in students’ messages could lessen face-threatening acts between students and lecturers.

Considering the condition above, this study also concerns with the politeness issue raised in students’ messages to their lecturer; especially in their permission messages. The objective of this study is to reveal students’ politeness strategies in their short message service messages and the possible considerations in utilizing it. The findings of this study can be a consideration of lecturers in addressing the politeness issue in the classroom, especially related to the importance of teaching politeness in the classroom.



Brown and Levinson (1978 in Maginnis, 2011) believe that everyone is basically always concerned with other person’s autonomy needs and his/her desire to be liked by others during the interaction. The need and intention are then reflected in the strategies employed during communication. One of the strategies is politeness strategies which are actually aimed at saving other people’s feelings and the speakers’ image. Besides, the conventions for expressing politeness have been used to minimize conflict and maintain ritual stability (Kachru and Smith, 2008:54).

Politeness is defined by Yule (2002:40) as “the means employed to show awareness for another person’s face.” Meanwhile, Arndt and Janney (1985) propose that politeness is how people use the right words or phrases in the right context. The context itself is set by the established agreement in the society. Wardaugh (1986) supports Arndt and Janney’s claim in which politeness depends on the existence of standards or norms among people. Based on these definitions, it can be inferred that politeness is the use of appropriate words which aim at respecting other people’s feelings in which the degree of appropriateness is defined by the agreement in the society.

We might question the definition of face addressed in Yule’s statement. Someone’s face is the image in the aspect of emotional and social which everyone expects others will see (Yule, 2002:42). Similar to Yule, Brown and Levinson (1978) and Goffman (1967 in Maginnis, 2011) also believe that every person has self image drawn from social attribute which is called as face. He further claims “face” as public self-image which every member expects to claim for himself. The ‘face’ is then categorized into two aspects, positive face and negative face. Positive face reflects the needs for social approval or the desire to be liked by others. Meanwhile, negative face refers to claims to territories and freedoms of action as well as freedom from imposition. In taking part in a face threatening act (FTA), one should support each other’s face. Kachru and Smith (2008:43) argue that any actions which limit the addresses’ freedom of action and freedom from imposition are considered to be face-threatening. FTAs that threaten the negative face of the hearer include advice, requests, offers and compliments in that advice and requests attempt to restrict the addressees ‘options of actions, while compliments may suggest that the speaker is envious of the addressee and is, therefore, eager to get what the addressee has . On the other hand, FTAs that threaten the positive face of the hearer include disagreements, disapproval and contradictions in that they may imply that the speaker thinks the addressees have been mistaken in certain aspects.

In implementing the politeness strategies, Brown and Levinson (1978) believe that people consider three parameters of politeness. Those are social distance, relative power and ranks. The greater and the higher the distance, power, or rank of the people are, the more politeness strategy they are likely to implement during interaction.


Parameters of Politeness

According to Kachru and Smith(2008: 41-54), there are twelve parameters of politeness that can be studied of what being polite means in different cultures. They are values, face, status, rank, role, power, age, sex, social distance, intimacy, kinship, and group membership. All parameters are not equally separated each other and they interact each other with complex ways. Besides, it is inevitable to separate parameters of politeness because they interact each other. It is very easy to combine some of them into three dimension of analyzing linguistic politeness: social distance vs. intimacy, power vs. lack of it, and informal vs. formal. Not to mention, in showing the parameter of politeness tact or linguistic behavior is used. For example, a boss asks his secretary, “Get me the file over there” is considered polite. However, when he asks, “Get me a cup of coffee” is not considered polite because it is not the secretary’s task. However, if they are close friends, probably a more casual verbal interaction is possible.

In classroom context, the parameters of politeness which may occur are the values, face, status, role, power, age, social distance, and kinship. In the classroom, the lecturers are seen as the person who has more power and commonly are older than the students. Considering this common context, the values perceive that the lecturers receive more politeness from their students. Sometimes, we find that the lecturers are much younger than the students. In this case, politeness is still utilized as the power of the lecturers is seen more important value. In other words, parameter of politeness is not a fixed formula in the society; it depends on the situation.


Politeness Strategy

The following are politeness strategies proposed by Brown and Levinson (1978) which are used to save the addressees’ face when face-threatening acts are desired or necessary.

  1. Bald on-Record

This strategy refers to the usage of direct statements which are employed in a succinct way without any attempts to minimize the imposition on the addressees. The speakers mostly only concentrate on conveying the message to the addressee clearly without considering about the face-threatening acts that might be happening. It usually employs a very minimum effort to save the addressee’s face. This strategy is usually used only for those who have a close relationship between each other. It includes several contexts such as task oriented, request, emergency and alert.

  1. Positive Politeness
    It reflects the approval of addressee and considers the wishes of addressee highly. The speaker also sounds friendlier to show more respect to the interlocutor by talking about what the interlocutor wants, and then trying to maintain a comfortable situation for both of them. Avoiding disagreement and assuming agreement between the interlocutors are typical in this type of politeness strategy. This strategy is also commonly employed in social community such as groups of friends.
  2. Negative Politeness

This type of politeness strategy is usually oriented from the addressees’ negative face. It attempts not to impose on the addressee’s freedom of choice. In other words, the addressee wants to feel free from any imposition and to be respected by the speakers. This usually happens in a situation where the interlocutors have a great social distance, such as a teacher with his students or a boss with his subordinates.

  1. Off-record Strategy
    In employing the off-record strategy, the speakers usually use an implicit ways of conveying a message, by giving hints or being vague. The speakers are likely to let the addressee decide how to response to the acts without feeling imposed by the speakers.


In the spirit of qualitative study, this research is conducted by the analysis of seven short messages in requesting permission from the students. In this study, one of the researchers is the lecturer who gathered the sample of messages received in the first month of the third semester of the ESP session. The messages were gathered during March to April. Out of 18 messages, the researcher only took seven messages due to the similar pattern occurred in the text messages. Because the data were collected in the beginning of the semester, the topic of the short messages was dominated with students’ permission request and negotiation of class schedule.

In analyzing the data, the researcher judged whether or not the messages utilized the politeness strategies based on politeness strategies proposed by Brown and Levinson (1978) .The process continued with the analysis of possible considerations or rationales why the students use certain styles. Since the politeness parameter is very subjective and relative from one person to another, the researchers avoided subjectivity in the process of judgment the degree of politeness in students messages by asking other students and lecturers to judge the sample messages based on politeness values that they have. Other students and lecturers were also asked their parameters in indicating the degree of politeness in the sample messages.


Message One; Tell Me Who You Are


Assalamualaikumwarahmatullahiwabarakatuh. Maaf mengganggu Miss. Besok kita jd pindah kelas jam 9-10?



Sorry, besok tidak ada ruangan untuk jam 9-10. Kita bertemu hari kamis saja. Thanks.



Iya miss. Maaf mengganggu. Waalaikumsalamwarahmatullahiwabarakatuh. Selamat malam Mis.


When I received this message, I was wondering who the sender was. The sender did not mention his identity in his message, which gave me no clues about who the sender of the message could be. Despite the absence of identity, I replied the message since I was quite sure with my assumption that he must have been one of the students in my class held in the following day. In the next class meeting, I asked the class who might have sent me the message, and figured out that it was Andika who did so.

Andika is the vice captain of the class, who had not interacted with me before. Instead of contacting him, I usually contacted the captain of the class. In this extract, a sense of distance and power between Andika and me is quite obvious. He seems to employ negative politeness strategy (Brown & Lavinson, 1978). The way he initiated the message by providing an expression of greeting “Assalamualaikumwarahmatullahiwabarakatuh” and apologizing for possible disturbance he might cause “Maaf Menggangu” clearly indicates that he did not want me to feel imposed upon his real intention of texting. After receiving my response to his inquiry, he once again replied and asked for forgiveness if his message might have caused disturbance or imposition on me. Relating to the politeness strategy postulated by Brown & levinson, it seems that Andika employs the negative politeness strategy when texting to his lecturer by minimizing the sense of imposition as much as he could. He further ended his text, as if it were not polite enough, by providing double formal partings “Waalaikumsalamwarahmatullahiwabarakatuh” and “ Selamat malam Mis.”.


Message Two; Please, You Left Me with No Choice

Good morning.

I am … NIM D class Biology.. Sorry Miss I could not attend your class today because I was sick. Please understanable. Thanks


Azmi is a student of English department class, who never got in touch with me prior to this message. In this message, she began her message by providing an expression of greeting “good morning” and continued by providing her identity and intention of texting in a concise and direct way. Upon reading this message, I felt that Azmi had successfully and clearly sent her intention of texting me; unfortunately in my point of view, the way she composed the text message was not quite polite “Sorry Miss I could not attend your class today because I was sick”.

Upon reading this message, I felt that she left me no choice of actions or decisions about her presence or absence in my class. As a matter of fact, I am the lecturer, the one who should have more power in deciding whether she was to be present or absent in my class. The way of her delivering this message has threatened my face, or public self-image as a lecturer (Brown & Lavinson, 1987: 61). Furthermore, her message shows a little effort in face-maintaining linguistic behavior. In fact, the greater effort expended in face-maintaining linguistic behavior is, the greater the politeness will be(Brown & Levinson in Kachru, 2008). Even though she mentioned that she could not attend the class because of her health, it should not give her every reason to take a decision prior to her lecturer. Relating to Brown & Levinsion’s strategies of politeness, Azmi seems to employ bald on-record strategy by conveying her message as efficient as possible without paying attention about face threatening act that is potentially happening.

I did not reply this message at that time since I could not manage to do it. I believe that the message would have been more appropriate if Azmi had made a little modification on her message, such as topicalization, by stating “I am sorry, I am afraid I could not attend …” to make the impression of greater effort in her message.


Message Three; Sorry, You are Not Understandable.

Ijin bu ini Reni.. Komunikasi B ijin bertanya hari ini ibu hadir apa tidak


I had to read this message three times once I received this message. The absence of punctuation makes this message difficult to be understood. Reni actually intended to be polite by asking my permission to ask if I came to the classroom at that time.

However, I was a bit upset with this message because of two reasons. First, the message is not written grammatically correctly, so that it is hard for me to understand the message. Secondly, this message implies a low degree of seriousness of attending the class that I could catch from Reni. It was supposed to be the first meeting of the class, and it was raining heavily. Reni and I had never met in advance. However, Reni seemed to have the intention to be absent in her first class with me just due to the rain. She made sure my presence in the classroom by texting me before hand. Thus, she did not need to come to the class in case I was not around. Due to this disappointed feeling, I ignored her message. I also considered her as absent in my class due to invalid reasons of not coming to the classroom.


Message Five; It is the way too casual

  1. Saya mau omong”an soal project kita bu. Takutnya kalau saman g bs ngajar bu.
  2. Miss Fima, saya pengen ngumpulin tugas. Miss fimanya lagi ngajar ya?

Both messages above were written by two students of English department who, compared to the other students, interact quite often with me dealing with class activity or assignments. The way both students texted me does not indicate a great distance or power between the students and me. Both messages use a very informal language “saya mau omong”an (in message a), and saya pengen ngumpulin (in message b)”. The words “mau omong”an and pengen ngumpulin” are not actually Indonesian or English words, but Javanese words, which are not appropriately used in academic settings especially should it be delivered by a student to his lecturer. Moreover, the messages were casually created using abbreviations, such as “omong”an, which means berbicara (Indonesia) or discuss (English)”, “g bs” which means tidak bisa (Indonesia) or cannot (English).

Moreover, both messages were not equipped with any expressions of greetings or personal identity which implies that there is sense of distance and power between the students (senders) and the receiver (the lecturer). Related to the politeness strategy proposed by Brown & levinton, both students seem to apply negative politeness strategy by minimizing a sense of imposition on the lecturer “takutnya kalau saman g bs ngajar, and Miss fimanya lagi ngajar ya?” However, in attempting to use the negative politeness strategy, the students did not use an appropriately good language in terms of the structure and the diction of the sentences.


Message six; Threatening


Sorry miss I permission cause I am gonna be late on our class at 1 a.m. cause I’ve part time job it done on 12.15


The student sending this message to me is an English department student who does not interact with me intensively. In other word, the relation between her and me is like any other students with their lecturer. In my point of view, the way she texted me was quite threatening. She did not begin or end the message by providing any expression of greeting or parting. Instead, she began the message by giving a direct and brief notification about name and school identity number in capital letters, which was quite shocking to me at first since capital letter writing usually indicates that the message is urgent. In fact it turned out to be an asking-for-permission message.

In addition, the sender of the message could have been more polite by using some precursors or alerts in indicating her name by saying “excuse me, I am Nadia Isminanda” rather than going directly to say “NADIA ISMINANDA,.” Furthermore, she then continued her message by giving direct, informal and non-structurally correct English sentences. Firstly, the directness of the message can be seen from the way she only concerned about conveying the message to the receiver without paying attention to the face threatening act that might happen (Sorry,. I am gonna be late,. I’ve part time Job). Secondly, the informality of the message was indicated by the diction and abbreviation she uses, such as “Sorry miss,. I am gonna be,. I’ve part time job”. Thirdly, the sentences of the message were not structurally correct “I permission,. I’ve part time job”. Apart from the lack of politeness instruments, the message seems to threat my face or public self-image since it seems to ignore the existence of the lecturer’s power who has the authority to decide students’ presence in the classroom. She seemed to force the lecturer to understand that she can come late due toher unfinished part time job. Relating to the politeness strategies proposed by Brown & Levinson (1987), the student seems to employ bald on-record strategy in that the student only try to convey the message to the addressee clearly without considering to prevent the face threatening act which is possibly happening to the addressee.



Crystal (2001:28 in Winzker et al, 2009) believes that sending SMS is similar to face to face speech interaction. Through this means of communication, the texters expect the immediate response. Besides, the texters manifest the use of creative style reflecting emotions or feeling through the use of spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. The challenging part of texting is the participants are required to use spokenly written messages; the language which is intended to be, but it must be written (Collot & Belmore, 1996:14 in Winzker et al, 2009). Thus, people usually text the words as they are spoken, overuse the punctuation to deliver the feelings to the receiver, and omit punctuation to text efficiently.

The way people text using spoken mode might then leads them to informal written language. This problem also happens among the students. Winkzer et al (2009:3) claims that students are difficult to shift from SMS language to standard language because of the prolonged use of SMS language. Consequently, the students are difficult to express their intention using the appropriate diction in context (Aziz, et al, 2013). The students believe that this practice is accepted as the informal use of SMS language is also exposed in the form of text messages, television, billboards, comics, books, newspapers and sometimes circulars from their institutions.

The insufficient competence of texting messages in the formal written language is also reflected in the above samples of students’ messages. The first message might imply that the texters forgot to include their identity in the message to the lecturers due to the prolonged use of SMS language (Winkerz et al, 2009). On the other hand, The absence of identity might also imply that the texter, in fact, intentionally did not provide his identity because he assumed that the recipient has already known his identity, indicating a close relationship. This assumption might then lead the texter to simplify his message, without providing identity notifications, since he/she is sure that the message will be successfully understood by the recipient. It is in line with the fact happening in message one where the students forgot to include the name, or intentionally provided no identity notification. However, the lecturer still replied the message because she knew that the sender must be from one of her students of the following day’s class. Nevertheless, the absence of identity notifications will hinder the communication when the teacher has some classes on that day as she has no idea in what class the student is.

Not to mention, the samples of messages also signify how students cannot use mechanics and capitalization appropriately as well as the use of abbreviation which make them informal. First, in the aspect of punctuation, message three affirms how the absence of correct punctuation makes the lecturers upset. The texter in message three actually wants to make a question to the lecturer, but the statement does not end with a question mark. In addition, in the aspect of capitalization, the texter in message six employs capitalization to let the lecturer notice her name. These two examples confirm the characteristics of SMS proposed by Crystal (2001: 34) and Thurlow et al (2004: 125) as cited in Whinskerz et al (2009) in which there are repetitions of letters and punctuation marks as well as the use of capitalization to show the emphasis of emotion and feelings. The other point about typical SMS language appears when the students employ spokenly written words which make the language too informal. The informality is reflected when the texter in message six use the word gonna in her text. Besides, message five is the precise example of informal language use in SMS as the texter use spoken style instead of the written ones.

The informality and errors in the terms of punctuation, mechanics, and the appropriateness issue reflected in SMS implies to the degree of politeness that the receiver perceive. Ling (2003 in Elvis, 2009) argues that the limitation happened in SMS is perceived rude since it indicates that the texter is not willing to allocate more time and energy to text appropriately. The lecturer in this case is upset when she receives the message with some limitation in its linguistic features as it suggests that the students do not reread their message to make sure whether or not they have sent the correct message.

With regard the effort or energy that the texter should expose in his/her message, Kachru and Smith (2008: 41-54) also regards this parameter as the indicator whether or not the texter is being polite. Kachru and Smith believe that people who utilize the greater effort demonstrated in face maintaining linguistic behavior likely to be more polite. In addition, the use of topicalization reflects the greater effort before stating the main points. The lecturer in this study regards the texters in message two and six as impolite as they are being too direct in their message. The absence of topicalization then imposes the lecturer’s freedom which can threaten her negative face. Actually, more effort can be given in the message through the use of appropriate opening and closing like in the formal letter using Dear …. The use of opening and closing increases the degree of formality of the message which can lead to the perception of being polite.

However, in the eye of the students, they may think that they use standard SMS language in order to show intimacy and social relationship. The texters especially young generations, employ unconventional use of language to show intimacy and their identity. As what has been mentioned by the lecturer, she is still young. Thus, some students might perceive that the lecturer more to be their facilitators or tutors instead of being typical ‘college lecturer’ who is commonly much older than them. In light of this condition, the young lecturer receives less degree of politeness from their students

In addition, many students utilize bald on record and negative strategy in showing the politeness which impacts on the lecturer’s response. The lecturers are likely to ignore the messages if the messages were sent using bald on record strategy as she felt to be imposed by the students.


Should Teachers Teach How to Text?

            Considering the importance of pragmatic competence which involves the ability to text politely to the lecturers, the students have to possess the sufficient pragmatic competence. This competence functions as the bridge to enable the successful interaction between the students and lecturers which can prevent them from misunderstanding and feeling offended.

The next question raised on how we should teach the students how to text. Brock and Nagasaka (2005) proposed a way to teach pragmatic in the classroom. They claim that pragmatic competence should not be a bonus for language classroom. Instead, the teachers are suggested to explicitly teach the competence. They name the strategies with SURE which stands for See, Use, Review, and Experience.

The first thing to do is to see which refers to the activity where the students see the importance of pragmatics competence in their daily communication, especially for the use of politeness strategies. In this stage, the students are encouraged to be aware of kinds of politeness strategies and how the consequences of each strategy. Then, ‘Use’ refers activities in which students can apply English in contexts (simulated and real) where they choose how they interact based on their understanding of the situation suggested by the activity. After that, the activity moves to the review, where the students receive reinforcement and review of the pragmatic knowledge that they have obtained. The last stage is to experience in which the students experience the real communication use and see how pragmatics works on that.



This study reflects how students utilize their pragmatic competence within their real communication. It turns out that some students have lack competence in using politeness strategies especially when it comes to communicate in a written mode via SMS. The most possible rationale of this action is due to the effect of SMS features which may influence their perception in using formal language and the perception of student-lecturer interaction in the classroom. We believe that teaching how to text politely is needed to be explicitly carried out in language classroom in order to enable the students to communicate appropriately. This study is only the sample of some students’ short messages. Thus, we suggest that further bigger and deeper researcher on students and teachers’ perception of politeness needs to be conducted.




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Language Use and Choice in Jember- Javanese Speakers A Study on Intercultural Communication

by Alies Poetri Lintangsari

University of Brawijaya, Malang


Nowadays, we cannot put stereotype on people based on culture since we are tangled into various discourse systems. Culture is no longer considered as a product of people’s life, it goes further to the latest notion that culture is a heuristic, “a tool for thinking”, by this; our culture cannot be formulated based on our ethnicity. Culture on this definition is not only reflecting the communal identity but also individual identity.

Language as one of cultural tools also play role in shaping people identity. People, since they share many discourse systems, also acquire many languages that can be picked up to communicate and they may pick the tools as their necessity to use it. Language works two functions in communication, to convey information or to express relationship. Language choice is critical to fulfill both of function. Jemberan speakers in this discussion are the ones who consider themselves as Jember people intertwined by various cultural identities such as Madura, Chinese, Javanese and Arabic. This paper aims to study language choice used in Jemberan speakers’ communication to know the motives behind.


Language Use and Choice in Intercultural Communication

                The term ‘Intercultural Communication’ as explained by Scollon and Scollon (2000,2001) is how persons manage to come the complexity of various different systems faced during communication. Those complexities come from various backgrounds such as gender, social political background, geographical background, educational background, and religious background, people live in it, and they develop and learn the acceptable pattern to be involved in society. They learn languages and varieties in their development, and then lead them to the cyclical question, how they navigate their identity through membership? Language use and choice might be raised as an answer.

Language use and choice is unavoidably in intercultural communication since it entails the use of various languages or language varieties and there are many differential accesses for speakers to enjoy them. Language use is critical in achieving effective understanding on linguistic situation in a multilingual discourse system like Jemberan speakers. When those speakers have access of two or more languages, they make choices as to when, where, how and to whom they use a certain language. The choices speakers make will determine their capability in using language to fulfill its two functions, first is showing their identity in membership, and second is to shape their membership identity.

Bahasa Jemberan: Linguistic Varieties of Pandalungan

In doing communication people are using a code; they share their codes into their addressee as the communicative tools. Therefore, code can be meant as the system of communication that has a function as communicative tools. As communicative tools, code cannot solely be meant as a ‘Language’, as explained by Duranti, in his book entitled Linguistic Anthropology (1997) that today we have to be careful in defining between Language and a language:

“It is important to distinguish between “language” and “a language.” The former refers to the human faculty to communicate using particular types of signs (e.g. sounds, gestures) organized in particular types of units (e.g. sequences) and the latter refers to a particular sociohistorical product, identifiable with a label such as “English,” “Tok Pisin,” “Polish,” “Swahili,” “Chinese,” “American Sign Language,” “Sign English.”” (Duranti, 1997)


The first definition lead us to understand Language as the ability of doing communication while a language refers to specific communicative tools on the basis of social and cultural context. A language is not only considered as the cultural product but also the cultural agent that builds the identity of a certain community, the college students for instance, though they are involved to the same community, there will be a different code between male and female students. Those differences are not merely due to the language, but also due to dialect, register, and even style as sociolinguist call it as linguistic varieties (Andersen 1990; Biber and Finegan 1994 in Duranti 1997).

The term variety will lead us to the study of linguistic repertoire and speech community. As originally introduced by Gumperz (1964: 137), linguistic repertoire refer to “the totality of linguistic forms regularly employed in the course of socially significant interaction. “ (Duranti, 1994). Repertoire is considered as the speaking properties owned by all speakers by regarding one life’s experience.

Jember is known as melting pot regency where many ethnic groups are mingled. Most of Jember population are Javanese and Madura people and small percentage of Tionghoa, Osing, Arabic and Indian. It includes to Pandalungan culture since its most population are Javanese and Madura people. Etymologically, referring to Bausastra Jawa Indonesia II (Prowiroatmojo, 1985), Pandalungan is a Javanese word for dalung which means periuk besar (big pot). Symbolically, ‘periuk besar’ can be defined as a place where all kinds of society groups are mingled and living together. According to the illustration above, it can be imagined how many linguistic varieties may develop in Jember.

Pandalungan refers to the mixing of two big cultures, Javanese and Madura, remembering that both cultures are majority in the referred areas.   There is no certain time when Pandalungan is used to represent the hybrid cultures of Javanese and Madura, but the society commonly call people as ‘orang pandalungan’ when s/he is grown up in that hybrid circumstance. Hary Yuswadi (2005:101) defined Pandalungan as : (1). Sebuah percampuran antara budaya jawa dan Madura, (2). Masyarakat Madura yang lahir di Jawa dan beradaptasi dengan budaya Jawa.

Javanese and Madura as the majority ethnic in Pandalungan society in Jember contribute more to the language in daily use. Bahasa Jemberan is socially known as the daily language of Jember people, it is created by the combination of Javanese and Madura language. Bahasa Jemberan may be classified into dialect rather than language since the words come as the combination of Javanese and Madura, such as Koen (you) which is the combination of Kowe (Javanese) and Be’en (Madura). The characteristic of Bahasa Jemberan dialect (usually pronounced in Madura accent) deals with the ethnic identity, such as Javanese with Jemberan dialect,   Chinese with Jemberan dialect, Arabic with Bahasa Jemberan and so on. As the majority, Javanese and Madura language are most used in daily life. The words are hybrid of Javanese at most than Madura while the variety of the language usage is close to the Madura (i.e. by repeating the last syllable in the preceding words such as nak kanak) . Here below some examples of Bahasa Jemberan dialect:


                It is a case study on Jemberan speakers which is analyzed qualitatively. Since it is qualitative research, researcher is the main instrument; other instruments are recording tool and transcribing software. The basic questions raised in this study are:

  1. Which languages are used in language contact, Jemberan, Javanese, Indonesia, Madura or English?
  2. What is the language choices found in the conversation?
  3. What are the motives behind the language use and choice?
  4. What is the influence of social factors on the language use and language choice?

This study will be discussed through following steps:

  1. Transcribing the audio data from conversation record.
  2. Analyzing the differences of participants’ background.
  3. Breaking down the grammar of context
  4. Analyzing aspects of discourse system occurred in conversation.
  5. Analyzing the speech events occurred in conversation.
  6. Analyzing the face system existed in the conversation.
  7. Analyzing language use and choice.



                The participants of this discussion have different background, but they share the same discourse system namely they were English department of Faculty of Letters in Jember University and they grown up in Jember. Here below the details information:

  1. Arif : 27, Male, University Student, active speaker of Madura, Javanese, and Bahasa Indonesia, Use English as Educational purposes.
  2. Yofan : 26, Male, University Student, active speaker of Javanese, and Bahasa Indonesia, passive speaker of Madura, Use English as Educational purposes.
  3. Lintang: 26, Female, University Student, active speaker of Javanese, and Bahasa Indonesia, passive speaker of Madura, Use English as Educational purposes


Scene    : Scene is considered as the most obvious aspect of context. Scene is consisted into some aspects, the first is setting that can be meant as physical location, time, place, and use of space.   The second is the purpose or the function. The third is topic, and the last is genre.

The setting of this conversation is in kedai kopi cak wang, at night (from 21.00 to 24.00 WIB). Kedai Kopi Cak Wang is a café coffee designed traditionally as the common kedai kopi in Indonesia, such as there is no aesthetic touch in this kedai kopi, the interior is so simple with long bench and big table that allow the customer sit in group. The interior design is different to modern café coffee that most adapted from European design. Although Kedai Kopi Cak Wang is traditionally designed, but they use the modern concept of transaction, they adopted fast food way in doing the transaction. The customer should come to the cashier to order the beverage and also pay their bill, after that they can find a set, do some chat while waiting their coffee come.

As one aspect of communication, spaces used in this conversation is more to have the characteristic of egalitarian, everyone has their own spaces and freedom to occupy the spaces. Everyone in this conversation has had the same understanding of what topic will be discussed since they have communicated before the meeting happens. The form of speech events in this conversation is informal meeting, in Javanese this activity usually called as ngopi (having coffee time). Though ngopi refers to the activity of drinking coffee, this kind of activity is not merely signified by that. The activity is more to the discussion or having a light chat. Since it is informal meeting, there is no conventional rules to start the meeting, but youths usually starts the meeting by ordering the coffee and waste their waiting time by chatting.

Key        : It refers to the tone or mode of communication. Since it is informal meeting, the key of this conversation is relaxed. There are no certain rules to involve to the conversation; everyone/every group usually have their own unwritten rules just for improving intimacy. This kind of mode usually involves the real face of the participant since every members of speech events are close each other.

Participants        : There are three speakers in this conversation; Arif, Yofan and I. Participants are not merely the matters of whom are they but also how they play or take roles in conversation. According to this conversation, I am the one who lead the topic while my two other friends responding my initial speech. But when the conversation went on, Arif dominated the conversation more than me and Yofan, he wanted to be heard more than to hear.

Message Form  : This conversation took form in oral conversation.

Sequence            : It is an open agenda since it is an informal meeting, there are no specific sequences that tied the activity. Though there are no specific sequences tied the activity, the understanding of conventional sequence to this activity is needed to help us to be well involved to the activity. For new comer like me, be there is a kind of confusion, at first I thought that it will be like ngopi in other places, but since the place is designed traditionally, I thought there will be the same sequence as I did ngopi in other traditional kedai kopi. When we ngopi in traditional kedai kopi, the seller will offer us the menu while she/he revealing some jokes or just asking how’s life, there is communicative communication between the seller and the customer. As I had that thought, so the first thing I did was finding my seat until my friend Yofan, asked me to go to the cashier first, he asked me to choose my beverage and pay it, after that we find our seat and have some chat while waiting our coffee. As a new comer, I was confused because my shared knowledge of ngopi in kedai kopi.

Co-occurrence pattern  : I can consider that this speech event is unmarked since everything run as predicted. When people go to have ngopi time, they will have some prediction that ngopi in this kind of kedai kopi will end up with chatting, laughing, and smoking and of course, drinking coffee.

Manifestation   : Those communication components above are manifested tacitly. Every members of the group who was familiarized with ngopi activity will understood the components since they belong to. New comer will also recognize the sequence of ngopi easily though it is unwritten.


                Discourse System has 4 aspects as outlined by Scollon, Scollon and Jones (2012). To make the dialogues go together, a Discourse System should be tied in coherence. There are 4 components that tie the cohesiveness in Discourse System. First is a cohesive device that has function to cover any aspect of language or context that a speaker can use to indicate connection among elements (Scollon, Scollon and Jones, 2012). Second is called as adjacency sequences, it is regular sequencing pattern that is learnt, predicted, and expected from a Discourse System. Third is prosodic patterning, which makes oral Discourse, become so oral by considering intonation and timing. The fourth component is conversational inference (Gumperz in Scollon, Scollon and Jones, 2012) that shape Discourse into logical or cognitive Structure. The analysis on coherence will be drawn below:

Cohesive Devices            : Lexical and Grammatical

Cohesive devices which will be discussed cover some components, namely Reference, Verb Form, Conjunction, and Causal Conjunction. Some references found in the dialogues emerge in Bahasa Indonesia. The reference ini found in speech act 1 until 4 refer to the same subject, kopi banjir. In the second speech act, the word ada is elliptically replacing the reference ini since the speaker using his finger pointing to the coffee.

                Giving information about Kopi Banjir Speech Event 1
Lintang Oh ini kopi banjir(Oh.. so it is called kopi banjir (flood Coffee) Speech Act 1
Yofan Ada dimalang?(Can you find it in Malang?) Speech Act 2
Lintang Ada, ini kan gaya French Press.(Yup, it is called French Press style). Speech Act 3
Arif La ini nanti kalo mau minum taruh bawah aja dibalik(If you want to drink, put it under) Speech Act 4

Reference used also found in Javanese, the word ngunu which means that in English refers to the word ceritamu (story).

Lintang Yak ceritamu, ceritamu(How is your story?) Speech Act 1
Yofan Hehe.. yo ngunu, di bully(hehe.. my story was about bullying) Speech Act 2

Since in Bahasa Indonesian and Javanese we do not have tense, there is no critical impact of the usage of verb form in the dialogue, we just add the tense by adding time signal such as kemarin (yesterday), besok (tomorrow), and others without any verb formation. Such us the word kemaren in speech act below refers to the examination which has been done previous weeks ago.

Arif Gak opo yo, lek yang, yang, opo, bu supik itu kan ngomong, jadi kan mas Arif, ini kan kemaren….(pause)(No, emm.. Bu Supik has said, “So, Mas Arif has got..(pause)


Conjunction found in the dialogue emerges in various languages such as English, Bahasa Indonesia, and Javanese. Such as the word mbek Arif uttered mean and. But the word mbek has multiple meaning, in some context it can be meant with.

Arif sing jenenge pak eko mbek pak imam ngguya ngguyu ae ndelok i aku(Pak Eko and Pak Imam just laughed aloud looked at me) The word mbek in this speech act means and and play as additive conjunction.
Arif yo nyanyi lagu metal iku, nyanyi mbek berok berok ngunu, guyon wong wong iku(I sung metal song, sung loudly, he joked me) The word mbek in this speech act means with and play as adverb.


Cognitive Schemata and Scripts: As a new comer, I failed in understanding the script of ngopi activity in kedai kopi cak wang. My world knowledge according to ngopi activity in kedai kopi (traditional coffee café) is different to the real script I had. Though the processes are the same, but they had some difference in sequential order as described here below:

Steps My Expectation based on my world knowledge The real Script I faced
I Find a seat I went to the cashier
I determine my order I determined my order
I let waiter to note my order I told the waiter about my order
I wait my order I paid my order
I receive my order I find a seat
I enjoy my order I wait my order
I pay my order I receive my order


Adjacency Sequences: Since the dialogues happen sporadic, it is hard to find the adjacency sequences in dialogue. The one can be figured out is in question mark expression. It is expected that answer comes up as question be raised, but sometimes the answer was postponed since there were speaker who jumped into another topic. The adjacency sequences in this dialogue are unpredictable since we do not have any fixed sequences. Although the sequences in this dialogue are unpredictable, but it is not influencing the degree of coherence massively though sometimes among speakers should confirming their understanding on each other utterances.

Prosodic Patterning        : Most of the mood of intonation and timing in the dialogue are in relaxed. Sometimes the intonation that stressing to some expression happen when the speakers quoting or recount their experience in facing their final examination. The intonation more tends to imitate rather that to express their personal feeling.


Speech Event in Jemberan speakers’ language contact

                Some speech event has been discussed in the previous discussion; some other will be discussed in the following discussion. Since speech events and speech act is the source of data, it will be attached to other discussion. Speech events in this conversation generally can be called as ngopi. It consists of several speech events such as the speech events of opening the meeting, recount the story and gossiping. The rest of speech events will be discussed in the discussion of Language use and choice.

Opening Ngopi Speech Event 1
Lintang Ayo!!, lapo awakmu beban kok entok A?.(C’mon,,!! How could getting A be a burden for you? Speech Act 1
Arif Gak opo yo, lek yang, yang, opo, bu supik itu kan ngomong, jadi kan mas Arif, ini kan kemaren….(pause)(No, emm.. Bu Supik has said, “So, Mas Arif has got..(pause) Speech Act 2
Lintang Oh ini kopi banjir(Oh.. so it is called kopi banjir (flood Coffee) Speech Act 3
Yofan Ada dimalang?(Can you find it in Malang?) Speech Act 4


The recording was recorded for about two months ago when I went home. I initiated the meeting to have some stories from my friends since they just finished their under graduate students for 7 years. Since it is informal meeting, everything flows without any definite sequence. Lintang was the first person who initiated to open ngopi activity by saying Ayo!! Lapo awakmu beban kok entok A. The exclamation Ayo means let’s talk your story about the final examination. For us, the graduation story is worthwhile to be heard. The second speech act was the response of Arif to the first questions, he started to tell his graduation story when my order came and I changed the topic from graduation to coffee. My comment to my coffee was responded by Yofan by asking Ada di Malang? (Can you find it in Malang?). The shifting topic happened when my order came and it became new topic to discuss since I found that kopi banjir was out of my expectation. I expected that kopi banjir should be more phenomenal than only the other name of coffee served with French press style.


                Face is considered as paradoxical concepts; it cannot solely meant by keeping the ‘honor’ or the effort of making assumption of speakers’ meaning by predicting their face made, another concept refers to face as the self manifestation of the speakers to be judged as their expectation through the face made. Face is intertwined on those concepts. Face in communication show two sides, involvement and independence. Since the participants are close friends, there is no independence strategies found in the dialogue. The involvement aspect of face is concerned with the persons’ right and need to be considered a normal, contributing, or supporting member society. Some strategies used in showing involvement by paying attention to others, show strong interest in the affairs, and using nick name or just name without any title such as mbak or mas. (in English they usually using first name to show intimacy). In my cases, people who just meet me usually call me by my first name Alies, when they feel comfort and pretty close with me, they will call me by my nick name, Lintang. In this dialogue all participants used given names/nick name to address each other.

Some strategies found in the dialogue according to involvement such as noticing and attending to the speakers shown by the rapid dialogue and some changing in small topic. It also found claim in group membership by the Javanese word awakdewe which means all of us (Table 1). Another strategy found is claim common opinion and attitude. When I told my story, both of my addresses claim my opinion and attitude toward my stories (Table 2).

Table 1.

Arif Asline, opo sing awakdewe entok dino iki iku, yo kelakuane awakdewe wingi wingi. Arif consider that what happens to him is a communal problem that also happens to us (I and Yofan).

Table 2.

Lintang intine semua pertanyaan bisa kujawab dengan baik, baringono wes maringono, pak karno takon, apa bedanya a, an, the dan tidak pake artikel(The point is I passed all the questions well until Pak Karno asked what are the differences among a, an, the and no article?) I told my story to my addresses that I thought I failed my exam because of the article question.
Yofan Hahahahhahha (Laughing loudly) Claim in my stupidity by laughing loud and consider that as a silly one rather than stupid.
Lintang lo gak ngerti ta lah aku lo, wes lali(I don’t know, I forgot) Confirming my stupidity
Arif Wes lali ta la, iku wes skip telong (3) semester koyok e yo,(Sure you forgot, it has been taught in 3rd semester I think) Claiming my stupidity as a common thing remembering that the lesson has been taught in the early semester and it is ok if I forgot it.



                This discussion will be started by classifying the topics occurred in the dialogue, there are 6 topics occurred in the dialogues;

  1. Arif’s story
  2. Yofan’s Story
  3. Lintang’s Story
  4. Gossiping

The shifting topic will influence the language use and choice. Some choices are using code switching and code mixing. The language use and choice determines the purpose of the speakers to stress their feeling of the story. They usually use English when they recount their story about their final examination, then shifted into Javanese or Indonesia when they started to gossiping. Some word and phrases used Madura or the equivalence reasons.

Data as the basis of discussion is served in tables below. The blue color indicates the usage of Javanese and the red one indicates the usage of English, while the black is the usage of Bahasa Indonesia. In the Topic 1 dialogue, Arif used some code switching to address some academic terms such as thesis and report. While in topic 2, we can see that Javanese used to commenting or responding the story while the speaker (Yofan) narrated his own story, while he used English when he recounted his story to simulate his real condition when face the examination. In topic 3, such previous pattern of the code switching used also found with the same purpose, to recount. The Javanese word used by Yofan showed solidarity to what I have experienced. For gossiping, the speakers tend to use Javanese and Bahasa Indonesia. In term of gossiping, speakers used Jemberan word such as Koen (acronym of Kowe/Javanese and Be’en/Madura). The rest speech events are uttered in code switching and mixing among Javanese, Jemberan, Madura and Bahasa Indonesia. Such as the word gengguk said by Arif that means trivial or unimportant, he thought that the word gengguk cannot be represented with any language. He also used English word Catchy to explain his reason of using the word gengguk instead of iseng.

Table. 3 . Shifting Topic in Dialogue

Topic 1 : Arif’s Story
Arif       : yo tang, jadi bu supik ngomong, ini kan kemarin sidang mas Arif dapet A, jadi mau gak mau segala bentuk report yang ada di thesis ini harus semuanya perfect, jareneLintang : Segala bentuk opoArif        : Segala bentuk reportLintang : Report?

Arif        : thesis ini kan report kan, hasil kan?. Jadi koyo penggunaan kata will itu di coret semua, di coret, trus opoan ada beberapa tadi sing tak benerin


Topic 2 : Yofan’s Story
Yofan    :yo, sing pertama langsung penguji 2 kan, penguji pertama aku pak sam, pas sam nguji dulu. hari jumat nyaLintang :oh sendiriYofan    :ditanya, iso gak eroh opo sing tak omong no koen.Nggak tau apa yang akan aku katakan pas di tanyain pertanyaan pertama, why do you choose this topic,   wes onok mbak, cuman akhire mbulet, ngomong ndek tengah, mandek, i.. i.. need more time to answer, aku di bantu sama bu riskia, di pancing pancing ngunu lo mbak, cek eleng aku, trus eleng aku wes. maringono gilirane bu indah penguji 3..di takoni, what is conjucntion, trus mintak contoh mbak, can you show me the example of the using of conjunction in target language, yes i can, i will give you the example mam, i have the sentence in appendix, nah appendix ku itu g ada halamannya mbak, may i say it mam, di buka halamannya, nah kalimatku itu di halaman belakang sendiri, nah yang dibuka bu indah itu halaman pertama, yang mana? katanya, you need to open the page mam, nda gelem mbak, ndak gelem .


Topic 3 : Lintang’s Story
Yofan    :Takon opo ae tapi?Lintang: Takon konsep, takon teori, takon sembarang kalir, sesuatu yang ketika bimbingan beliau tidak pernah ungkit, begitu di ruang sidang, ditakoni kuabeh dari awal sampe akhir. wes mari, jare pak karno, kan onok aqua nang ngarepku yo, sampek, misale, bener bener gak ono rehat iku, rehat iku gak ono, jadi misale bu mei nanya aku jawab, aku jawab bu mei nanya lagi, ngunu terus uncal uncalan, dan beliau sama sekali ga ngasih waktu sama yang lain, trus pas wes kate mari, kate takon meneh, mbek pak karno di potong, aku di kongkon ngombe disek, please drink your water, tak ombe,Yofan    : hahha, sakno (pity you)   à Javanese to Show solidarity Lintang : wes mari kan, di takoni mene mbek bu mei, srettt, aku cuman mikir ngene, wadoh rek, kok iso e, beliau kan pembimbingku ya, dari sekian banyak orang, kok malah beliau yang menghabisi, trus mari bu mei, bu supik takon, ngomong opo yo? bu supik ngomong i think bu mei has asked all the questions, i have nothing to ask.


Topic 4 : Gossiping 1
The dialogue was interrupted while Yofan recognized a sexy girl passed in front of us,Arif                         : Koen lak nggudoi iku, perkorone, ndek ranah pengadilan agamaYofan                    : wah..Lintang                                 :kok isok?

Yofan                    :Wes nikah..

Lintang                                 : Hah?

Yofan                    :Wes nikah berarti.

Lintang                 : Oh..

Topic 4 : Gossiping 2
Arif         :lak pas enak enak ngomong jowo nang jember, trus aku ngomong iseng, aneh tang dadine,Lintang :iseng iku gengguk iku?Lintang: Jadi tujuane karena kebiasaan atau?Arif         : koyok kegiatane ibu ibu rasan rasan iku jenenge kegiatan gengguk.

Lintang : Seandainya kamu ke malang atau ke surabaya masih menggunakan kata gengguk atau tidak?

Arif         : koyok e se sek tak gawe dan bakalan ditanyain artinya apa

Lintang : trus kenapa? karna tidak sadar atau sengaja?

Arif         : tidak sadar koyok e, soale lak aku ngomong nang omah iku gae bahasa indonesia mbek wong tuwoku mbek adekku iku gawe bahasa indonesia, cuman di beberapa diksi, tetep meduro, kata kata meduro, mungkin karna catchy yo bagi keluargaku, kata kata



This study comes up with some questions; Which languages are used in language contact, Javanese, Indonesia, Madura or English?; What is the language choices found in the conversation?; What are the motives behind the language use and choice?; What is the influence of social factors on the language use and language choice?

From the discussion above, I can draw a conclusion for answering every questions. Most of language used in dialogue is Jemberan such as the usage of koen and awakdewe refers to pronoun you and us. Javanese also used in the dialogue, but it is hard to recognize it as high or low Javanese, so I prefer to call it as Jember Javanese. Bahasa Indonesia also mostly used in dialogue and also English. Some motives found of the usage the language choice by code switching and code mixing, the topic shifting signalize the shifting of language. For instance, if the speakers recounted their story, they tended to use Bahasa Indonesia, while they tried to quote and imitate their lecturers they would choose Bahasa Indonesia or English. And when the topic shift into commenting or gossiping, they tended to use Jember Javanesse, in some cases, Jember Javanesse also used to show solidarity. Some influence factors influencing language use and choice relied on the participants’ background, since three of them are powering English for educational purposes, they used it to recounted and simulated their story which was uttered in English, in this term language has fulfilled its function to convey information. Jember Javanesse and Bahasa Indonesia is their social and cultural background, they use both languages on the daily basis. It is the reason why they feel more comfortable to use Jember Javanese and Indonesia Javanese to express relationship.


Duranti, Alessandro. (2004). A Companion to Linguistic Anthropology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, Ltd.

Lintangsari, Alies. (2012). How Jember- Javanese speakers represent their world. On college assignment.

Lintangsari, Alies. (2014). Code-Switching as a Conversational Strategy in Jemberan Multilingual Conversation. On college assignment

Meyerhoff, Miri. (2006). Introducing Sociolinguistics. London and New York: Routledge.

Prawiroatmodjo, S.1985. Bausastra Jawa—Indonesia I. Jakarta: Gunung Agung.

Scollon, Scollon, & Jones. (2012). Intercultural Communication: A Discourse Approach 3rd Edition. Wiley Blackwell

Wardhaugh, Ronald. (2003). An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. 5th Ed. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Yuswadi, Harry. 2005. Melawan Demi Kesejahteraan, Perlawanan Petani Jeruk terhadap Kebijakan

Pembangunan Pertanian. Jember: Kompyawisda.


(Kutipan referensi/citation: Jurnal Linguistik terapan Vol 3/1, Mei 2013)

Andi Muhtar

Universitas Negeri Malang



There are three theories of meaning, namely, the mentalistic theory, the behaviorist theory, and the use theory. Criticisms, which are given to show dislikes toward another person’s or other people’s actions/utterances, contain meanings. Criticisms in Mr. Pecut’s corner, which appear in the form of responses to statements made by public figures, are bitter but, by and large, humorous. This article will analyze the criticisms in Mr. Pecut’s corner of Jawa Pos daily newspaper and relate them with theories of meaning in linguistic philosophy.

Keywords: philosophy of language, theories of meaning, criticism


When a person communicates, he communicates meaning by realizing it through phonological representations. What is communicated is then accepted by the listener or the interlocutor in the form of phonological representations and then changed into semantic representations. Based on the meaning understood, the listener may respond back to the message. In this case the two people exchange messages or meanings. The messages communicated are of various kinds. Likewise, the responses given are various, one of the kinds of which is criticisms. This paper will analyze the criticisms which are found in Jawa Pos daily newspaper, especially those found in Mr. Pecut’s corner of the paper.



According to Cooper (1973: 14-16), there are three theories of meaning in the philosophy of language. The first is the mentalistic theory. This theory holds that an expression is meaningful if and only if it is associated, in some manner, with a certain mental item – an image, say, or thought, or an idea. Correspondingly, the theory holds that two expressions are synonymous if and only if they are associated with the same mental item. So, for example, it might be held that ‘puppy’ is meaningful because it is connected with a certain mental image; and that ‘puppy’ is synonymous with ‘young dog’ because both are connected with the same image. On this view to examine meaning is essentially to examine people’s mental states or processes.

The second is the behaviorist theory. This theory holds that an expression is meaningful if and only if utterances of it produce certain behavioral responses in people and/or are produced in response to certain stimuli. Two expressions will be synonymous, correspondingly, if and only if utterances of them produce the same responses and/or are produced in response to the same stimuli. On this view, examining meaning is essentially a matter of examining the behavior connected with utterances of expressions.

The third is the use theory. This theory holds that an expression is meaningful if and only if people can use it for certain purposes, and in certain ways. Two expressions, correspondingly, will be synonymous if and only if they can be used in the same ways, for the same purposes. On this view, examining meaning is essentially a matter of examining the role that expressions have in human activities.



Lehmann (1983: 217-224) discusses five types of language use. Each of the types is explained below.


The Politician’s Use of Language

Political use of language is often highly ambiguous. Politicians flourish by devising Expressions that their audiences interpret as favorable to themselves. An example of this ambiguity use of language is given be Lehmann (1983: 217) as follows:

According to Herodotus, when Croesus, King of Lydia, asked the oracle at Delphi whether he should attack the Persians, the oracle answered ambiguously, that if he did he would destroy a great empire. Croesus, as a confident ruler, misinterpreted the reply. The attack resulted in the destruction of his own empire rather than that of the Persians.


The Poet’s Use

While the politician seeks ambiguous language, the poet aims at precision. For Pope in his “Essay on Criticism”:


True wit is Nature to advantage dressed,

What off was thought, but ne’er so well expressed.


Ambiguous and meaningless words are avoided. A poet has a specific concept; the poem is designed to have the reader understand this directly, as though images. Pope does not say: an actual insight corresponds to reality in the world; rather, he directly confronts two concepts presented in concrete images with nature.


The Scientist’s Use

Scientists also insist on precision in use of language. But they emphasize facts, not people and their feelings. Moreover, the facts must speak for themselves. Ideas are not to be conveyed through images or affected by human origins. Even living beings are stripped of their animation, including the scientists themselves. These aims lead to characteristic scientific styles of expression.


The Priest’s Use

The priest on the other hand employs many pragmatic devices, directing his message to a specific audience. This aim encourages patterns comparable to the poet’s. Sequences are repeated, often exactly, as in Matthew 5:7-9:


Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called

The children of God….


The repetitions engage the attention of the audience, as well as their participation, through established sequences, such as amen; hallelujah; Glory, glory, hallelujah. The priest raises emotions, though with somewhat different aims and devices from those of the poet.


The Average Speaker’s Use

Few of us use language as effectively as the consummate poet, politician, scientist, or priest; yet we employ the same devices as they, and we apply language in accordance with their various purposes.



Criticism is the expression of disapproval of someone or something by stating an opinion on their faults, weaknesses, or disadvantages in speech or writing (Collins Cobuild English Language Dictionary, 1987: 336). Criticism can be divided into two kinds. The first is direct criticism. This criticism is given directly by the critic to the criticized. The second is indirect criticism. This kind of criticism is directed to the criticized, but it is given publicly through mass media. The target of criticisms is either an individual or an institution, or both an individual and an institution.

mr pecut

Mr. Pecut

Mr. Pecut is the name of a rubric in Jawa Pos daily newspaper. It is situated in the upper-left-hand corner of page four. Under the title Mr Pecut there is a picture of a person covering his two ears using his index fingers. The word pecut, which means a whip, is very suitable with the function of the criticisms. Criticisms are expressions which are not nice to our ears although they are actually useful in that they make us aware of our mistakes. Mr. Pecut will always remind us to always behave well. In each issue Mr. Pecut highlights three pieces of news and gives three comments or criticisms.

Although most of the criticisms are bitter, they are always communicated in humorous ways. The humor sense appears because of the evidence of the unexpected twist of the comment or criticism in response to the news. Tresnadewi (2005: 20) states that “What makes people laugh at a joke is usually the unexpected twist at the end of the joke.” Similarly, what makes a criticism humorous is the unexpected twist of the comment.

Let’s read the example below:


Pollycarpus divonis 14 tahun penjara.

(Pollycarpus was sentenced of 14 years imprisonment)


Dan tanpa ditemani pramugari

(And without being accompanied by stewardesses).


To understand the sense of humor in this statement-and-comment pair, we have to understand the background of the statement or the news. Pollycarpus was a pilot of Garuda Indonesian Airlines. The sentence was imposed because he was accused of murdering a well-known human rights activist Munir. Munir died, according to a laboratory report in the Netherlands, because of arcenicum poison which, according to the judge, was poured by Pollycarpus into Munir’s glass. Munir died while he was on the plane taking him from Singapore to the Netherlands. Because he was a pilot, he must have had a lot of friends who are stewardesses. However, the stewardesses would not accompany him in prison. Clearly, the comment is unexpected.




The data were chosen randomly from Jawa Pos daily newspaper available. Criticisms in Mr. Pecut’s corner can be classified into five types: authority-directed, individual-directed, illogical, humorous, and common. In the following section, criticisms in the form of single sentences are explained. Explaining a sentence is part of philosophy, as stated by the Australian positivist philosopher, Schlick, as follows: “philosophy is an activity through which the meanings of statements is asserted or explained.”


Authority-directed Criticisms

  1. Tahun depan akan ada gelar kota terkotor.

(Next year there will be an evaluation in terms of the dirtiest towns)


Pasti kota yang banyak koruptornya

(They must be towns with the most corruptors)


We expect that the comment will deal with efforts used to make cities free from garbage. The comment is really unexpected because it talks about corruptors, those who abuse the authority given to them. The critic regards corruptors as something which dirties towns.


  1. Hermawan Kertajaya: Kepala daerah adalah pemasar.

(Hermawan Kertajaya: Heads of districts are marketing people)


Tapi, sebelumnya adalah pembeli, pembeli suara

(But, previously they were buyers, buyers of votes).


The news implies that Heads of districts should promote their districts in order that more businessmen invest their capital in the areas. In other words, they must ‘sell’ their areas.

The critic reminds us that the Heads of Local Governments bought votes in order to become Heads of Local Governments. This is what is called ‘money politics’. This accusation is not easy to prove, however.


  1. Rapat paripurna setelah Lebaran, separo lebih anggota dewan bolos.

(General Meeting (of the House of Representatives) was held after Idul Fitri break; more than half of the members were absent)

Meski Lebaran, kelakuan ini tidak perlu dimaafkan.

(Despite Lebaran (Holiday atmosphere), this attitude cannot be forgiven!)


The news implies that members of the House of Representatives are not responsible because they did not do what they should have done namely attending meeting. They may have though that they might be excused or forgiven because it was still holiday atmosphere.

The response or criticism says that the members’ attitude should not be forgiven. Working for other people must be prioritized.


  1. Noordin M. Top pernah sembunyi dekat markas Polwil Pekalongan.

(Noordin M. Top, once, hid near the Head Quarter of Police District in Pekalongan.)


Dan terbukti aman

(And they were proved to be save)


The news shocks us because Noordin is a number-two wanted person and he hid near the police station.

The response saying that he was safe shows that the police are not very sensitive to their environment.


  1. Penyimpangan keimigrasian dinilai sangat serius.

(The immigration anomaly is evaluated to be very serious)

Begitu seriusnya, sampai sudah jadi kewajara …

(It is so serious that it has become a common place)


The response shows that it seems hopeless to return the situation into a normal one. It indirectly suggests that this situation cannot be tolerated any longer.


  1. Kepala BIN: Teroris berencana culik pejabat.

(Head of National Intelligence Body: Terrorists plan to abduct officials of high ranks)

Kalau pejabat yang korup, silakan!

(If they are corrupting ones, please do!)


It is the duty of the police to protect officials of high ranks. However, if the officials are those who corrupt, the police should not protect them. Let them be abducted by the terrorists.


  1. Ketua DPR kecewa kunjungan BURT ke Mesir.

(Chair of the House of Representatives is disappointed with the visit of BURT (the Body of Logistic Affairs) to Egypt).


Mestinya ngelencer ke mana, dong?

(Where should they have gone for a vacation, then?)


The news implies that BURT should not have gone to Egypt. The visit is in vain. The response implies that it is alright to go for a vacation although it actually supports the Chair.


  1. Parpol dan DPR lembaga terkorup di Indonesia.

(Political parties and the House of Representatives are institutions which are the most corrupt in Indonesia)


Lembaga lain, lumayan korup …

(Other institutions are not very corrupt)


The response shows that corruptions also take place in other institutions though not the worst.


  1. Pimpinan DPR: Kunjungan anggota BURT ke Mesir sudah sesuai rencana.

(Heads of House of Representatives: The visit of the members of BURT to Egypt has been in accordance with the plan)


Rencananya memang mau ngelencer, kok!

(The plan was that they wanted to go for a vacation!)


The plan was to meet members of the House of Representatives of Egypt in order to know how Egypt deals with laws concerning gambling. The response shows that the main objective of visiting Egypt was having a vacation.

  1. Rencana impor beras Januari dibatalkan.

(The plan to import rice in January has been dropped).


Itu yang resmi, yang nggak resmi jalan terus …

(That is what is legal, the illegal is going on)


The response shows the weakness of the government because the policy is not carried out perfectly. The authority does not seem to do anything to prevent the influx of rice illegally)


  1. Usman Hamid: Kasus Munir, Polri belum serius.

(Usman Hamid: Munir case, the Police have not been serious)


Takut barangkali …

(They may be afraid …)


The criticism says that the police are afraid. The police should be serious in fighting crime whatever the risk they may find. They should not be afraid. They are paid to protect the citizens, aren’t they?


  1. Parpol ramai-ramai berkurban sapi dan kambing.

(Political parties sacrifice cows and sheep demonstratively)


Setahun sekali, bukan rakyat yang dikorbankan.

(Once a year, it is not people who are sacrificed)


The response shows that political parties usually take advantage of their positions while making the people victims.


  1. Masa kerja KPU diperpanjang.

(The working term of KPU (General Election

Committee) is lengthened.)


Wah, bisa korupsi lagi, dong?

(Then, they can commit corruption again?)

The response implies that KPU is the place where corruptions often take place and are not detected. This is actually also a warning that the police should be alert toward wrongdoings done by those given authority to carry out government matters.


Individual-directed criticisms

  1. Puluhan dokter di Kediri tak punya izin praktek.

(Tens of doctors in Kediri do not have permission letter.)


Nggak beda dong, dengan dukun!

(Not different from astrologers, then!)


The response implies that doctors are jobs which need proficiency and professionalism. They have to obtain a certificate from the government before they treat patients. Otherwise, they are the same as astrologers.


  1. Akbar: Kalla jangan ceplas-ceplos.

(Akbar: Kalla, don’t speak without evidence.)


Kalau ngak begitu, nggak ngetop, Bung!

(If I don’t, I won’t become a celebrity, Friend!)


Akbar’s advice is wise, that is, Kalla should think first before he speaks. The comment implies that it is by speaking whatever is in his mind that makes Kalla popular.


  1. Djoko Edhi: Kunjungan BURT ke Mesir sia-sia

(Djoko Edhi: The visit of BURT to Egypt was in vain)


Kunjungannya sis-sia, tetapi ngelencer-nya tidak.

(The visit was in vain, but the vacation was not.)


Edhi’s statement implies that he was disappointed with his visit. The response implies that he was not disappointed because he had the opportunity to go abroad and have a vacation with some of the members of the House of Representatives.

  1. Paskah Suzzeta: Jadi menteri, bobot turun 3 kilo.

(Paskah Suzzeta: Becoming a minister, his weight drops 3 kilograms)


Jangan kuatir, toh bobot kantong nambah!

(Don’t worry. The weight of the pocket increases, doesn’t it?)


Suzetta’s statement implies that because he has to work hard as a minister, he loses weight, which means that something he does not want happens. The comment however, reminds him that he is richer now!


  1. Amien: Lawan koruptor sejati butuh keberanian

(Amien: To fight against true corruptors needs courage)


Sebenarnya butuh Pak Amien, gitu loh.

(Actually, Mr. Amien is needed. That’s it.)


The statement implies that Mr. Amien is a courageous man. The comment implies that people should choose Mr. Amen to fight the crime of corruption because he is brave. It sounds that Mr. Amien is disappointed for not being chosen as president the last presidential election.


Illogical criticism

  1. Diusulkan ada tempat penitipan anak di DPR.

(Proposed: There is a crèche in the House of



Lama-lama bakal ada usul penitipan WIL, nih!

(Slowly but surely, there will be a proposal for a crèche for WIL (Other Adored Women), right?


The proposal in the statement was made in  conjunction with the increasing bad treatment to children by their family. It is Illogical to set up a crèche in the House of Representatives. Responding to the illogical proposal, the critic also proposes a more illogical proposal, that is, having a crèche for Other Adored Women, who are likely possessed by some members of the House of Representatives.


  1. Golkar gelar donor darah masal.

(Golkar held mass blood donation)


Darahnya pasti kuning!

The blood must he yellow!


The response that the blood is yellow is wrong.

However, because Golkar is synonymous with yellow, the color of the flag, people will remember that the community service is worth doing.


Humorous criticisms

  1. SBY perintahkan Kapolri ungkap dalang pembunuh Munir.

(SBY ordered the Chief of the Police to reveal the mastermind behind Munir murder)


Yang jelas bukan Pak Manteb!

(Obviously, he is not Mr. Manteb!)


The statement uses the word dalang a person who performs leather puppets, and Mr. Manteb is a dalang. However, dalang in the statement is different from what the profession of Mr. Manteb is. Dalang in the statement refers to the person who is most responsible for the Munir murder; it does not have anything to do with the show of leather puppets.


  1. Kepala Bea Cukai Manado terlibat penyelundupan HP.

(Head of Customs in Manado is involved in HP smuggling)


Ketik A (spasi) copot saja!

(Type A (space) dismiss him. That’s all!)


The way the response is written is unique. The type of writing the response resembles that of sending answers to TV quizzes. However, the content is very firm and direct.


  1. Pimpinan Jemaah Eden mengaku sebagai Malaikat Jibril.

(Head of Eden Congregation acknowledges that she is Angel Gabriel).


Malaikat kok digerebek …

(Angel, but how could she be attacked?)


Angel belongs to creatures who cannot be touched. If she were an Angel, the police would not have been able to catch her!


Common criticisms

  1. Bentrok antarmahasiswa terjadi lagi di Makassar.

(A brawl among university students broke again in Makassar)


Status mahasiswa, otak masih TK!

(The status is university student, the brain is still kindergarten!)


It is a shame that university students are involved in a fight using physical strengths, not intellectual power. Their brain is the brain of kindergarten pupils!


  1. Bantuan langsung tunai tahap kedua diperkirakan tertunda.

(It is predicted that the second phase of direct aid will be delayed.)


Berarti keruwetan tahap kedua masih agak lama.

(It means that irregularities of the second phase are still relatively long to come.)


It implies that we did not anticipate problems arising out of the new policy. The problems will happen again in the future.





Indirect criticisms which appear in the rubric Mr. Pecut of Jawa Pos daily newspaper are very concise and direct in their efforts to change people’s behavior. The criticisms can be classified as authority directed, individual directed, illogical, humorous and common. In one of his opinions, Mochtar Lubis, a well-known Indonesian laureate, says that ‘no criticism is bad’. Therefore, we must be open to criticisms if we want to maintain our loyalty to truth and justice. Related to diversity in language use which is discussed by Lehmann, we propose one more type, namely, the critic’s use of language.




Collins Cobuild English Language Dictionary. 1987. London: Harper Collins Publishers.

Cooper, David E. 1973. Philosophy and the Nature of Language. London: Longman.

Jawa Pos daily newspaper.

Lehmann, Winfred P. 1983. Language: An Introduction. New York: Random House.

Tresnadewi, Sintha. 2005. Jokes: The Twisting of the Theories of Meaning. In Syahri and Tresnadewi (Eds.) The Power of Meaning. Malang: Syahri Press.








Data sources


  1. 18 June 2005
  • Tahun depan akan ada gelar kota terkotor

Pasti kota yang banyak koruptornya.

  • Pengacara Hendropriyono menilai undangan TPF Munir tidak sopan.

Padahal, tak menyebut hantu beliau ..

  • Hermawan Kertajaya: Kepala daerah adalah pemasar.

Tapi, sebelumnya adalah pembeli, pembeli suara.


  1. 15 November 2005
  • Rapat paripurna setelah Lebaran, separo lebih anggota dewan bolos.

Meski Lebaran, kelakuan ini tidak perlu dimaafkan!

  • Bungker di Bojonegoro ternyata milik lembaga Javanologi.

Wah, bisa kualat kalau dibongkar!

  • Noordin M. Top pernah sembunyi dekat markas Polwil Pekalongan.

Dan terbukti aman.


  1. 19 November 2005
  • Burhanuddin: Serahkan Kalla, reshuffle pasti segera beres.

Wah, bisa-bisa jadi kabinet Golkar!

  • Bantuan langsung tunai tahap kedua diperkirakan tertunda.

Berarti keruwetan tahap kedua masih agaklama …

  • Puluhan dokter di Kediri tak punya izin praktik.

Nggak beda dong, dengan dukun!


  1. 20 December 2005
  • Mega yakin Pemilu 2009 PDIP kalahkan Golkar.

Caranya, bikin posko yang banyak!

  • Penyimpangan keimigrasian dinilai sangat serius.

Begitu seriusnya, sampai sudah jadi kewajaran …

  • SBY: Kita harus menjadi the winner, bukanthe looser.

Sudah Pak, khususnya untuk urusan korupsi!



  1. 21 December 2005
  • Kepala BIN: Teroris berencana culik pejabat.

Kalau pejabat yang korup, silakan!

  • Ketua DPR kecewa kunjungan BURT ke Mesir.

Mestinya ngelencer ke mana, dong?

  • Akbar: Kalla jangan ceplas-ceplos.

Kalau nggak begitu, nggak ngetop, Bung!


  1. 22 December 2005
  • Djoko Edhi: Kunjungan BURT ke Mesir sia-sia.

Kunjungannya sia-sia, tapi ngelencernya tidak.

  • Pollycarpus divonis 14 tahun penjara.

Dan tanpa ditemani pramugari.

  • SBY perintahkan Kapolri ungkap dalang pembunuh Munir.

Yang jelas bukan Pak Manteb!


  1. 23 December 2005
  • BIN juga diperintah presiden tuntaskan kasus Munir.

Kalau nggak bisa, ya kebangetan!

  • Jika tak hati-hati, diprediksikan 2006 kredibilitas SBY-Kalla bisa jatuh.

Jika mau hati-hati, ya agak lama dikitlah …

  • Aa Gym rekrut 1.000 mantan anggota GAM.

Sekarang boleh dipanggil Aa GAM!


  1. 24 December 2005
  • Kasat Narkoba Polres Sumbawa mati overdosis.

Benar-benar narkoba makan tuan!

  • Kasus Munir, SBY minta Kapolri serius ungkap pelaku lain.

Pelakunya sedang serius berusaha agar tidak terungkap.

  • Parpol dan DPR lembaga terkorup di Indonesia.

Lembaga lain, lumayan korup …


  1. 27 December 2005
  • Pimpinan DPR: Kunjungan anggota BURTke Mesir sudah sesuai rencana.

Rencananya memang mau ngelencer, kok!

  • Paskah Suzzeta: Jadi menteri, bobot turun3 kilo.

Jangan kuatir, toh bobot kantong nambah!

  • Pollycarpus mengajak tiga anaknya surati SBY.

Mbok ya SMS saja …


  1. 28 December 2005
  • Pramono Anung: Saat ini PDIP sedangsolid-solidnya.

Buktinya, pada keluar sama-sama dan bikinpartai baru!

  • Manipulasi pulsa, Telkomkebobolan triliunan rupiah.

Bisa jadi alasan untuk naikkan tarif, nih!

  • Prihatin judi, Rhoma Irama temui Kapolri.

Judi No! Dangdut Yes!


  1. 29 December 2005
  • Rencana impor beras Januari dibatalkan.

Itu yang resmi, yang nggak resmi jalan terus…

  • Usman Hamid: Kasus Munir, Polri belum serius.

Takut barangkali…

  • Kepala Bea Cukai Manado terlibat penyelundupan HP.

Ketik A (spasi) copot saja!


  1. 30 December 2005
  • Alasan berobat, Tommy Soeharto ke Jakarta lagi.

Ah, paling juga mau tahun baruan!

  • Good Governance, Indonesia terendah di Asia.

Good… Good… Good…!

  • Pimpinan Jemaah Eden mengaku sebagai Malaikat Jibril.

Malaikat kok digerebek …


  1. 9 January 2006
  • Gus Dur: Soros sekarang beda dengan yang dulu…

Iya, dulu George yang bikin soro (sengsara)…

  • Di Malang, seorang pemancing tewas tertimbun tanah longsor.

Bencana kok rutin…


  • KRHN: 95 persen hakim agung tak layak.

5 persen sisanya di bawah standar, ya?


  1. 10 January 2006
  • Penggantian pimpinan TNI, 11 panglima minta tidak dipolitisasi.

Ah, mana mungkin?

  • Ketua PC NU Jember: Jangan tutupi penyebab banjir.

Toh penyebabnya sudah jelas: Air!

  • Menteri Kehutanan: Hutan lindung di Jawa kritis.

Nggak bias buat sembunyi penjahatnya Unyil lagi…


  1. 11 January 2006
  • Palsukan faktur pajak, tiga petugas pajakdiperiksa.

Yang belum ketahuan masih serombongan!

  • Kasus bom Palu masih gelap.

Semoga tidak habis gelap terbit bom lagi!

  • Parpol ramai-ramai berkurbansapi dankambing.

Setahun sekali, bukan rakyat yang dikorbankan.


  1. 13 January 2006
  • Denny lndrayana: Korupsi sudah masuk kejahatan luar biasa.

Yang ditangkap yang kelas biasa-biasa saja…

  • Diusulkan ada tempat penitipan anak di DPR.

Lama-lama bakal ada usul penitipan WIL, nih!

  • Ketua DPR dinilai kurang tegas menyikapi impor beras.

Kalau tegas, ya bukan ketua DPR, dong!


  1. 31 December 2005
  • Prediksi 2006, Kamtibmas berat, tapi kondusif.

Jangan-jangan, kondusif juga buat teroris?

  • BLT tahap II mulai 2 Januari.

Selamat datang kaum miskin baru!

  • Golkar gelar donor darah masal.

Darahnya pasti kuning!



  1. 2 January 2006
  • Pelaku bom Palu konon teroris lama.

Lama atau baru yang jelas harus ditangkap!

  • Amien: Lawan koruptor sejati butuh keberanian.

Sebenarnya butuh Pak Amien, gitu loh…

  • Garuda maskapai terlemah di Asia.

Wah, nomor satu lagi kita…


  1. 3 January 2006
  • Ketua MPR minta SBY evaluasi kinerja BIN.

Kalau perlu, ya di-reshuffle saja!

  • Pembayaran BLT tahap II dimulai.

Musim kaum kere berebut lagi…

  • Kasus formalin dinilai karena keteledoranpemerintah.

Dan kelihaian tukang bakso!


  1. 4 January 2006
  • Longsor dan banjir bandang Ianda Jember.

Tahun baru, bencana baru…

  • Solidaritas longsor Jember, pimpinan MPR-DPR potong gaji.

Kok cuma pimpinan, anggotanya mana, dong?

  • BPOM janji tindak tegas penyalahgunaan formalin.

Baru sekarang. Kemarin-kemarin ke mana?


  1. 5 January 2006
  • Kontras: Polisi peringkat kesatu pelaku tindak kekerasan.

Dan paling sering lolos…

  • Amien: Sutanto capres kuat 2009 mendatang.

Pak Amien sendiri masih kuat nggak?

  • Penulisan sejarah G 30 S PKI berjalan alot.

Minta petunjuk Pak Harto, dong!


  1. 6 January 2006
  • Bentrok antarmahasiswa terjadi lagi di Makassar.

Status mahasiswa, otak masih TK!

  • Tujuh wilayah rawan bencana karena cuaca buruk.

Tapi yang pasti, karena nasib buruk…


  • SBY: Inflasi 2005 lebih baik dari 1966.

Korupsinya juga jauh lebih hebat!


  1. 7 January 2006
  • Direktur LBH: Hak perempuan masih diabaikan.

Maklum, masih dijajah pria sejak dulu…

  • Masa kerja KPU diperpanjang.

Wah, bisa korupsi lagi, dong?

  • DPR pastikan tolak impor beras.

Mending impor beras, daripada ngelencernggak jelas!


Kun Mustain

State Polytechnic of Malang



In communication, people care for politeness in their speech so as to successfully communicate the meaning they want to express. This article starts the discussion from speech function and then goes to the one on politeness theories in communication. From the speech functions section, the writer discussion several types of speech function provided with Indonesian language examples. One of the most popular theories on the speech and communication is Gricean maxims, i.e. quantity, quality, relation, and manner maxims. Basing the discussion on this theory, the writer discusses how politeness is achieved in Indonesian language communication.


Key-words: Gricean maxims, politeness, language, speech function



What differs, human being from animal is the language. Human language is spoken, creative and developed, but animal language is not. Even when an animal can speak, like cockatoo, its language is hardly developed. The language of a normal person always develops as he/she grows older. Chomsky in Brown (2000: 24), believes that human being is endowed by God with an innate capacity of language that enables him/her to improve the linguistic mastery in a short time. The natural capacity is embodied in a “little black box” called language acquisition device (LAD). Therefore, a human being can adapt his/her language to the context where the language is being used and to the audience with whom s/he is conversing.

The development of human language encourages many experts to study it more thoroughly. One of the branches of linguistic study is sociolinguistics in which we relate language to the community speaking the language. A sociolinguist is interested in explaining why we speech differently in different social context and he/she is concerned with two things, namely:

1) identifying the social functions of language

2) the ways it is  used to convey social meaning.

This paper, however, will deal with a more specific discussion in the speech functions. In this case, the discussion will be focused on the question “what are speech functions?” and “How should one show politeness in the Indonesian language?”.  The examples will be shown in this paper will be taken from Indonesian language.



Language has a wider sense than speech because language refers to speaking, writing and gesturing. We, for instance, recognize spoken language, written language, body language and gestural communications of the deaf and dumb etc. Linguistics only deals with spoken language (speech) and written language.

While speech is always spoken language, Robins (19891: 78) defines speech as follows:

“one human being, by movements beginning at his diaphragm and involving ‘various parts of his chest, throat, mouth, and nasal passages creates disturbances in the air around him, which within a limited distances  from  him  have  a  perceptible effect on the ear-drums and through them on the brains of other people, and the hearer can,   if  they belong  to the  same



language community, respond to these disturbance, or noises, and find them meaningful”.


In general linguistics, speech can be studied in phonetics and pronunciation. In sociolinguistics, it is related to the culture of community where the speech is produced and functional and it called that speech functions. In this case, body language may involve.



Language serves a range of functions. It is usually adjusted the speech to suit the social context of speech. The language we talk to a child may be different from the language we talk to our customer or colleague though the purpose is the same. The different purposes of talk can also affect the form of language and the variety of ways.  Why do we say the same thing in different ways? The answers to the question basically imply the speech functions.

Cripper and Widdowson in Allen and Corder (ed.) (1975:195) divides speech function into seven classifications. They are the referential, the expressive (or emotive), directive (or conative), phatic (contact), contextual, metalinguistic and poetic. In line with the three functions, they explain more that the referential function relates to topic, the expressive to addresser, and the directive to addressee.  Phatic or contact function refers to psychological link between addresser and addressee. Contextual function often serves to give formal notice of a set of conditions which best to certain rights and impose certain obligations on the participants in the speech event. Metalinguistic function has the principal purpose of ensuring the addressee to understand the meaning of a certain code used by the addresser. While poetic function serves a play upon words and sounds.

Holmes (1992:286) classifies speech functions into six categories, namely expressive, directive, referential, metalinguistic, poetic and phatic. The six speech functions will be connected to the principle of politeness in Indonesian communication and will be discussed successively in section III.





Politeness is universal, but the way to show politeness is culturally bound. Besides linguistic factors, there is non-linguistic factor considered to be influencing the process of communication, namely politeness. Politeness is much more influenced by sociocultural aspects of the speaker. In the process of communication, both speaker and addresser are obliged to follow the cooperative principles, even when what s/he means is not uttered explicitly. Grice (1975) suggests four maxims called cooperative principles. They are quantity, quality, relation, and manner.

Quantity maxim suggests us to make our contribution as informative as it is required for current purpose of the exchange. Domination of conversation is not allowed in this case. This maxim also offers us not to make our contribution more informative than is required. We do not need to have exaggerated description of something or otherwise we will be called the big mouth. Below is a very short account of the maxims.

Maxim of quality teaches us not to say what we believe to be false. It means that both speaker and the receiver is not allowed to tell a lie. In this case, we are also ordered not to say for which we lack of adequate evidences. Relation maxim suggests us to be relevant, meaning that what we talk about must be relevant to the topic we are discussing. We do not need to go far from the track. Manner maxim implies that what we talk about must be clear. Grice (1975) divides this maxim into four items 1) avoid obscurity, 2) avoid ambiguity, 3) be brief, and 4) be orderly.

Besides the four cooperative principles of communication discussed above, we still need to see some other principles that fundamentally influence the process of communication. Lakoff (in Cook, 1989) offers three principles of politeness in communication, namely: 1) don’t impose, 2) give option, and 3) make your receiver feel good.

One of the communicative strategies-commonly done by a speaker to sustain the social interaction indirect expression. In our daily conversation, we may see someone reminding his/her student who is wearing wet raincoat in the class by saying “John, why have you got the wet raincoat on inside?”. This indirect expression, in fact, implies command. The teacher wants John to put off the raincoat in indirect command.  The indirectness of the speech shows that the teacher tries to be polite to his/her student in spite of the age difference.

Politeness takes very important role in maintaining social relationship between speaker and someone he/she is speaking to. The complexity is not only caused by linguistic factors, but also non-linguistic factors. A speaker does not only choose an appropriate grammatical formula and diction, he also has to consider the cultural value associated with the expression he/she performs. Hudson (1980) suggests that role relationship factors, age, and social stratification take a definitely important role in social interaction.

The factor of role relationship in a social interaction is considered to be very important. An employee, for example, has to consider the communicative strategy when he/she is speaking to his boss; a student, when he/she is talking to hi/her teacher must consider the communicative strategy too. The communicative strategy used by a child to the parents, on the other hand, is different from the one used by two friends because the role of the participants are different. In Indonesia when an employee is talking to his/her  boss, the choice of appropriate expression is not sufficient, he sometimes has to use body language to show his/her respect by ducking down his/her head. This kind of salutation, even, becomes one of Javanese attitudes of life (De Jong, 1984), especially to the one who has higher social status such as local leader or religious leader.

Age can become an important factor in the process of communication. A child, for example, is not polite to use direct order to someone older than his/her. When a child wants his/her mother to do something for him/her, an interrogative sentence will be considered more polite. For example:

1) “Bisakah ibu membawakan tas ini?”

(Could you bring this bag, mom?)

2) “Bu, tolong bawakan tas ini”

 (Mom, please bring this bag ).

3) “Bu, bawakan tas ini”

( Mom, bring this bag)


The expression (1) is generally considered more polite and more formal than the (2). The sentence (2), to some extent, is normally used by a child to his/her mother in Indonesia. Grammatically, sentence (3) is not wrong as a form of command but pragmatically it is not appropriate to convey an order to an older person. The difference of age urges a younger speaker to choose the accurate expression to keep up the relationship in social interaction.

Social stratification determines the form of daily speech. In Javanese community, we recognize three speech levels, namely ngoko, krama madya and krama inggil (Geertz, 1977) and Poedjosudarmo  in Rahardi (2001:58) offers more detailed classifications. Ngoko, for instance, is divided into basa antya, antya basa and ngoko lugu , krama madya is divided into madya krama, madyantara and ngoko . While krama  inggil is divided into mudha krama, kramantara and wredha krama.





As it is explain in the former session, this paper will elaborate the speech functions defined by Holmes (1992:286) and relate it to the politeness in Indonesian communication. As Holmes admits, one speech may serve more than one function.


Expressive utterances

Expressive utterances express the speakers’ feelings. This function serves the declaration of a speaker’s ambiance. In Indonesian communication, expression is used to keep up social relationship. When someone is meeting a friend or someone he/she is familiar with, he/she will greet him/her to make sure “here, I am your friend or your neighbor”.

The following are the form of utterances that serve expressive function:


(1) Selamat pagi, ibu.

(Good morning, mom? )

(2) Hari ini cerah sekali

(very lovely day)

(3) Terimakasih banyak

(Thank you very much)

(4) Jangan kapok dalang lagi  ya ?

(Come here again, some time) .

(5) Senang sekali bias  beristirahat di tempat yang tenang seperti ini .

(It is nice to have a rest in this silent place)

(6)  Oh tidak apa-apa , ini enak sekali

(No problem, it is very nice)


All the utterances above could be categorized as expressive function, though the first, usually can be put into phatic function slot. People usually express their feeling like sentence (4) when a guest is asking for permission. This expressive utterance is used to show that the host/hostess is happy with the guest and he/she wants the guest to come  again next time. Sentence (6) serves both expressive and informative functions.


Directive utterances

Directive utterances attempt to get someone to do something. In Indonesian communication, directive function can be articulated by imperative sentences, interrogative sentences as well as declarative sentences. Orders and commands are normally expressed in imperative form. The standard of polite utterances in requesting people to do something, somehow, is not only seen from the form of interrogatives or declaratives , but intonation, tone’ of voice, and context also determine it . A gentle “Bawakan tas ini” may be more polite than a thundered “Bibi, tolong bawakan tas ini “.  The following are the instances of directive utterances:


(1) Pergi!

(Go away! /Leave me alone!)

(2) Bawakan tas ini !

(Bring this bag )

(3) Bibi, tolong bawakan tas ini.

(Auntee , please bring this bag !)


(4) Silahkan minum, ibu

(Please have a drink)

(5) Bisakah anda duduk ?

(Could you sit down ?)


The sentences above indicate directive speech functions in the form of imperatives. Sentence (1) and (2) are considered to be rude because these sentences depict, direct order. These utterances are usually used by an older person to a younger one. Those are also commonly used by two persons that has different social status – the superiors to  those of subordinate status. While sentences (3), (4) and (5) show more delicate sense that  are normally used by someone to order others in a more polite way.


(6) Apa kamu sudah memberi makan kucingmu?

(Have you fed the cat?)

(7) Apakah kucingnya sudah diberi makan?)

(Has the cat been fed?)


The Utterances (6) and (7) are slightly different. Both illustrate an order or command in interrogative forms that show politeness. Sentence (6) uses active verb (memberi) and the subject (kamu) is clearly mentioned. In this case, the utterance serves two possibilities – the speaker really wants to know whether the addresser has fed the cat  or the speaker indirectly orders the addressee to feed the cat. Sentence (7) applies passive verb (diberi) and the subject is omitted. The omission of the subject indicates a more tender order that makes the addressee fells happy with the speaker’s statement. This means that the person to whom the speaker is speaking does not feel insulted, though he/she knows that the one who is supposed to feed the cat is the addressee. There is no sense of ordering or being ordered in the sentence. That is why the passive mode is frequently used in Indonesian communication.  The, following are declarative sentences that explicate directive function of speeches.  This kind of utterances is regarded as moderately polite in Indonesian communication. Intonation, tone and context, however, definitely determine the ethics.


(8) Ayah, aku ingin dibelikan sepeda baru.

(Daddy, I want you to buy me a new bike)

(9) Aku kira, kita sekarang butuh sesuatu untuk diminum.

(I think, we need something to drink now)

(10) Kamu bisa lebih nyaman kalau mau duduk 

(You would be more comfortable sitting down.)


In our daily conversation, we often come across some indirect directive ‘expressions. For example, when a man is working until midnight in his living room, his wife says to him:


(11) Pak, sudah malam.

  (Daddy, it has been late.)


This utterance can be multi-interpretable. This may provide directive as well as informative. His wife’ may remind him to check the doors and the windows because of security reason. She can intend to ask her husband to stop working because she is worried about his health or she does not want him to be sleepy in his work place. This utterance can also mean informative function – the wife informs her husband that it is time to stop working.


Referential utterances

Referential utterances provide information. Politeness in these utterances can be seen from the substance of cooperative principles – quality, quantity, relation and manner. The value of politeness, in the same way, a great deal depends on intonation, tone of voice and context too. The following utterances are instances for the referential function:


(1) Kami akan berangkat ke Jakarta besuk pagi jam 9

(We will leave for Jakarta tomorrow at 9 a.m.)

(2) Bayi kami selalu terjaga jam tiga pagi.

(Our baby always wakes up at 3 a.m.)

(3) Beres

     (No problem)

(4) Ibukota negara Indonesia adalah Jakarta

(The capital city of Indonesia is Jakarta)


Sentence (3) serves both referential and expressive function. Had it occurred without the utterance which precedes it, it could have served as referential in function, depicting information that the task could be finished in the time. It serves expressive when it is intended as reassurance.


Metalinguistic utterances

Metalinguistic utterances comment on language itself. Holmes (1992:286) gives the example of this function is like ‘Hegemony’ is not a common word. While Cripper and Widdowson in Allen and Corder (ed.) (1975:1997) explain that the utterances of this kind focus on the code or the language. The principle purpose of metalinguistic is to make sure that the addressee understands the meaning of the code which the addresser is using. In Indonesian communication, we often find metalinguistic function of speech in scientific discussion.


(1) Poetic art adalah seni penulisan karya sastra.

(Poetic art is the art of writing a literary work.)

(2) Stylistics adalah ilmu mengenai gaya bahasa dalam karya sastra.

(Stylistics is science about language style in a literary work.)


Poetic utterances

Poetic utterances focus on aesthetic features of language. This speech function is rarely used in daily conversation. In special occasion, like in the ceremony of engagement in North Sumatra community, anyway, poetic function is commonly used. RRI Tanjung Pinang broadcasts a special program named Serumpun Melayu that is this program dealing with the reproduction of Pantun Melayu on air (Srinthli, 2005). The following is the utterances of the broadcaster, Wan Abidah:


Pohon pinang disambar petir

Tumbang menimpa pohon kedondong

Kalah menang jangan dipikir

Yang penting penampilan , dong…


(Palm tree is struck by lightning

It falls over kedondong tree

Don’t think of losing or winning

The important thing is the performance)


Poetic utterances may be found in daily conversation, but it seldom happens in Javanese community. When it happens, the purpose is to raise a humorous effect between people who are close friends.


Kucing kurus mandi di papan

Papan nama kayu jati

Badan kurus bukan tak makan

Memikirkan si jantung hati


(Skinny cat takes a bath on a board

Nameboard made of jati tree

Skinny body is not because of lack of food

But thinking of the sweet heart)


Phatic utterances

Phatic utterances express solidarity and empathy with other. This speech function always exists in all community, but the form is different. In other words, this expression is culturally linked.

(1) Mau ke mana?

(Where are you going?)

(2) Mari singgah dulu.

(Please drop in.)


Utterance (I) is Indonesian distinctive expression that often make western people offended. For English community “Where are you going?”  is such a sensitive  greeting. This is too private question that someone who is greeted that way will be feeling spied and unsecured. That is why the possible answer to this question may be “It is none of your business”. On the other hand, in Indonesian daily social interaction, “where are you going” is a part of communicative strategy for breaking the ice. This expression is commonly used to start a conversation or to show one’s care of others. This greeting may become a ‘lip-service’ that is to show “I am your friend and I care of you”. This is apparently a form of phatic expression in Indonesian vernacular.

We often hear “Mari singgah dulu” in Indonesian daily communication and it serves a social function too. The offering is usual1y done by a speaker to someone he/she is familiar with – someone to his/her neighbors. Sometimes someone offers his friend or his neighbor to drop in his/her house. He offers something, but he actually does not mean so. He just wants to demonstrate utterly that” you are my friend”.


(3) “Mari makan.

(Let’s have a meal.)


It happens very often in a campus canteen when a person is about to eat his/her meal and his/her friend comes then he/she will say “Mari makan”. The statement of offering food is sometimes merely a lip-service. The speaker does not intend to share his food with the addressee. What he has in mind is that “well you are my friend”‘. Cook (1989) calls this “the phatic function of the language”. As this expression is only a lip­ service, so the addressee usually applies the same strategy, namely flouting co-operative principle, by uttering “Terimakasih, saya baru saja makan”.  Meanwhile, accepting the offer sometimes can cause embracement because the food may not be enough for two persons. Conversely, when two persons are very close friends, the acceptance of the proposal is reasonable.



From the discussion above, it can be concluded that in Indonesian speeches serve many functions too, namely expressive, directive, referential, metalinguistic, poetic, and phatic.  The most sensitive function of the speech is directive function because misunderstanding can mostly happen in this field. It would be considered rude when someone does not have enough knowledge of using this directive expression. Lack of this knowledge in a long run will ruin the social relationship.

The purpose of communication is not only delivering messages, but it also means keeping up the social relationship. To maintain the social interaction, some one needs to understand the co-operative principles and politeness principles. Co-operative principles sometimes need to be conformed so as to understand the message delivered, but at the same these principles have to he flouted to maintain the social relationship. That is why the study of speech functions and politeness in many speech communities is important.




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Brown, H. Douglas. 2000. Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. San Fransisco : Addison Wesley Longman, Inc.

Cook, Guy. 1989. Discourse. Hongkong:Oxford University Press

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Holmes, Janet. 1992. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. London and New York: Longman.

Hudson, R.A.. 1980. Sociolinguistics. Great Britain: Cambridge University Press.

Rahardi , Kujana . 2001. Sosiolingulstik, Kode dan Alih Kode. Yogyakarta: Puataka Pelajar

Robins, R.H.1989. General Linguistics. New York: Longman Inc.