Archive for June, 2014


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



* oglahnth (ancient one)


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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



* oglahnth (ancient one)


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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



* oglahnth (ancient one)


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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



* oglahnth (ancient one)


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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



* oglahnth (ancient one)


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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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* oglahnth (ancient one)


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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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* oglahnth (ancient one)




by: Zubaidi, State Polytechnic of Malang




The objective of this research was to study the communication strategies (CS) used by a non-English lecturer teaching her subject in English. The study was to investigate the types and frequency of CS used by the lecturer and the students’ perception of the use of communication strategies by their lecturer. Data was collected from classroom observations and a questionnaire. Tarone’s (1980) taxonomy of CS was used in this descriptive-qualitative analysis. The results showed that the lecturer used language switch, literal translation, appeal-for-assistance, circumlocution, approximation and message abandonment strategies. Fillers and pauses were also used during her teaching. The students perceived that the use of CS by the lecturer helped them understand the subject better. The strategies that help them to comprehend the lecturer’s explanation better were language switch, literal translation and circumlocution strategy. The students perceived that the use of Indonesian could make understanding easier because their English was still not good.


Keywords: communication strategies, bilingual class, non-English lecturer


Bilingual education is an educational program which involves the use of two languages of instruction at some point in the schooling process (Brisk, 2006; González, 2008). This program involves the first language (L1) and one second or foreign language (L2) which is the target language of acquisition as the medium of instruction(Baker, 2001). In terms of the use of the two languages in the classroom, a bilingual program is determined by the aims of the program. The bilingual instruction in the Indonesian education environment is commonly intended to improve the quality of the human resources, especially their English proficiency.

In this circumstance, bilingual classes need proficient teachers who can teach the subject matter in English well even though they can use their native language to explain a certain concept when it is difficult to do so in English. Nevertheless, the bigger proportion of use of English language is preferable. However, in a bilingual (or even multilingual) situation like in Indonesia, the mastery of both English and Indonesian can be imbalanced. This imbalance may be caused by the teacher’s less proficiency of one language and may result in problems in explaining a concept. To solve the problems the teachers will apply several different CS in order they can elucidate their linguistic difficulty (Auer, 1999; Bolander, 2008).

The study is intended to know what different CSs are used by a non-English lecturer in a bilingual class in the Business Administration Department of State Polytechnic of Malang. It includes the types and frequency of CS and the students’ perception of the use of CS by the lecturer.

The concept of CS was first introduced by Selinker (1972) in his paper called “Interlanguage” where these strategies are one of the five central processes involved in second language learning. These strategies were then studied by some researchers, such as Tarone (1980), Faerch & Kasper (1983), Corder (1981), and others. Tarone (1980:419) defines a communication strategy “as a mutual attempt of two interlocutors to agree on a meaning in situation where requisite meaning structures are not shared.” In this definition CSs are used when there is an interaction between the interlocutors who are negotiating the meaning.

Faerch& Kasper (1983:81)define CS as ‘potentially conscious plans for solving what to an individual presents itself as a problem in reaching a particular communicative goal’. Faerch and Kasper look CS as a result of conscious planning which may occur to solve potential communicative problems and to produce communication smoothness and fluency.

Corder (1981:103) defines the communicative strategies of second language learners “as a systematic technique employed by a speaker to express his meaning when faced with some difficulty.” In his definition Corder focuses the use of CS to solve the problems in the communication.

Tarone (1980) suggests taxonomy of CS from the social interactional perspective. This perspective is based on the notion that communication happens in an interaction between the language learners and their interlocutors and that both parties negotiate the meaning. She lists nine strategies which she groups into five categories, as follows:

(1)  Paraphrase:

  1. Approximation
  2. Word Coinage
  3. Circumlocution

(2)  Borrowing:

  1. Literal Translation
  2. Language Switch

(3)  Appeal for Assistance

(4)  Mime

(5)  Avoidance:

  1. Topic Avoidance
  2. Message Abandonment

The second important communication strategy taxonomy is suggested by Faerch and Kasper (1983). Their classification of the CS is based on the notion that CSs are actually a cognitive process of the speaker with a focus on comprehension and production. Therefore, they suggest different taxonomy of CS. Some of their strategies are the same as suggested by Tarone, yet they propose more strategies and different categories. The following are Faerch & Kasper’s (1983) taxonomy of CS.

Another set of taxonomy is suggested by Bialystok (1990) who groups two principal classes of CS in the process-oriented approach: analysis-based and control-based strategies. This classification is based on a framework of language processing. The analysis-based strategies include circumlocution, paraphrase, transliteration, word coinage, and mime, while the control-based strategies include language switch, ostensive definition, appeal for help, and mime. She states that the analysis-based strategies involve “an attempt to convey the structure of the intended concept by making explicit the relational defining features.” The control-based strategies involve “choosing a representational system that is possible to convey and that makes explicit information relevant to the identity of the intended concept” (Bialystok, 1990:134).

This study uses Tarone’s taxonomy of CS because it is developed on the basis of interactional perspective and consists of clear classifications. Tarone’s taxonomy involves the context where communication happens. It pays attention to the understanding of the interlocutor towards the meaning which is trying to get across. In this sense, the choice of the strategy depends more or less on the listener’s understanding. When the listener seems still confused or does not understand the meaning, the speaker will probably use another strategy. In addition, it is often used as the bases for the investigation in many pieces of research studying CS in different situations, such as in Hung (2012), Yang & Gai (2010), Kongsom (2009), Zhang(2007).




This is a descriptive qualitativestudy of the CS which are used by a non-English lecturer in a bilingual class at the Business Administration Department of State Polytechnic of Malang. One lecturer of the department was picked purposively as the subject of the study and was observed of her use of CS in three classroom meetings in a bilingual class. The study is to discover the types and frequency of CS used by the lecturer, and the students’ perception towards the use of CS by the lecturer in the classroom

Several types of data were collected in the study. The first data was video-recorded verbal classroom communication between the non-English lecturer and the students taken from three different meetings of the same bilingual class. The verbal classroom communication was then transcribed to identify the CS used by the lecturer and the frequency of their use. The transcription was done carefully to include any pauses and their duration, repetition of certain utterances, intonation and other aspects of conversation analysis and discourse analysis as described by Wooffitt (2005). The second type of data was the students’ perception towards the use of CS by the lecturer in her or his teachingobtained from a questionnaire given to the students.




The Communication Strategies Used by the Lecturer


The communication strategies of Tarone’s (1980) taxonomy used by the lecturer were language switch, literal translation, appeal for assistance, approximation, circumlocution and message abandonment. Fillers and pauses were also used by the lecturer.

The type and frequency of the use of CS are summarized in the following table.


Table 1.   Type and frequency of communication strategies used by the lecturer


Communication Strategy %
Language switch 274 52.49
Literal translation 139 26.63
Circumlocution 12 2.30
Approximation 36 6.90
Appeal for assistance 8 1.53
Message abandonment 14 2.68
Fillers 21 4.02
Pauses 18 3.45
Total 522 100


Language Switch Strategy

It was found that the lecturer used the language switch strategy in two different ways. They were code mixing and code switching. She used these strategies alternatively for different reasons and purposes.

Language switch strategy was used the most often (52.49%) by the lecturer. The lecturer believed that it was the easiest way to solve the difficulty with the second language. She felt that when she did not know the proper expressions in English, using the mother tongue was the best way. Her statement proved that the definition of communication strategy mentioned by some scholars in part is true; for example, the definitions by Tarone (1980), Corder (1981), and Faerch & Kasper (1983) which relate the use of communication strategy to an attempt to solve the speaker’s problem in communicating his message to his/her listener.

The language switch strategy is commonly used in a bilingual context where two languages are shared proportionally by the interlocutors. This strategy is often used by speakers with lower degree of L2 proficiencyor by those who speak with lower speakers, as studied by Sinha (2009) in an Indian classroom situation and by Takehara (2000) in a Japanese classroom situation.

The language switch in this study, however, was used by the lecturer for two reasons: to make the subject understandable to the students, and to avoid misunderstanding due to misuse of English expressions.

The finding of this study is similar to that of another study by Suharyadi (2010). His findings showed many uses of language switch by the teacher of mathematics, chemistry and biology. These three teachers stated that the use of language switch was for emergency situations where the teachers did not know the English expressions and for students’ comprehension on the topic being discussed in the classroom.

The findings of a piece of research by Ghout-Khenoune (2006), however, do not support the finding of this study. In her dissertation for the degree of Magister in Linguistics at University of Algiers, she investigates a group of EFL learners who are given different tasks with different level of difficulty: description tasks and discussion tasks. She finds that the learners do not use different CS in solving their problem in completing the tasks. They use the same CS in the two sets of tasks: repetition, restructuring, message abandonment and appeal for assistance. It is inferred from the research that the different levels of difficulty of the tasks do not affect the types of CS the learners use in solving their communication problems.

The different findings of Ghout-Khenoune’s (2006) study and this study do not mean that they contradict each other. Different subjects and objects of communication, classroom interactions, and topics cause different use of CS. Blom and Gumperz (1972 in Nilep, 2006:7) call these three factors as participants, setting and topic. These factors, as they mention, “restrict the selection of linguistic variables in a manner that is somewhat analogous to syntactic or semantic restriction.”

They further explain that in certain social situations, some linguistic forms or utterances may be more appropriate than others. Take for an example, the types of utterances or communication used by a group of mechanics in a workshop are different from the variety of language used by teachers presenting text material in the public school. It can be inferred, therefore, that different social events may result in different language forms even with the same participants in the same setting when the topic shifts.

In the current study the lecturer used language switch strategy together with literal translation strategy to make sure that her students understood the topic she was explaining. It was the students’ understanding to the topic which became the lecturer’s concern. Both strategies were used alternatively along the course of the teaching. Under the observation the lecturer did not seem to show any linguistic problems in explaining the topic. This fact was confirmed by the lecturer’s statement in the interview.


Literal Translation Strategy

Literal translation strategy was used by the lecturer as many as 139 times (26.63%) to make sure that the concepts and her explanation could be understood by the students. The lecturer felt that the students’ understanding was more important than the use of English. This was because the concepts of accounting were rather difficult to the students, let alone that the students might not have much background knowledge about accounting.

The use of language switch strategy and literal translation strategy was intended in one part to make the message comprehensible by the students. It was the students’ understanding which counted more than just the use of the second language or English. The lecturer in this situation did not always have the lexical problem as mentioned in some definitions by language experts, such as Tarone (1980), Faerch & Kasper (1983) and others. They state that CSs are used when the speaker has difficulties in the language. The lecturer in the study deliberately used the first language to make her message understood by her students.

The use of the first language in the language switch strategy and literal translation strategy in that situation was similar to the summary made by Begovic (2011). Her study is conducted with four Swedish L2 learners of upper secondary school who share the same first language. She summarizes that code switching is used to bring an effect to an utterance, and not because of lacking knowledge in their L2. From these findings it can be inferred that the use of certain CS is not always caused by the lack of lexical knowledge of the second language.

In the students’ point of view in this study, the use of CS which involved the first language was also preferred. When asked to rank the effectiveness of the nine communication categories, the students put literal translation strategy and language switch in the first and second ranks respectively. It showed that the use of Indonesian was still important for the communication to be able to convey the message. This fact might indicate that because the students were not proficient in English, the use of Indonesian was for understanding.

This finding is similar to what is found by Ting & Phan (2008) who mention that the less-proficient speakers of English in their study tend to choose the strategies which involve the first language, while more-proficient speakers tend to prefer the strategies which are more L2 oriented. The L1-oriented strategies in their study are literal translation and language switch strategies. The less-proficient speakers use the literal translation strategy 5 times out of 142 strategies used or 4%, while the language switch strategy is employed 25 times or 18%.

Another piece of research by Yang & Gai (2010) also supports the present study, where they find that most students under study use strategies which involve the use of first language. In their study, the students use the language switch more often than the other strategies. Reduction strategies, which can be topic avoidance or message abandonment, are also preferred by the students when they have problems in expressing their message. They use these to be able to overcome nervousness and stress, reducing errors to reach the goal of communication.

For the present study, the lecturer used the language switch and literal translation because either that the lecturer wanted to make sure that her message was comprehensible to the students or that she was not sure how to express her message in English correctly due to her lack of vocabulary. When she was asked why she did not use other strategies, she said that using Indonesian was more effective and easy to do. In addition, she was concerned more to make the students understand the important concepts of her subject than to use English which was difficult to understand.


Circumlocution Strategy

The circumlacution strategy was used by the lecturer as many as 12 times. This strategy is one used to exemplify, illustrate or describe a concept or object (Dornyei& Scott,1995: 188). The lecturer used this strategy when she came across a new concept that she thought the students deserve an explanation.

Several studies on CS, such as by Malasit & Sarobol (2013), Hung (2012) and Suharyadi (2010), mention that circumlocution strategy is used to paraphrase a certain concept which may be difficult to understand or one which the speaker does not know the word or phrase in the target language.

Approximation Strategy

The approximation strategy is one to refer to the use of a single target language (L2) word or structure which shares the semantic features of the target word or structure (Dorneyi & Scott, 1997). The lecturer under study used this strategy 36 times accounting for 6.90 percent of all strategies identified during the classroom commnication.

In several ocassions the lecturer in the study used the strategy when she did not know the term in English. For instance, when she talked about the concept of ‘transporting,’ due to her being not sure with the target word she used ‘transporter’ or ‘transformer.’


Appeal for Assistance Strategy

The appeal for assistance strategy is used when the speaker seeks help, either directly or indirectly, from his/her interlocutor for solving his/her linguistic problems. The use of this strategy is reported in many recent studies concerning communication in the context of second language learning, for example Hung, (2012), Binhayeearong (2009), Chen (2009), and Ghout-Khenoune (2006). In these studies the appeal for assistance strategy is used because the speakers do not know the intended word or words, either asked implicitly or explicitly.

The use of appeal for assistance strategy by the lecturer in this study was found eigth times during the teaching-learning process in the classroom, which indicated that the lecturer had difficulty in using English in the classroom by asking the students for certain target words or phrases. For example, when she asked about a special term which was related to the topic being discussed, ‘barang jadi,’ she asked the students.

In astudy by Suharyadi (2010) three teachers who are observed to investigate the use of CS in the classroom does not find any use of appeal for assistance. Three teachers of mathematics, chemistry, and biology use the strategies of code switching and code mixing, repetition, paraphrasing–approximation, direct translation and circumlocution. Even though his study has similar classroom situation to this study, the types of strategies used by the teachers are different. There seems to be factors that influence the use of CS; and there have been several studies which investigate these factors.

Guhlemann (2011:20), for example, finds that there is a significant correlation between personality & motivation and the use of CS. He investigates students with low anxiety and high anxiety also those students who are low motivated and high motivated. The results show that the students who have low anxiety and high motivation tend to use circumlocution (score: 4.29), approximation (score: 4.21), and use of all-purpose words (score:3.93). Meanwhile, the students with high anxiety and low motivation tend to use avoidance (score: 1.93), code switching (score: 2.5), and foreignerization, as well as topic avoidance (score: 2.86).

In another study of factors affecting the use of CS, Huang (2010) finds that the students’ oral proficiency, the frequency of speaking in English and the motivation in speaking English are significant factors influencing the use of oral CS. He also finds that gender has a little affect on the use of CS.


Message Abandonment Strategy

Message abandonment strategy is a communication strategy which “occurs when the learner begins to talk about a concept but is unable to continue due to lack of meaning structure, and stops in mid-utterance” (Tarone, 1980: 429). This strategy was used by the lecturer when she did not continue her explanation of the topic due to a couple of reasons. In the interview, the lecturer mentioned that she did not actually want to avoid the topic; rather, her mind was distracted by the slide presentation. The slide showed something else when she had not finished explaining the current topic, so that she then explained what was shown on the screen/computer. Thus, it can be said that the use of the message abandonment strategy was not due to her lack of lexical and grammatical inadequacy; rather, to technical effect of the usage of the teaching aid and psychological distraction of focus.

Malasit & Sarobol (2013) investigate 30 students of an English program in Thai classroom situation for the use of CS with different tasks. Their findings show the frequent use of message abandonment strategy and put it in fifth rank of frequency. They mention that for difficult tasks the students tend to use the avoidance strategies which include topic avoidance and message abandonment.


The Use of Fillers and Pauses

The lecturer used fillers, such as er or um many times during the teaching learning process. Even though Tarone (1980) does not include fillers as a communication strategy in her taxonomy, several researchers (Malasit & Sarobol, 2013; Hua, et al. 2012; Begovic, 2011; Jorda, 1997; Dornyei & Scott, 1995) who discuss on CS mention that fillers are part of CS which are categorized under stalling or time gaining strategy which are used to have time to think for the proper language units to make the conversation keep going. Kongsom (2009:30) states in his research that the use of fillers is not intended to compensate vocabulary lack but rather to give time to think and to keep on the conversation.

Begovic (2011) mentions that pauses and fillers are good tools for a speaker to think and plan what they want to say next, and how to do so. In more details Faerch and Kasper (1983) distinguish four different types of pausing: articulatory pauses, pauses for breathing, conventional pauses, and hesitation pauses. These pauses are categorized into unfilled (silent) pauses and filled pauses which are indicated by non-lexical activity such as er, em, erm, oh or turn-based starters such as well, I mean, you know, I don’t know (Faerch and Kasper, 1983).

The interview with the lecturer in this study showed the reason for the use of many fillers and pauses that was slight different from the results of Kongsom’s research. The lecturer said that she used the fillers and pauses because she waited to see the students’ reaction of what she had just said.

This finding of using many pauses and fillers in this current study is similar to the finding of the study conducted by Malasit & Sarobol (2013) who investigate the use of CS by Thai learners. They find that these learners use fillers/hesitation most frequently (43.33%). They use them because the strategyallows the learners to process their cognitive demands required from the task and help the speech to flow naturally.


The Students’ Perception of Communication Strategy Use


The students of the bilingual class perceived the use of CS employed by the lecturer as a helpful tool for better comprehension of the subject matter. As found in the findings, the students perceived positively towards the use of strategies which involve the first language, which are language switch and literal translation, and circumlocution. They, in contrast, perceived negatively towards the use of topic avoidance and message abandonment.

These findings are not similar to those of a study by Moattarian (2012). She investigates 100 students to give their perceptions about the use of CS in oral and written mediums. Even though their perceptions are not aimed at the use of CS by their teacher, their opinions about the use of CS are relevant to the current study. In Moattarian’s study, the students perceive that the use of strategies which involve the use of first language get negative attitudes, while the strategies which go to the group of achievement or compensatory strategies get positive attitude.

Most of the students (88%) in this study perceived that the use of CS by the lecturer helped them in understanding what the lecturer tried to explain. However, the strategies which involved the second language were preferred by the students. When the students were asked to rank which CS help them best, they determined that literal translation communication strategy was the best, followed by language switch strategy and circumlocution strategy. Their choice was based on the reason that these strategies could help them in understanding the message better.

The students (77%) also mentioned that they liked the lecturer’s use of English in the classroom though she often experienced difficulties in expressing herself in English (67%) and she used several CS to overcome her difficulties. The CS that the lecturer used most often, as perceived by the students, wererespectively: literal translation (90%), language switch (82%), circumlocution (46%), approximation (46%), appeal for assistance (44%), and message abandonment (35%). In responding to the use of these fillers and pauses the students perceived that they did not help much for their comprehension but it did not matter much because the students can comprehend it from the actions of the lecturer in the classroom.




In terms of the use of CS in the classroom, it can be concluded that the lecturer used several different CS to help them convey the subjects she was teaching. The strategies that she used most often were those which were related to the first language (L1), namely language switch and literal translation. The language switch strategy that was used by the lecturer includes code-switching and code-mixing. In line with the fact that language switch strategy can be code-mixing and code-switching, the use of code-mixing strategy in this study was more frequent than code-switching. From the interview with the lecturer the use of more code-mixing was caused partly by automatic slip of tongue and mostly by her intention to make her message understood by the students.

In summary, the conclusion drawn from this study stated that the use of the CS by the lecturer was intended to make the concepts of the subject matters understood by the students, and because the lecturer had difficulties in the linguistic system. The use of language switch was intended to make the language understood by the listeners. Language switch strategy was unavoidable and important in the process of teaching-learning since it functioned to increase attention among students, to qualify messages and to facilitate further understanding on the topic discussed. It is clear that in this study understanding or making the message across is more important in the communication and interaction between the lecturer and the students than the efforts to use English in the bilingual class.





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Improving Intelligibility of Voiced and Voiceless “th” Consonants in the Speeches of Sophomores Using Pronunciation Drills



Maksud Temirov, Graduate Program in English Language Teaching, StateUniversity of Malang




 This article is based on a study conducted with the intention of treating a university sophomores’ difficulties in producing intelligible /θ, ð/ sounds and enabling them to achieve faultless pronunciation of these sounds by applying pronunciation drilling technique through authentic teaching sessions.

The research design was an Action Research. The subjects were 25 sophomores (4th semester students) of English Department of State University of Malang (East Java, Indonesia). Coming from four different groups (G, GG, H, and J), they formed up a single speaking class at the department. Their ages ranged from 18 to 20. The preliminary study as well as the remedial classes were held on the University campus. The focal instrument of the study was a short text including 12 words each having “th” consonants (/ð/, /θ/ sounds) that was read aloud by the subjects in the preliminary study as well as during and after the teaching sessions. The 3 recordings were carefully analyzed and compiled on a compact disc.

The pronunciation drilling technique was implemented in one cycle comprising 4 remedial lessons.The implementation of the action was based on the lesson plans. The researcher himself was the teacher to deliver the remedial lessons through various pronunciation activities such as exercising drills, minimal pair discrimination, tongue-twisters, reading texts on the subjects.The three pronunciation activities were chosen because of the practice in hearing and saying the “th” consonants, moreover, the words containing “th” consonants are pronounced in two ways and the spelling of “th” does not overlap with pronunciation. The assessment of “th” sounds were assessed on whether the sounds were pronounced correctly or not. If one of the sounds, either the voiced “th” or the voiceless one were confusedly pronounced using a different similar or dissimilar sounds instead, such as [d], [t], [f], [s], [z], they were immediately noted down in corresponding tables. However, the correctly pronounced consonants were shown in ticks (ü). The success percentage of each 12 words included in the short text were shown in interactive graphs.

The important questions that the researcher decided to deal with were:(1) Can pronunciation drilling technique improve the sophomores’ pronunciation of /θ/ and /ð/ consonants? (2) Can sophomores achieve intelligible pronunciation of /θ/ and /ð/ consonants with ease? The questions were answered with positive results. The students could achieve intelligible production of the two sounds by the end of the study. The findings of this study showed that implementing pronunciation drilling technique when teaching individual sounds, such as /θ/and /ð/ in this case, could make the students achieve rather intelligible pronunciation of English words.

Even though several linguists argue that the pronunciation drilling techniques are rather old-fashioned method of teaching pronunciation, based on the results of the present study, however, the researcher believes that this technique is at least useful in teaching individual sounds. Therefore, the speaking class teachers, especially those at secondary schools, have to apply more pronunciation drilling activities in order enable their students achieve an intelligible English pronunciation before they reach the University level. For future researchers, it is suggested to use the result of this study as a reference in conducting researches in the related areas.

Keywords: pronunciation, voiced and voiceless consonants, problematic sounds in pronunciation, pronunciation of /θ, ð/, intelligibility


The background of the study chiefly discusses the topics, such as what pronunciation is, its importance, and why pronunciation should be taught. It also deals with intelligibility of speech, factors that interfere with correct pronunciation, drilling technique and its several ways of application when teaching individual sounds. Also, it explains about potential difficult and problematic English sounds for the Indonesian speakers of English, and production of voiced and unvoiced “th”consonants.


Pronunciation Problems of Most Indonesian Speakers of English

Through the years spent as well as the personal observations obtained through teaching English pronunciation to University students and being adjudicator in several provincial English language student contests in Malang, East Java, Indonesia, the researcher was faced with unintelligible English pronunciation of some students. Although the students were undergraduates or studying their Master’s Degree in the English department of some prominent Universities like Brawijaya University and State University of Malang, they were unaware of certain pronunciation mistakes in their speeches. Most of the students have substantial knowledge of English grammar and are able to make correct complex sentences in English; however, their unintelligibility in pronunciation makes their English proficiency incomplete and hard to be effortlessly perceived by another listener. For example, they happen to pronounce the words “fan” and “van” in the same way. That is because of the L1 impact, of course because Bahasa Indonesia lacks the English “v” sound. Apart from this, other relevant instances could be the incorrect pronunciation of the words “path”, “theater”, “whether”, etc. This problem comes either from the L1 effect or simply lack of awareness of correct English pronunciation. Those problems need to be treated.

Intelligible pronunciation is essential during a listening process, clear and correct pronunciation makes a conversation more comfortable for both the speaker and the listener and even helps to avoid misunderstanding.

David Keating (2013: 3) states that Indonesian speakers of English have problems resulting from L1 (first language) interference. In terms of pronunciation, many Indonesians have trouble pronouncing consonant clusters (3 or more consonants together in a word), as these clusters do not occur in Bahasa Indonesia.

Likewise, Indonesian speakers of English like several other non-native English speakers have significant problems concerning English consonant blends. In the current study to be conducted, the researcher takes the voiceless and voiced “th” sounds which are /θ/ as in the word thin and /ð/ as in the word mother to be one of the core issues that need to be studied and corrected through teaching and practice as they are commonly mispronounced among non-native speakers of English, such as the native speakers of Bahasa Indonesia.

In the case of sophomores at the university, a reasonable accuracy in the pronunciation of individual sounds such as the /θ/ and /ð/ sounds as mentioned above should certainly have been achieved; earlier at school; however many students still fail to attain perfection.

Pronunciation problems may occur when non-native speakers communicate because speakers are used to sounds that exist in their mother tongue but may not exist in the target language. There are a lot of sounds that do exist or are similar in English and Indonesian; however, there are sounds that are very different or do not exist in Indonesian.

There are several factors that influence the pronunciation of Indonesian learners of English. First, Indonesian learners use sounds that are in Indonesian language but may not exist in English. For instance the clear pronunciation of the[r] sound by an Indonesian speaker of English like in the word rektor (Eng.: rector) definitely makes their English speech worse and somehow irritating for the listener. Second, when reading or speaking, Indonesian students apply the rule of last syllable prominence which is not presented in English. For example, in the word Canada the stress normally falls on the first syllable [Canada] in the English language. However, when a typical Indonesian speaker of English pronounces the same word, he or she happens to stress either the second or the last syllable[Canada]/[Canada]. Lastly, Indonesian learners do not distinguish between the written and spoken form as in Indonesian the written and spoken forms resemble and this goes hand in hand with pronouncing the silent letters e.g. the word salmon is usually pronounced as /sælmən/ instead of /sæmən/ by Indonesian learners.


Potentially Problematic English Sounds for Indonesians

The most problematic vowel sounds for Indonesian learners of English are such as follows (there might be more; however, here are some instances only): /æ/ as in the word cat: since the vowel /æ/ does not exist in Indonesian, it is often pronounced as /e/ as in the word men; /ɪ/ as in the word ship: the short vowel does occur in Indonesian but it is frequently mixed with long vowel /i:/ as in the word sheep; /ɜ:/ as in the word bird: the vowel does not exist in Indonesian and it is frequently mispronounced by inexperienced Indonesian learners as / ʌ / as in the word cup or /ɑ:/ as in the word heart or vice versa; /eɪ/ as in the word tail: It is commonly pronounced as /e/ as in the word pen; or / əʊ/ as in the word phone: The common error made by Indonesian learners is that they do not distinguish between written and spoken form and therefore it is pronounced as /ɒ/ as in the word clock.

According to the researcher’s intent as well as his specific area of interest a closer look will be paid to consonants; particularly the two voiced and unvoiced “th” sounds. There are consonant sounds in English that neither exist nor have equivalent form in Indonesian and therefore confusion between consonants may occur.

The most problematic consonant sounds for Indonesian learners of English could probably be the followings: /θ/ as in the word theater: there is no sound similar to this consonant in Indonesian, and therefore it is often pronounced as /t/ or /s/ because of a close place of articulation; /ð/ as in the word brother: there is no representation of the consonant in Indonesian and therefore it is pronounced as /d/ or /z/ because of a close place of articulation; /dʒ / as in the word jar or language: the common error made by Indonesian learners is that they do not distinguish between written and spoken form and therefore it is usually confused with /j/ or / tʃ/; /z/ as in the word maze: in Indonesian language a rule of assimilation of end consonants is applied, which means that a voiced consonant becomes voiceless when it occurs in a final position, therefore the voiced consonant is pronounced as voiceless /s/ if it is in a final position; /g/ as in the word frog: Indonesian learners use a rule of assimilation of final consonants; therefore the voiced consonant becomes voiceless /k/ in a final position; /b/ as in the word cab: in Indonesian language a rule of assimilation of final consonants is used therefore, the voiced consonant is changed into voiceless /p/ in a final position; /v/ as in the word brave: in Indonesian learners apply a rule of assimilation of end consonants; therefore the voiced consonant is transformed into voiceless /f/ in a final position.

Similarly, another difficulty an Indonesian learner of the English language might face is that of minimal pairs. The term “minimal pairs” refers to two words within a language which have different meanings but vary in one sound segment only (Fromkin & Rodman,1993). Examples of this in English are the words “hit” and “heat”. There are many of these in the English language. Which minimal pairs cause a student problems, depends on the phonetics of their native language and their language of study (L1 and L2). In the case of Indonesian learners, “van” and “fan”, pose a problem because of the nature of the Indonesian language which lacks the sound for the English “v”. For this reason the language learners have difficulty with clearly differentiating between the sounds both when they hear them and when they attempt to pronounce them. In turn, difficulties with minimal pairs may even cause language learners problems in areas like reading and spelling, as students mix up words and thus meanings.


Similar Previous Studies in the Related Fields

In his famous book, Better Pronunciation, O’ Connor (1980: 25) presented 5 categories of pronunciation problems among learners from 6 Western and Oriental nationalities. One of them is sound substitution with other ones from English or from learners’ L1 due to the lack of corresponding English sounds in their mother tongues. As revealed by Fraser (2001: 33), speakers of other languages usually replace English consonants that are unfamiliar with near ones available in their mother tongues(also seen in Cruttenden, 2001, Lewis & Hill, 1992, River & Temperley, 1978).

Another similar investigation was conducted by Shafiro et al (2012)on the perception of American-English (AE) vowels and consonants by young adults who were either (a) early Arabic-English bilinguals whose native language was Arabic or (b) native speakers of the English dialects spoken in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where both groups were studying. In a closed-set format, participants were asked to identify 12 AE vowels presented in /hVd/ context and 20 AE consonants (C) in three vocalic contexts: /ɑCɑ/, /iCi/, and /uCu/. Both native Arabic and native English groups demonstrated high accuracy in identification of vowels (70 and 80% correct, respectively) and consonants (94 and 95% correct, respectively). For both groups, the least-accurately identified vowels were /ɑ/, /ɔ/, /æ/, while most consonant errors were found for /ð/, which was most frequently confused with /v/.

Dental fricatives /ð/ and /θ/ are among the most difficult phonemes for speakers of other languages due to the lack of them in most languages other than English (Cruttenden, 2001). He also noticed that /t/ and /d/were used as their frequent substitutions (also seen in Chan & Li, 2000)/z/, d/ and /s/ were produced instead of /ð/ and /θ/ correspondingly. Nguyen (2007) proved that 80% of her subjects were found to mispronounce /ð/ and /θ/ sounds.

In an action research on the role of continuous feedback in students’ pronunciation improvement Tran (2006) reviewed seven factors that affect the pronunciation of Vietnamese learners. Apart from well-known causes: native language, learners’ ages, she emphasized the influence of the amount of exposure to English, students’ own phonetic ability, their attitude to the learning of the language, motivation and teacher’s role. In attempt to discuss Vietnamese learners’ pronunciation of English sounds, Duong (2009) showed four main reasons that account for their failure in making the truly English consonants: (1) failure in distinguishing the difference, (2) influence of the mother tongue, (3) perception of mistakes, (4) inadequate drills and practice.


Why Teach Pronunciation?

Teaching pronunciation has undergone a long evolution. At the beginning of the 20th century everything was subordinated to teaching grammar and lexis and pronunciation was totally overlooked. Many things have changed since that time but on the other hand there are still some teachers who do not pay enough attention to pronunciation. According to Scrivener (2005: 284) this is partly because teachers themselves may feel more uncertain about it than about grammar and lexis, worried that they don’t have enough technical knowledge to help students appropriately.

It is widely recognized that acquiring good pronunciation is very important because bad pronunciation habits are not easily corrected. Kelly (2002: 11) states:

a learner who consistently mispronounces a range of phonemes can be extremely difficult for a speaker from another language community to understand. This can be very frustrating for the learner who may have a good command of grammar and lexis but have difficulty in understanding and being understood by a native speaker.

In the researcher’s opinion pronunciation is still neglected at schools. When teaching pronunciation it is difficult to create a lesson that would be only focused on pronunciation practice because pronunciation is taken as an additional practice in all course books. Another problem can be caused by the fact that emphasis is frequently given on individual sounds or distinguishing sounds from each other. According to Gilbert (2008: 1) there are two main reasons why pronunciation is neglected in classes. First, teachers do not have enough time in their lessons, which would be dedicated to pronunciation, and if there is time attention is usually given to drills which lead to discouraged students and teachers who both want to avoid learning and teaching pronunciation. Second, psychological factor plays a relevant role in learning pronunciation because students are not as sure about their pronunciation as they are about their knowledge of grammar and lexis. Gilbert (2008: 1) claims that the most basic elements of speaking are deeply personal and our sense of community is bound up in the speech rhythms of our first language. These psychological barriers are usually unconscious but they prevent speakers from improving the intelligibility. To be able to overcome the fears of speaking, teachers should set at the outset that the aim of pronunciation improvement is not to achieve a perfect imitation of a native accent, but simply to get the learner to pronounce accurately enough to be easily and comfortably comprehensible to other speakers (Ur 1984: 52).



Since pronunciation is a complex and important part of learning and teaching process teachers need to set goals and aims they want to achieve with their students. According to Ur (1984: 52) perfect accents are difficult if not impossible to achieve in foreign language the goal of teachers need to be, to make their students be easily understandable when communicating with other people.

When speaking about intelligibility there is no clear definition of it, but in general we can say that intelligibility means that a hearer can understand a speaker at a set time and situation without major difficulties, in other words, the more words a listener is able to identify accurately when said by a particular speaker, the more intelligible the speaker is (Kenworthy, 1990: 13). Therefore the pronunciation of the speaker does not have to be without errors if a listener is able to understand the utterance. Dalton & Seidlhofer (1994: 11) point out that intelligibility is by no means guaranteed by linguistic similarity and phonetic accuracy, but it is often overridden by cultural and economic factors.Consequently, despite the language factors there are other points that can influence the intelligibility such as whether the topic is familiar to both a speaker and a listener or whether the utterance of a speaker is expected by a listener (Online AMEP article published by Macquarie University of Sydney).

As far as intelligibility is concerned, Kenworthy (1990: 14) also points out that other factors can affect a speaker’s utterance e.g. if a learner’s speech is full of self-corrections, hesitations, and grammatical restructurings, then listeners will tend to find what he or she says difficult to follow. AMEP research center views this matter a little bit differently as they state that aspects influencing intelligibility are complex issues ranging from prosody, intonation, word stress, rhythm, syllable structure, segments, and voice quality to phrasing and sense group. The authors further outline that language teaching used to emphasize learning individual sounds rather than focusing on all aspects influencing intelligibility, and point out that recent studies claim that overall prosody, comprising stress, rhythm and intonation, may have greater prominence on intelligibility regardless a learner’s mother tongue.


Factors that Interfere with Correct Pronunciation

Most researchers agree that the learner’s first language influences the pronunciation of the target language and is a significant factor in accounting for foreign accents. So called interference from the first language is likely to cause errors in aspiration, stress, and intonation in the target language. Some Indonesian students tend to have difficulty with English sounds because they are deeply influenced by similar Indonesian sounds. However, they are very different from each other. A particular sound which does not exist in the native language can therefore pose a difficulty for the second language learners to produce or some times to try to substitute those sounds with similar ones in their mother tongue. These sounds include both vowels and consonants.

It is necessary to mention that there are several factors that need to be considered to be potential obstacles for a foreign language learner through acquisition of correct pronunciation. Those factors can be age factor, phonetic ability, lack of practice, motivation, personality or attitude and mother tongue. (Riswanto & Haryanto, 2012).

Underhill (1994: 15) said “sounds and words are the building blocks for connected speech, and specific and detailed work can be done at these levels without losing touch with the fluent speech from which the parts have been extracted.” Actually, sounds are the building blocks for all language skills. The researcher has seen great enthusiasm from teachers for learning, but also experienced resistance to teaching sounds, but sounds of a language are like the foundations of a building, or the roots of a tree. It should not just be B.Ed or M.Ed students who are learning phonology, it is an injustice to teachers who are expected to teach language if they are not given this practical knowledge and an injustice to the children who are struggling to learn.

Similarly, Schmid and Yeni-Komshian (1999), for example, found that native speaker listeners had increased difficulty detecting mispronunciations at the phonemic level as accentedness increased, and Derwing and Rossiter (2003) found similar issues among the experienced listeners in their study. Research has indicated that many teachers lack training and confidence in their expertise in pronunciation learning and teaching (Levis, 2006; Macdonald, 2002).


What is Drilling in Language Teaching?

According to Tice (2004), drilling is a technique that has been used in foreign language classrooms for many years. It was a key feature of audio lingual approaches to language teaching which placed emphasis on repeating structural patterns through oral practice.

At its simplest, drilling means listening to a model, provided by the teacher, or a tape or another student, and repeating what is heard. This is a repetition drill, a technique that is still used by many teachers when introducing new language items to their students. The teacher says (models) the word or phrase and the students repeat it.

Other types of drill include substitution drills, or question and answer drills. Substitution drills can be used to practice different structures or vocabulary items (i.e. one or more words change during the drill).


Prompt: ‘I go to work. He?

Response: ‘He goes to work.’

In question and answer drills the prompt is a question and the response the answer. This is used for practicing common adjacency pairs such as ‘What’s the matter?’, ‘I’ve got a (headache’) or ‘Can I have a (pen) please?’, ‘Yes here you are.’ The words in brackets here can be substituted during the drill.

In all drills learners have no or very little choice over what is said so drills are a form of very controlled practice. There is one correct answer and the main focus is on ‘getting it right’ i.e. on accuracy. Drills are usually conducted chorally (i.e. the whole class repeats) then individually. There is also the possibility of groups or pairs of students doing language drills together.



The researcher focused his study on pronunciation teaching of the voiced and voiceless “th” consonants /ð, θ/ as several previous empirical findings show as well as the researcher himself regards them as the most problematic aspects of pronunciation for Indonesian learners of English. It is important to mention that it was really problematic issue to find relevant previous studies on the current question in terms of Indonesian learners of English. The scholastic sources are limited and therefore most of the examples are often referred to the studies conducted outside the country. Considering the above mentioned alarming matter, the main questions at issue can be concluded as follows:

(1)   Can pronunciation drilling technique improve the sophomores’ pronunciation of /θ/ and /ð/ consonants?

(2)   Can sophomores achieve intelligible pronunciation of /θ/ and /ð/ consonants with ease?


The theoretical part concerns with crucial pronunciation issues as well as the factors that might have potential impact on teaching and learning process of pronunciation and it also provides some suggestions to elevate common pronunciation skills to real enunciation. Furthermore, it also emphasizes the issues of pronunciation in daily communication, the most problematic sounds for Indonesian learners of English as well as responding to certain questions like why pronunciation should be taught that may arise.

The theoretical significance can also be seen in reflecting on the teachers’ and students’ roles and aspects that influence a speaker’s intelligibility. The researcher finds the production of voiced and voiceless consonants /ð, θ/ to be of utmost significance that needs to be studied with the sophomore undergraduate students of English department of the State University of Malang through practicing certain pronunciation drills since these two consonants are representatives of the most difficult sounds in English for Indonesian speakers.

The research gives contribution to the English enunciation where the result of this study can be reference to improve the undergraduate students’ advance in pronunciation skills. For the other readers, the present research can be guidance whenever to investigate the other elements of enunciation issues with University students, especially ones who are enrolled in English departments.

The present study particularly concentrated on the controversial pronunciation issues; particularly concerning improving awareness of the correct pronunciation of certain English sounds such as [s], [z], [t], and [d] distinguishing them from “th” sounds observed in the speeches of the sophomore undergraduates of English department of the State University of Malang through using pronunciation drilling technique. Nevertheless, the research mostly dealt with the correct pronunciation of two problematic English sounds: voiced /ð/ and voiceless /θ/ that are encoded as “th” in written discourses.



The research was an action research to improve the students’ pronunciation of [th] /ð, θ/ sounds through practicing pronunciation drills. According to Bassey (as quoted by Koshy, 2005), action research (AR) is an inquiry which is carried out in order to understand, to evaluate, and then to change, in order to improve the educational practice as well as to provide teacher-researcher with a method for solving his or her everyday teaching problems.This action research was conducted in four cyclical processes: (1) planning, (2) implementing, (3) observing, and (4) reflecting (See table 2.1). The process was stopped in one cycle only as the researcher found out that the students could successfully meet the requirements stated in the success criterion.


Subjects and the Site of the Study

As the site of the study to be conducted, the researcher has selected the State University of Malang which is one of the prominent and accredited Universities in East Java, Indonesia. This University is well-known for its exceptional personnel preparation techniques along with erudite professors. Specifically, the subjects were 25 sophomores (4th semester) of English department of the University. The subjects, coming from four different groups (G, GG, H, and J), formed up a single speaking class at the department. Their ages ranged from 18 to 20. As of the students’ backgrounds, it is important to mention that they came from different parts of Indonesia and learned various local languages, such as Javanese, Madurese, Lomboknese, Balinese, Sundanese, Papuanese, etc., as their first language and that would have impact on their pronunciation of English sounds.

As the researcher found out from various sources, the English department was once found to be one of the best English teacher training institutions in South-East Asia. The subjects as well as the site to conduct the present research were selected according to the researcher’s personal observations, experience, and authentic empirical findings based on the current question at issue.


Research Procedure

In this study, the research procedure involved at least one cycle consisting of planning, acting, observing, and reflecting. The action was stopped when the objectives of the research had been achieved according to the success criterion. The researcher initially conducted a preliminary study as the starting point to conduct this research. The research procedure can be seen in Table1 below.


Table 1: Action Research Procedure (adapted from Kemmis & Mc. Taggart, 2000, cited in Koshy, 2005).

 25 students of the combined speaking class were given a short text which included words with 12 “th”consonants i.e. /ð, θ/ sounds in their pronunciation in order to find out whether the subjects had difficulty with pronouncing them correctly. The short text were read aloud by the subjects in turns and were simultaneously recorded by the researcher for further analysis. The task remained the same with the same conditions till the end of the research.
Findings: Subjects’ pronunciation of [th] /ð, θ/ sounds needs to be improved through remedial activities: exercising drills, minimal pair discrimination, tongue-twisters,   and reading texts.The preliminary study findings are thoroughly stated in the below pages.
Relevant lesson plans, materials (activities, handouts, etc.) multimedia (LCD projector, laptop, speaking dictionary, active speaker), the criteria of success, and research instruments were all prepared.
Four authentic teaching sessions took place based on lesson plans which were aimed at improving the students’ pronunciation of [th] /ð, θ/ sounds through remedial activities: exercising drills, minimal pair discrimination, tongue-twisters, and reading texts. After each two lessons, students underwent 2 recording sessions.
The collected data was analyzed, determined that the actions were successful and reported.


Problem Identification

At this very stage of the study (preliminary study) the researcher wanted to find out whether the presumed question in mind that the sophomores of the English Department, State University of Malang had problems with the pronunciation of voiced and voiceless “th” consonants as there are no same sounds in their mother tongue, was right or not. Second, the researcher wanted to ascertain if the students substitute the “th” sounds with other consonants with a near place of articulation. Lastly, the first recording functioned as an indicator of the initial conditions of the students’ pronunciation of “th” consonants.

The researcher recorded all the 25 students of the speaking class. The class was first introduced to the research questions. Additionally, the entire class got to know with the terms and conditions of the study in its turn. So, there evolved a stable mutual understanding between the class and the researcher before the launch of the research.

The researcher had prepared a short text with at least 12 words containing “th” consonants. Each student was given 10 minutes for preparation so that they could get familiar with the text. After the period of 10 minutes the students were asked to come individually in front of the class where the researcher recorded their readings. The students were required to come individually because the researcher presumed that they would be fully concentrated on the text; moreover, they might be distracted by the other students as well. While the students were reading the text the researcher was carefully recording their voices for further analysis.

After the recordings underwent a careful analysis, the pre-assumed problems were detected in the subjects’ pronunciations: almost all the subjects did not show any positive result. Taking this into account, the researcher began to plan the actions to take and prepared relevant lesson plans which were targeted to improve the subjects’ pronunciation of the “th” sounds. The lesson plans can be found in the appendices of the paper. The preliminary study results of each student are transformed into tables and the overall findings are presented in a graph demonstrating the exact number of correct and incorrect production.

MaksudFigure 1: First recording results.

Taking the results of the first recording in the preliminary study as a whole,the researcher’s initial questions were proven right. In nearly all cases students substituted “th” consonants with the consonants of a near place of articulation. To be specific, two similar sounds /t/ and /d/ superseded the /θ/and /ð/ sounds in most cases. However, there were rare occasions where some students produced /θ/and /ð/ sounds as /s/, /z/, /td/ /ds/, and /dz/. For example, according to the data analyzed from the preliminary study of this research, the word without was pronounced in various different ways. Those include the following unintelligible pronunciation samples of the word without:

/wɪtaʊt/ student 5, 20
/wɪzaʊt/ student 1
/wɪtdaʊt/ student 10
/wɪdsaʊt/ student 9, 13, 14, 19, 21, 22
/wɪdzaʊt/ student 15, 11
/wɪdaʊt/ stdnt 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 16, 17, 18, 21, 23, 25
/wɪ ð aʊt/ student 8, 12, 24

Table 2: Unintelligible pronunciations of the word without by the students in the preliminary study.

As it is obvious from the example above, most of the students have replaced the /ð/ sound with the /d/ sound which is encoded as d consonant in written discourses. It is because the consonant d is pronounced with a near place of articulation to the voiced th. However, there were at least three students who could pronounce the word without correctly as it is supposed to be; yet it does not make a great difference because those successful respondents have failed to pronounce other words correctly. Besides, according to the analysis results of the first recording, some students presented correct pronunciation of certain words too. Nevertheless, it had no such a big power to prevent the research from proceeding to initiate immediate possible treatment on the students’ pronunciation dealing with the problem due to the huge pronunciation issue that showed up in the graph of overall results above. The graph shows that the sample words, such as the, then, there, and another were pronounced totally incorrectly by all 25 subjects. The only word that was pronounced correctly by at least four students was think as it is described in the chart.

In conclusion, there were all 25 subjects present during the first recording.The outcomes seem to be clear and support the researcher’s initial assumption. Students’ real problems with the “th” consonants were finally discovered. Thus, following the results, remedial lessons got a start at the next meeting according to the plan. The results from the second and third recordings can be found in the 3rd chapter of the paper.


The Cycle

The cycle consisted of four consequent stages: planning the action, implementing the action, observing the action, and reflecting the action. The detailed description of each stage is listed below.


Planning the Action

In this stage, the researcher prepared the procedure of using pronunciation drills to improve and correct the subjects’ production of “th” sounds. He prepared the relevant lesson plans to explain how the pronunciation drills can be implemented in teaching pronunciation and achieving the students’ success in producing the correct pronunciation. Furthermore, the researcher set the criterion of success as the guidance of the research’s success. The research instruments were also prepared along with lesson materials (activities, handouts, etc.) and multimedia (LCD projector, laptop, speaking dictionary, active speaker).


Success Criterion

In conducting the research, the criterion of success was crucially important in order to know whether the action was successful or not. Related to the study, the criterion was utilized to see whether the implementation of drilling technique in teaching pronunciation was successful or failed. The students underwent three recordings based on a short text which included 12 words with “th” consonants:

The students think it is possible to pass an exam without getting prepared. They think there is another way to succeed. There is something called “cheating paper” to help them. What if what they thought does not happen through the exam? Then nothing can help them.

The assessment of “th” sounds focused on whether the sounds were pronounced correctly and if not which consonants were used instead of them, the correctly pronounced consonants were ticked in the tables and if the consonants were pronounced incorrectly, a consonant used instead of them was noted down. The overall results are shown in graphs for each recording. In this case, the students’ success was determined according to the following criterion: Each student is able to correctly pronounce at least 10 of those words in the text at the time of final recording.


Research Instruments

The focal instrument to conduct the study was the researcher himself. However, a short text including 12 words each having “th” consonants (/ð/, /θ/ sounds) was prepared by the researcher in order to find out and solve the problem, respectively. The recordings were accomplished on an “iPhone 5” device in three subsequent steps: 1st recording during the preliminary study, the 2nd during the remedial lessons, and the last 3rd recoding after the remedial lessons were over. All those three steps of recordings are compiled on a CD. Additionally, there occurred unstructured interviews between recording events. They involved the researcher wanting to know or find out more about their comprehension and producing the correct pronunciation of those sounds without there being a structure or a preconceived plan or expectation as to how they will deal with that procedure.


Implementing the Action

The implementation of the action was based on the lesson plans and it took four weeks for the remedial lessons and recordings to be accomplished. The schedule of the lessons as well as the recordings can be found in the appendices section of this paper. The researcher himself was the teacher to deliver the remedial lessons through various pronunciation activities such as exercising drills, minimal pair discrimination, tongue-twisters, reading texts on the subjects. After each two remedial lessons there were held recording events to find out whether they perceived the input provided by the teacher-practitioner. The researcher had prepared a short text having 12 words with “th” consonants to be read aloud by the students individually. Their readings were then recorder for further analysis. The short text including the conditions remained the same for further recordings also.

The three pronunciation activities were chosen because of the practice in hearing and saying the “th” consonants, moreover, the words containing “th” consonants are pronounced in two ways and the spelling of “th” does not overlap with pronunciation. During the activities the researcher tried to follow the steps, which are needed when introducing new sounds, proposed by Doff (qtd. in Dalton and Seidlhofer 1994). The necessary steps to follow when students are introduced to new sounds are shown in Table 3 below.


Table 3: Steps taken when introducing new sounds to students according to Doff (qtd. in Dalton and Seidlhofer 1994).

1.Say the sound alone.
2. Say the sound in a word.
3. Contrast it with other sounds.
4. Write the word on a board.
5. Explain how to make the sound.
6. Get students to repeat the sound in chorus.
7. Get individual students to repeat the sound.


Kenworthy (1990) adds that when introducing new sounds students need to hear them together with familiar sounds occurring in their mother tongue.

First, the introductory lesson was only about how to produce the sounds and what happens with our vocal tract during the production. The objectives of the lesson were to explain the basic features of pronunciation and create a friendly and supportive atmosphere in the class. Second, the minimal pair practice activities focused on demonstrating the contrast between the target consonants /θ/ and /ð/ and other consonants with a near place of articulation. These activities helped the students to realize how different the sounds are and therefore, comprehensible pronunciation is needed. Third, tongue twisters were selected because they present the difference between the /θ/ and /ð/ consonants and other sounds; and moreover, they represent activities that are funny and enjoyable for the students. Finally, the usage of the reading texts moved the students beyond repetition and drills as they had to think about the text properly, practice how to say each word and get encouraged to work on their intelligibility.

  1. Observing the Action

Observing the action was intended to obtain the data as the result of the stage of implementing the actions. Observing was chiefly the process of recording and gathering data about any aspects or events which were occurring during the implementation. Generally speaking, the students’ pronunciation of [th] /ð, θ/ sounds based on a short text were recorded after each two remedial lessons.

In collecting the data related to the students’ attendance during the teaching and learning process the attendance record checklist was used. The checklist was later given to the home teacher who preferred to know if her students were all present through the research period. Later, the home teacher asked the researcher’s opinion about her class: how active and interested the students were, what improvement they made, what shortcomings the researcher experienced during the study, and so forth. The sample conversation in the format of Whatsapp chat can be found in the documentation section of this paper.

  1. Reflecting the Action

In this step, all the relevant data from the implementation was analyzed and reviewed to examine if the action was successful or not by matching the observation results with the success criterion. In other words, reflection was intended to see what had been done and what had not been done within the action. In reflecting, data analysis was carried out. The data obtained from the recordings between each two remedial lessons was analyzed. Further explanations on the assessment of the recordings can be seen below.

  1. Assessing the Recordings

Assessing the recordings was a crucial part of the thesis, but it was not an easy task to be done as Celce-Murcia et al (1996) state that in the existing literature on teaching pronunciation, little attention is paid to issues of testing and evaluation. Likewise, in this study the assessment of “th” sounds were assessed by the researcher himself on whether the sounds were pronounced correctly or not. If one of the sounds, either the voiced “th” or the voiceless one were confusedly pronounced using a different similar or dissimilar sounds instead, such as [d], [t], [f], [s], [z], they were immediately noted down in the individual tables. However, the correctly pronounced consonants were shown in ticks (ü). The success percentage of each 12 words included in the short text were shown in interactive graphs.It is important to mention that the researcher used speaking dictionaries, such as Encarta and Longman in assessing the recordings.



Taking the results from the preliminary study into account, the researcher began to take actions based on the lesson plans prepared. The research was conducted during the academic year 2014 while the subjects – 25 combined speaking class attendants coming from four different classes at the English department, G, GG, H, and J classes were in their 4th semester. The remedial lessons were delivered in four meetings for four weeks; specifically, the lessons took place on March 6, 12, 18, and 24, 2014. The recording sessions took place after each two meetings: on March 17 and March 27, 2014.

After a couple of remedial lessons (March 6 and March 12, 2014) devoted to the practice of /θ/and /ð/ consonants were delivered to the subjects, they were recorded again for the second time (March 17, 2014) to see whether the activities applied through the two previous lessons were already showing their efficiency on the subjects. The students were provided with exactly the same text which was used in the preliminary study. Similarly, the conditions also remained the same as they were during the first recording that is reading the short text aloud to get their speeches recorded.

According to the consequent steps that were supposed to be taken through the research procedure, the next action in the plan was continuing delivering the remedial lessons consisting of various pronunciation activities dealing with /θ/and /ð/ sounds practice as shown in the lesson plans. After two active and encouraging lessons (March 18 and March 24, 2014), the students underwent the last recording session on March 27, 2014. The text,conditions and the process of recording remained completely the same as they were during the previous two recordings.

The assessment of the recordings during the observation process are thoroughly described on the following section.


  1. Second Recording

During the period between the first and second recording the students got familiar with “th” consonant production and were exposed to several activities that were devoted to pronunciation practise of “th” sounds.

First, they students were explained how “th” consonants are produced. Then they were provided with opportunities to practice their production. The aims of the activity were to raise students’ awareness about the ways the consonants are produced and to focus their attention to their production.

Second, students were working with minimal pair practice activities.These activities helped them with discrimination of “th” sounds from other consonants with a near place of articulation. The objectives of these exercises were to assist students with realization of the differences in pronunciation of “th” consonants and other consonants, to raise their awareness of “th” sounds production and to provide them with opportunities to practice the sounds. Moreover, both activities demonstrated how intelligibility is important during communication process.

On March 17, 2014 the students were recorded again. At this stage the researcher wanted to find out whether they still had problems with pronunciation of “th”consonants or whether their pronunciation improved and if yes which “th”sounds were pronounced correctly, whether those that occur in the initial,middle or final position.

Like the results from the first recording, the results of the second recording of each student were also transformed into tables. The tables offer an opportunity to compare how the pronunciation of individual “th” sounds changed. Tables can be found in the appendices. The overall findings are presented in a graph demonstrating the percentage rate of correct answers.


Figure 2: Second recording results.

The graph above shows that the students showed significant results during the second recording unlike the first recording results. It means that two remedial lessons during the period between the first and second recordings were advantageous for the students. The words think, nothing, they, something, through, without, them, and thought were pronounced correctly by most of the students during the second recording. However, the words like the, then, there, and another were incorrectly pronounced by the majority of the subjects. This means the students were still experiencing difficulty with the pronunciation of the voiced “th” because most of them did well in pronouncing the voiceless one as it is also clear from the graph above. In this part, students’ pronunciation based on the comparison of the two recordings will be analyzed.


Student 1, 8, 12, 18:

These students showed better results compared with other respondents during the first recording. Like any other respondent in the second recording, most of them did well in pronouncing voiceless “th” consonant. Taking the results from the table we can say that their pronunciation was improved significantly till the time of second recording.


Student 2, 4, 21, 22, 24:

These are the students who could pronounce at least one word correctly in the first recording. Nontheless, based on the results from the table we can say that their pronunciation showed noteworthy improvement during the second recording. It can be seen on the individual tables in the appendices.


Student 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 23, 25:

These students produced the most problematic “th” sounds pronunciation during the first recording. However, the results of the second recording show that their awareness of the sounds has significantly improved. Most of them could correctly pronounce the words with voiceless “th” consonant. Though their results are getting improved, they still need to be aware of the voiced “th” consonant pronunciation as most of them are still experiencing difficulties.

To conclude, the analysis of the first and second recording, in terms of improvement of “th” sounds pronunciation, demonstrates that pronunciation of the voiceless “th” consonant is easier for the students than pronunciation of the voiced one. The students were able to improve their pronunciation of the consonant mainly in the initial and middle positions, but on the other hand pronunciation of the word another was not improved at all. There was only one student, namely student 2 (AN) who pronounced the word correctly. There were some students who changed the certain sounds to other sounds pronounced with a near place of articulation during the second recording. Nevertheless, as far as the voiced “th” sounds is concerned, pronunciation was slightly improved as well, mainly in the initial position.

  1. Third recording

The period between the second and third recording was filled up with activities aimed at further correction of “th” consonants.

The first set of activities was devoted to tongue twisters. The objectives of using the tongue twisters were to provide the students with funny and enjoyable drilling exercises in order to practice pronunciation of the target sounds.

The second set was aimed at oral reading text. During these activities the students were exposed to two reading texts containing not only “th”consonants but also consonants with a near place of articulation. The main focus was paid to sustaining correct pronunciation and to demonstrate howunintelligible pronunciation can change the meaning of the texts.

On March 27, 2014 the students underwent the last recording.The findings of the third recording are stated in tables that were created foreach student and the final finding are noted in a graph demonstrating the percentage of correct answers.

Figure 3: Third recording results.

From the graph showing the students’ final results above, it can be concluded that the students were able to improve their pronunciation of both voiced and voiceless “th” consonants in no more than one cycle. The highest improvements were noted in both initial, middle positions. However, there still were some students, such as student 3 (PAR), student 16 (SF), student 17 (BYP), student 20 (ZP), student 22 (MHRH), and 23 (MRF) who could successfully meet the success criterion set by the researcher at the beginning of the research but presented at least one or two unintelligible pronunciation of certain words. Those are noted down in the corresponding tables respectively.Except for the student 17 (BYP) who unintelligibly pronounced the word through in the final recording, every student pronounced the voiceless “th” consonant i.e. /θ/ properly in all positions.On the other hand, the above mentioned students who provided at least one or two mispronunciation of “th” consonants in the 3rd recording experienced complexity with the voiced “th” consonant i.e. /ð/ in all three positions. They are shown in the corresponding individual tables above. The words which were not pronounced intelligibly are the, they, then, there, them, and another. Those five students were stuck to substituting the /ð/ sound with /d/ in most cases. Nevertheless, due to the fact that they made at least one mistake and managed to successfully meet the success criterion, it was not regarded as a considerable issue to proceed to the next cycle.Generally speaking, as far as the two voiced and voiceless “th” consonants: /θ/ and /ð/ are concerned, the results show that a major progress was made during a single cycle since the students were exposed to a wide range of pronunciation drilling activities through the remedial classes. It is important to mention that the remedial classes which occurred between the recordings were conducted in rather prolonged hours because the students showed a great enthusiasm toward the pronunciation practice activities and all of them had some sort of passion to improve their pronunciation of “th” consonants which are normally regarded as the most problematic English sounds for a non-native speaker. Therefore, the researcher had to expand the pre-planned lesson plans adding more similar pronunciation drilling activities which are not necessarily mentioned in the original lesson plans in order to equip the students with more skills of the intelligible practice of the problematic /θ/ and /ð/ sounds through using pronunciation drills, such as minimal pair discrimination, tongu-twisters, and reading texts respectively.



The discussion deals with the discussion of the findings presented in the previous chapter, principally the importance of pronunciation intelligibility for the EFL learners as well as the crucial role of pronunciation drills in attaining intelligibility. The discussion covers the procedures of the remedial lessons conducted during the research as well as their effectiveness on the subjects in relation to the existing theoretical and empirical evidence.


  1. English Pronunciation and the Target of Comfortable Intelligibility

As presented in the previous chapters, it was found out that almost all of the subjects have a problem when it comes to intelligible pronunciation of certain English sounds, particularly the two /θ/ and /ð/ sounds which majority of EFL learners consider to be one of the most problematic English sounds to produce. Hence, the researcher decided to give a treatment to the subjects’ unintelligible pronunciation of “th” consonants through conducting several remedial lessons applying pronunciation drilling technique in order to support them to achieve more intelligible production of /θ/ and /ð/ sounds of English. Let’s start the discussion with some theoretical support on comfortable intelligibility in pronunciation.

Morley (1991) states that the goal of pronunciation should be changed from the achievement of perfect pronunciation to the more realistic goals of developing functional intelligibility, communicability, increased self-confidence, the development of speech monitoring abilities and speech modification strategies for use beyond the classroom. Abercrombie (1991) describes comfortable intelligibility as pronunciation which can be understood with little or no conscious effort on the part of listener. Morley (1991) also states that the overall aim is for the learner to develop spoken English that is easy to understand, serves the learner’s individual needs, and allows a positive image as a speaker of a foreign language. Additionally, the learner needs to develop awareness and monitoring skills that will allow learning opportunities outside the classroom environment. Obviously, creating a stronger connection between pronunciation and communication can help enhance learners’ motivation by bringing pronunciation to a level of intelligibility and encouraging learners’ awareness of its potential as a tool for making their language not only easier to understand but more effective (Jones, 2002).

Pronunciation is clearly a central factor in learners’ success in making themselves understood (Elson, 1992). Morley(1991) also states that intelligible pronunciation is an essential component of communication competence that teachers should include in courses and expect learners to do well. The ability to employ stress,intonation, and articulation in ways that support comprehension is a skill that for learners from many language backgrounds will only come slowly. Elson (1992) urges that learners need to be encouraged to immerse themselves in the target language and to persist in spite of the difficulties that are part of the language-learning process. The experience of unintelligibility or incomprehension grows larger because of sensitivity to ‘correctness’ or the need to communicate successfully in the target language. The speaker’s self image and sense of accomplishment is closely bound to understanding and being understood. The result can be a high degree of frustration for the speaker or listener who might see each moment of incomprehension as a personal fault and responsibility. Klyhn (1986) observes that learners should be made aware that every message they utter needs to be understood.

  1. Individual Sounds Teaching and Its Application in the First Remedial Lesson

In terms of teaching individual sounds, most significant techniques suggested are minimal pairs, drilling, taping students’ speech to compare with each other as well as with a fixed model, choral pronunciation, lip-reading, classifying words according to their consonant, varying their criterion of “good” in pronunciation teaching(Kelly, 2003; Hewings, 2004; Lewis & Hill, 1992). Similarly, in the present study, the researcher has applied almost all of the above-mentioned techniques as key strategies to collect data as well as a means of improving the subjects’ pronunciation enabling them to achieve more intelligible English pronunciation.

As a compilation from materials of different sources, To et al. (2006) suggested a number of techniques of teaching sounds which are minimal pairs, and pronunciation games employing phonemic alphabet. Those ones have been suggested in view of Communicative Teaching approach. Vu (2008) proved that (1) Eliciting and Telling, (2) Minimal pairs, (3) Phonemic chart, (4) Exposure to English language are four really effective techniques to correct students’ mispronunciation. Those techniques are time-saving, therefore, suit well with the time limitation in class when pronunciation is integrated in speaking lessons.

During the first remedial lesson, the teaching method focused the students’ attention to the production of “th” consonant sounds. The main goals of the activities were to provide learners with an opportunity to practice the sounds in isolation, help them to fix the pronunciation and gain a control over the production. Moreover, students were given an opportunity to practice pronunciation of the problematic sounds. Since the activities were playful and entertaining students were actively involved from the very beginning and moreover, these activities helped them breakdown the initial fear of pronunciation. The only problem some students experienced was occasional substitution of /ð/ and /θ/ with /s/, /z/, /t/ or /d/. In this case the researcher followed the tip with the chewing gum suggested by Kenworthy (1990). The researcher told the students to position the gum on the roof of the mouth immediately behind the upper front teeth; for s/, /z/, /t/ and /d/ the tip of the tongue has to touch the gum; for “th” they must avoid it (Kenworthy, 1990). The researcher found her idea with a chewing gum extremely helpful as it offers an aid suitable for acquiring the postures needed for pronunciation of /ð/ and /θ/. After the introductory lesson the students felt more relaxed and familiar with the form and production of the sounds. Later, the second class concentrated on minimal pair discrimination.


  1. Minimal Pair Discrimination and Its Application in the Second Lesson


Minimal pairs have been defined in several ways.

(1)   Minimal pairs are “pairs of words that differ in meaning on the basis of a change in only one sound” (Avery & Ehrlich, 1995).

(2)   “A first rule of thumb to determine the phones of any language is to see whether substituting one sound for other results in a different word. If it does, the two sounds represent different phones. When two different forms are identical in every way except for one sound segment that occurs in the same place in the string, the two words are called a minimal pairs” (Fromkin & Rodman, 1993).

(3)   “A minimal pair consists of two words pronounced alike except for a single phonemic difference. A phoneme is the smallest unit of significantly distinctive sound. The phonemic difference is responsible for radical changes in the meaning of the word, as in hat-hit or thing-sing. Consequently, errors in auditory discrimination and/or articulation of these sounds may result in misunderstanding and misinterpretations of the meaning of the word, phrase or sentence”(Nilsen & Nilsen, 1973).

When properly employed, minimal pairs effectively facilitate pronunciation acquisition. The good cases in point are lessons and exercises designed by Baker (2006)in the two textbooks entitled Tree or Three and Sheep or Ship;and by Baker & Goldstein (2008) in the textbook entitled Pronunciation Pairs. These two authors share and illustrate the view that “language teachers can improve their students’ pronunciation markedly drilling minimal pairs in order to help them improve their intelligibility” (Hansen, 1995). When learners compare and contrast discrete sounds in the environment presented in minimal pairs, the importance of these sounds in denoting word meaning is transferred to their mind naturally.Experience shows that “pronunciation classes… make students more conscious of their own pronunciation and aware of ways in which their pronunciation differs from the model offered” (Rajadurai, 2001).

The teaching sequences applied through the remedial lessons were examples of pronunciation drilling activities. Moreover, in the second lesson, they were used to raise learners’ awareness of pronunciation and discrimination of /θ/ and /ð/ and the consonants with a near place of articulation. During the second stage students revised the problematic consonants /θ/ and /ð/ in order to establish accurate pronunciation and focus on them. The researcher prepared an interesting musical activity which enabled the students to practice the minimal pairs discrimination in a fun way. However, there were choir repeating and other similar tasks, additionally. The third stage served for realizing the difference between /θ/, /ð/ and consonants with a near place of articulation. The expected outcome was that the students would not have any major problems during any stage; although the last step was more complex they would not face up any difficulties and were able to distinguish the words correctly. The goals of those activities were to provide students with as much practice as possible in order to help them improve their pronunciation and show them how intelligibility is important during communication because mispronunciation of “th” sounds can lead into misunderstanding between a speaker and a listener. However, majority of the students were still having problems dealing with the pronunciation of the “th” sounds, particularly with the voiced “th” in most cases. Hence, the remedial lessons were kept undertaken further in order to achieve the expected result.

Actually, minimal pairs are a more serious problem than simple poor pronunciation or listening skills on the part of a student. This is because mistakes with minimal pairs do not simply impair understanding; they can lead students to believe that they understand when in fact they are quite mistaken. These kinds of mistakes can hamper their conversation skills in the obvious way that they are difficult to understand, but it can also affect their confidence and thus their inclination to even try to communicate in the first place.

The problem with helping students with minimal pairs is that it is not as simple as teaching a rule and then reinforcing it with an exercise and/or homework. This simply does not provide enough practice to enable to students to learn and become competent with new phonetics. Though minimal pairs are addressed by many language learning texts, they generally do so in a brief, one time activity or some simple repetition. Though this is better than nothing, this does little to aid students in gaining any lasting improvement in either listening or pronunciation. Minimal pairs need to be seen as a problem to be dealt with over a longer period.


  1. Tongue Twisters and Texts: Their Application in the 3rd and 4th Lessons

During the third meeting on March 18, 2014 the subjects were exposed to tongue twisters practice. Tongue twisters concentrated on accurate production and helped the students to improve their pronunciation skills. This step gave the students an opportunity to hear the sentences over and over so that they could fix the correct pronunciation of “th” consonants. As far as the last step concerned, students had to focus on faultless pronunciation. Since the texts did not only contain “th” consonants but also consonants with a near place of articulation and therefore the meaning of them would be changed completely. The objective of the tongue twisters was to help the students realize how important accurate pronunciation is through enjoyable activities. The results taken from the second recording showed that the students presented better results in contrast to the previous recording results. Nevertheless, there was one more step to go according to the lessons planned. Thus, the researcher went on conducting the remedial lessons further.

Tongue twisters are one of the few types of spoken wordplay that are fun to recite and are a great tool to aid learner’s language development.Attempting to recite a tricky rhyme or tongue twister as fast as possible without tripping over one’s tongue is a great challenge. For example, if one tries to recite this tongue twister “The thirty-three thieves thought that they thrilled the throne throughout Thursday a sample tricky one used in the remedial lesson and he/she can’t help but smile and enjoy the race to get it right. So did the subjects when they were exposed to similar activities. The tongue twisters used in the remedial lesson usually relied on alliteration – the repetition of a sound starting with a similar letter – with a phrase designed such that it is made very easy to slip (hence the fun).Tongue twisters are not only a linguistic fun and game but serve a practical purpose for language and speech development. For example, tongue twisters may be used by foreign students of English to improve their accent and speech pathologists often use them as a tool to help those with speech difficulties.

Brook suggests the following advantageous applications of tongue twisters to improve one’s pronunciation proficiency:

(1)   to target articulation, select tongue twisters featuring phonemes that are particularly difficult for your learners, for example if they have trouble making the hard ‘t’ sound, practice tongue twisters that use that particular alliteration.

(2)   to bolster confidence, select tongue twisters featuring phonemes your learners are particularly good at. To really make them laugh, the teacher can recite tongue twisters with phonemes they are bad at.

(3)   to make a game of it, print out a bunch of tongue twisters, cut them into individual strips, put the strips in a basket, have each player draw one, and award points based on how few repetitions are needed to master it.

(4)   to work on speed, add a stopwatch to the game and make the player who can recite the twister correctly in the shortest time the winner of each round.

(5)   to motivate your learners, use tongue twisters as “Get Out of Time-Out Free” cards; if your learners can recite one correctly, they are sprung.

Likewise, similar techniques were actively involved in the third remedial lesson. It was obvious that the students had fun with the tongue twisters provided. The classroom was full of laughter and shouts as the students were trying to get the tongue twisters right. Finally, after individual and choir practices along with the recorded samples, they could get the tricky tongue twisters right in their pronunciations. Later, in order to make sure that the students would come up with better results, the researcher applied reading texts in the last meeting on March 24, 2014. The students were once again aware of the both voiced and voiceless “th” consonants seeing their differences with the words which are pronounced with a near articulation in oral speech. The reading text activity was rather complex and therefore the researcher decided to use it as the last activity before the final recording. The reading text gave the students the opportunity to work on their pronunciation as a whole because the texts did not only contain the target “th” sounds but also other consonants with a near place of articulation and therefore mispronunciation of /θ/ and /ð/ would make them unintelligible. At this stage it was extremely important to provide the students with an appropriate and constructive feedback. Since as stated earlier, students were not able to assess their pronunciation. The inability to assess their pronunciation could lead to wrong assumptions about their pronunciation. Those wrong assumptions could make their speech unintelligible for a listener. The main aims of the activity were to revise pronunciation of the target “th” consonants and get used to their production.

All the pronunciation drilling activities applied through the remedial lessons finally proved their efficiency in at least one cycle without the necessity for proceeding to the next cycle. In the preliminary study, the subjetcs’ pronunciation of the two voiced and voiceless “th” consonants lacked intelligibility; however, after they had been exposed to interactive and interesting drilling activities, they have achieved better results and could meet the success criterion set by the researcher. The students were enthusiastic showing an exceptional interest and encouragement toward improving their pronunciation with the researcher and they did their utmost to attain intelligibility in their speeches. It is important to mention that the student 5 had the most unintelligible pronunciation of the both “th” sounds since the beginning of the study. Nevertheless, she came up with the best result by the final recording.



The final thesis has chiefly dealt with the improvement and correction of “th”consonants pronunciation that contribute to the intelligibility of non-native students of English, distinctively, the somphomores of the speaking class at the department of English, State University of Malang.

In the theoretical part, namely in the 1st chapter features of pronunciation and the potentially problematic sounds for the Indonesian learners of English were outlined in general. In this part, the researcher also inquires about the reasons for teaching pronunciation and how intelligibility of learners is important in everyday communication. Furthermore,since pronunciation teaching is still being neglected and for some reasons it is normally pushed to the margins of the language teaching, teachers’ and students’ rolesare also presented in the theoretical part. Moreover, the part presents factors that influence pronunciation acquisition. Lastly, attention was paid to the intelligible production of “th” consonants and characteristic features of them were thoroughly outlined.

In the practical part, however,the researcher aimed to present the actual research on improving and correcting the sophomores’ pronunciation of “th” sounds. In order to prove that the initial assumptions and the research questions were correct the researcher asked all the 25 subjects to undergo three recordings. The first recording proved the initial assumptions to be right since the students were not able to pronounce “th” consonants correctly.

On the basis of the finding from the first recording in the preliminary study, the researcher framed various pronunciation activities aimed at “th” consonants practice. During the pronunciation activities the students were introduced to the production of “th”consonants and exposed to pronunciation practice of them through the application of pronunciation drills. Then the students were recorded again to enable the researcher to compare the first and second recordings together. At this stage of the research the researcher focused on how “th”consonants were pronounced and if they were mispronounced which consonants were used instead. After the second recording, the students worked on other pronunciation practice activities and then they were recorded for the last time. Subsequently, the researcher compared all three recordings together in order to answer the research questions. On the basis of the results from the analysis of the recordings,the initial assumption was proved wrong; on the other hand, the research questions whether the sophomore undergraduates of the English department, State University of Malang were able to improve their pronunciation of /θ/ and /ð/ consonants and if those sophomores of the English department, State University of Malang achieve faultless pronunciation of /θ/ and /ð/consonants were in fact proved right. Since the students’ pronunciation of the both /θ/ and /ð/ was successfully corrected, the researcher decided to draw a conclusion within one cycle only.

Nevertheless, the findings from the research demonstrate that factors influencing pronunciation acquisition, such as age of the students or the mother tongue do play an important role in pronunciation learning process.On the other hand, systematic and continual work on pronunciation can help learners to become more intelligible.

To conclude, assessing the students’ pronunciation turned to be the most complicated and demanding part of the research since the researcher found it to be very difficult to set which sounds can still be considered as correct and which cannot. However, in this case, the researcher addressed the trusted speaking dictionaries in order to make the evaluation substantially fair.



Having the present opportunity, the researcher would like to address the English teachers, students, as well as the schools in Indonesia with certain suggestions which could be drawn from the current research. The preliminary study results of the present research gave the researcher less positive impressions. Although the University students majoring in English were in their 4th semester of study their pronunciation intelligibility was still under the common standards.

According to a number of scholarly sources that are mostly introduced in the theoretical part, pronunciation intelligibility of a non-native speaker of English is crucially important in making comprehensible communications. Since pronunciation is a complex and important part of learning and teaching process teachers need to set goals and aims they want to achieve with their students. As perfect accents are difficult if not impossible to achieve in foreign language(Ur, 1984) the goal of teachers should be making their students be easily understandable when communicating with other people. The speaking class teachers would better pay more attention to the practice of individual English sounds with which most of their students seem like experiencing difficulty in pronunciation. Even though several linguists argue that the pronunciation drilling techniques are rather old-fashioned method of teaching pronunciation, based on the results of the present study, however, the researcher believes that this technique is at least useful in teaching individual sounds. Therefore, the speaking class teachers have to apply more pronunciation drilling activities in order enable their students achieve an intelligible English pronunciation. The language teachers have to improve their own pronunciations first as their students see them as models from whom they learn correct pronunciation.

Likewise, the students are also suggested to be more aware of their speech intelligibility in the English language. Once they are aware, they would be willing to exercise more and gradually improve their pronunciation through constant practicing the difficult sounds like “th” consonants which were the focal issue of the present research. Additionally, the students need to be aware of their academic and social future considering English to be an international language. Once they have rather intelligible command of English, they would stand out among their fellow workers and achieve more than anyone with unintelligible speech in the English language. In order to achieve this, they need to be exposed to regular pronunciation practice at schools.

Lastly but most importantly, the schools as well as their curricula are equally responsible factors which can greatly contribute to the spoken English language intelligibility level of their students. The Indonesian schools have to include more speaking classes in their curricula in order to enable the students to achieve more intelligible English pronunciation at an early age when they are still more motivated and encouraged to learn and discover. Additionally, more similar researches need to be undertaken on the English pronunciation and its intelligibility issues in the Indonesian context and contribute to the development of teaching and learning process of the English language in the country. The future researchers are suggested to feel free to make use of the present research findings and investigate more and deeper in the similar fields.



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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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Makna Angka 6 dalam Perspektif Orang Sabu “Suatu Studi Semiotika Bilangan”

oleh: Hentji Kadja , Felysianus Sanga dan Marselus Robot
Universitas Nusa Cendana Kupang



Penelitian ini bertujuan untuk memperoleh deskripsi yang sistematis dan lengkap mengenai makna angka 6 dalam perspektif orang Sabu. Teori analisis wacana kritis dan hermeneutika digunakan untuk memahami makna bilangan 6 dalam bilangan tradisi, serta teori semiotika Pierce dan Barthes. Metode deskriptif kualitatif digunakan untuk mendeskripsikan makna bilangan bilangan tradisi.Berdasarkian hasil analisis semiosis Pierce dan Barthes yang dilakukan peneliti ditemukan bahwa, perspektif orang Sabu angka 6 merupakan bilangan pembagian kekuasaan wilayah secara adil, dan persekutuan kekeluargaan dan persaudaraan dalam semangat jiwa yang murni. Makna bilangan 6 tradisi adalah seorang manusia menggunakan kekuasaan secara adil dalam semangat persekutuan kekeluargaan dan persaudaraan dalam jiwa yang murni, bila diulangi tiga kali akan menunjukkan sifat egoisme dan penonjolan diri yang serakah akan kekuasaan. Pada akhirnya disimpulkan bahwa orang Sabu memandang bilangan 6 sebagai bilangan kekuasaan adalah “manusia sebagai makhluk yang mulia diberi kekuasaan yang terbatas untuk mengatur alam semesta ini”.

 Kata Kunci : Makna Angka, Bilangan Tradisi , Semiotik, Kekuasaan, dan Keserakahan


 This study aims to gain a complete and systematic description about meaning of number 6 based on Savuness perception. Theory of Critical Discourse Analysis and Hermeneutics are assessed to understand meaning of number 6 based on Savuness perception, as well as semiotics theory of Pierce and Barthes. Descriptive qualitative method is assessed to describe meaning of tradition number. Based on the Pierce and Barthes semiotics analysis done researcher. Found that perspective of Savuness, 6 is a number for dividing equitable power area, and it also has a meaning of brothership federation in pure soul spirit. The meaning of number 6, traditionally is a number of a human who use his power in justice for brother ship federation in a pure soul spirit. When this number is repeated three times, will show a greedy character and egoism of power. Finally, it is concluded that Savuness percept number 6 in as an authority number, is “human as honorable creature was given limited authority to organize this universe”.

 Keyword: Meaning of Number, Hermeneutics, Semiotics, Power, and Greed




Pythagoras (memandang alam berkaitan erat dengan matematika sedangkan segala sesuatu di dalamnya adalah angka. Angka memiliki makna yang khusus dan memiliki pengaruh dalam kehidupan manusia, karena mereka percaya adanya kekuatan baik dan buruk. Dengan mengonversikan setiap unsur alam menjadi angka maka keteraturan dan sifat alam serta fenomena yang terjadi dapat dipahami. Pythagoras berpendapat bahwa segala sesuatu adalah bilangan-bilangan. Betapa pun luasnya alam semesta ini, unsur-unsur dan setiap perubahan di dalamnya dapat ditentukan dengan satuan-satuan bilangan. Sebagai percobaan, Pythagoras menggunakan dawai mono chord (dawai yang memiliki senar tunggal). Setiap perubahan panjang senar dengan perbandingan yang tetap (1:2; 2:3; 3:4) menghasilkan nada berbeda untuk setiap perbandingan, namun kedengarannya sangat harmonis. Keempat bilangan (satu, dua, tiga, dan empat) atau keempat angka (1, 2, 3, dan 4) disebut tetraktus, dan dianggap suci oleh kaum Pythagorean. Menurut mereka, setiap perubahan di alam semesta ini dapat dicocokkan dengan kategori-kategori matematis. Suara dawai dengan ukuran-ukuran tertentu dapat dikatakan dalam bilangan atau angka. Setiap perubahan yang terjadi di alam semesta ini dapat dinyatakan dengan bilangan-bilangan atau angka-angka (Netty 2012: ix – x)

Bilangan sepuluh, atau angka 10, sudah dianggap sebagai bilangan, atau angka sempurna, yang didapat dengan menjumlahkan 4 angka yang pertama dikenal manusia, yaitu angka 1,2,3, dan 4, yang bersama disebut tetraktus. Pada zaman Pythagoras, orang sudah mengenal planet-planet yang berjumlah 9 (Mercury, Venus, Bumi, Mars, Jupiter, Saturnus, Uranus, Neptunus, Pluto) yang dihisabkan lagi “bola api” (matahari) ke dalamnya sehingga menjadi 10 siarah. Demikianlah orang mengenal bilangan pokok yang dilambangkan dengan angka-angka 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, dan 10 sebagai bilangan yang sempurna menurut Pythagoras (Syahrul: 2012). Dapat disimpulkan secara simbolik segala sesuatu yang terjadi di alam semesta ini memiliki keteraturan dan mempengaruhi kehidupan manusia.

Misteri atau makna angka dijumpai pula dalam masyarakat Nusa Tenggara Timur (NTT). Masyrakat NTT yang multi etnis juga mengenal angka berkaitan dengan alam semesta, kelahiran dan sifat serta karakter manusia. Di NTT terdapat 45 sistem bilangan basis yang tersebar dan dapat dikelompokkan dalam 6 kelompok sosial berdasarkan jumlah bilangan pokok yakni: (1) kelompok yang memiliki bilangan pokok 1 sampai 10. (2) Kelompok yang memiliki bilangan pokok 1 sampai 9. (3) Kelompok yang memiliki bilangan pokok 1 sampai 8. (4) Kelompok yang memiliki bilangan pokok 1 sampai 7. (5) Kelompok yang memiliki bilangan pokok 1 sampai 6. (6) Kelompok yang memiliki bilangan pokok 1 sampai 5. (Sanga: 1996) Masyarakat Sabu juga mengenal jumlah bilangan.

Masyarakat Sabu dikenal dengan orang Sabu yang tersebar di Kabupaten Sabu Raijua, Kabupaten Kupang, Kota Kupang, Sumba, dan daerah lainnya di NTT. Mereka hidup secara berkelompok dalam suatu wilayah tertentu. Istilah Sabu adalah istilah nama yang lazim dipakai secara umum oleh masyarakat Sabu, sedangkan istilah Sawu merujuk pada satu konsep yang sama. Kedua istilah ini dipakai dengan istilah Sabu karena sesuai kelaziman masyarakat menyebutnya.

Sanga (1996: 21)[2] mendeskripsikan kelompok etnis Sabu memiliki jumlah bilangan pokoknya sembilan. Dalam kepercayaan Jingitiu[3] dikenal Penguasa tertinggi bagi mereka hanya satu yang dinamakanDeo AmaatauDeo Muri Mara(=Tuhan yang ada dengan sendirinya). Sapaan tradisional untuk penguasa tertinggi itu adalah:

Deo do manga pa do keale, deo do pe pa kolo ngalhu =
Tuhan yang berdiam di tempat yang tidak pasti, tempat di mana Tuhan dapat mengawasi seluruh alam semesta ini, bukan di langit, bukan di bumi, melainkan di atas angin.

Dalam keyakinan Jingitiu, diakui enam langkah penciptaan oleh Deo Ama: (1) Mula-mula Tuhan menjadikan alam semesta; (2) Dengan bahan dari alam semesta Tuhan menciptakan Ai Deo (air Tuhan); (3) Dari Ai Deo terbentuklah Ra Ai (darah air); (4) Dari Ra Ai terbentuklah Woro Ra (buih darah); (5) Woro Ra membentuk Ai Woro (air buih); (6) Dengan Ai Woro inilah Tuhan membentuk manusia (Sanga 1996 ).

Berdasarkan uraian diatas penulis tertarik untuk membahas makna angka 6 dalam perspektif orang Sabu dalam kaitannya dengan kitab Wahyu. Jika demikian penulis berpendapat: Makna Angka 666 akan mudah diterima masyarakat etnis Sabu, apabila filosofis makna bilangan tradisi dipahami oleh masyarakat etnis Sabu.

Berdasarkan latar belakang di atas, masalahyang diangkat dalam tulisan ini adalah makna apakah yang terkandung melalui penggunaan simbolik permainan angka 6?,dalam pandangan masyarakat etnis Sabu?. Bertujuan untuk memperoleh deskripsi yang sistematis dan lengkap mengenai makna angka 666 dalam perspektif orang Sabu. Serta bermanfaat dapatmemberikan pemahaman yang tepat mengenai variasi angka 666serta kaitannya dengan kepercayaan dan keyakinan masyarakat etnis Sabu.

Kajian Teori


Secara etimologis Hermeneutik berasal dari kata Yunani: Hermeneuein yang berarti menafsirkan. Istilah hermeneutik mencakup dua hal, yaitu seni dan teori tentang pemahaman dan penafsiran terhadap simbol-simbol baik yang kebahasaan maupun yang nonkebahasaan. Paul Ricoeur dari latar belakang pandangan katholik, definisi yang pasti tentang hermeneutik adalah teori pengoperasian pemahaman dalam hubungannya dengan interpretasi terhadap teks (Ricoeur, 1985:43).Setiap kata merupakan sebuah simbol yang penuh dengan makna dan intensi yang tersembunyi.Jadi tidaklah heran jika menurut Riceour tujuan hermeneutik adalah menghilangkan misteri yang terdapat dalam sebuah simbol dengan cara membuka selubung daya-daya yang belum diketahui dan tersembunyi di dalam simbol-simbol tersebut (Montifiore, 1983:192)Ada tiga langkah pemahaman menurut Ricoeur, yaitu yang berlangsung dari penghayatan atas simbol-simbol ke gagasan tentang ‘berpikir dari’ simbol-simbol.Pemahaman pada dasarnya adalah ‘cara berada’ (mode of being) atau ‘cara menjadi’ hanya bisa terjadi pada tingkat pengetahuan yaitu pada teori tentang pengetahuan atau Erkenntnistheorie yakni: 1)Pemahaman dari simbol ke simbol,2)Pemberian makna oleh simbol serta penggalian yang cermat atas makna,3)Langkah yang benar-benar filosofis yaitu berpikir dengan menggunakan simbol sebagai titik tolaknya.Pemahaman yang pada dasarnya adalah ‘cara berada’ (mode of being) atau ‘cara menjadi’ hanya bisa terjadi pada tingkat pengetahuan yaitupadateori tentang pengetahuan atau Erkenntnistheorie.


Secara terminologis, semiotik adalah cabang ilmu yang berurusan dengan dengan pengkajian tanda dan segala sesuatu yang berhubungan dengan tanda, seperti sistem tanda dan proses yang berlaku bagi tanda (van Zoest, 1993:1). Semiotik adalah studi yang tidak hanya merujuk pada tanda (signs) dalam percakapan sehari -hari, tetapi juga segala sesuatu yang merujuk pada bentuk-bentuk lain seperti words,images, sounds, gesture, dan objects. Sementara de Saussure menyebut ilmu ini dengan semiologi yakni sebuah studi tentang aturan tanda –tanda sebagai bagian dari kehidupan sosial (a science which studies the role of signs as a part of social life). Bagi Peirce (1931), semiotics was formal doctrine of signs which was closely related to logic. Tanda menurut Peirce adalah something which stands to somebody for something in some respect or capacity. Kemudian ia juga mengatakan bahwa every thought is a sign. Van Zoest (1993) memberikan lima ciri dari tanda. Pertama, tanda harus dapat diamati agar dapat berfungsi sebagai tanda. Kedua, tanda harus ‘bisa ditangkap’ merupakan syarat mutlak. Ketiga, merujuk pada sesuatu yang lain, sesuatu yang tidak hadir. Keempat, tanda memiliki sifat representatif dan sifat ini mempunyai hubungan langsung dengan sifat inter-pretatif. Kelima, sesuatu hanya dapat merupakan tanda atas dasar satu dan lain. Peirce menyebutnya dengan ground (dasar, latar) dari tanda.

Model tanda dikemukakan Peirce (dalam Hoed, 2002:21) adalah trikotomis atau triadik, dan tidak memiliki ciri-ciri struktural sama sekali. Prinsip dasarnya adalah bahwa tanda bersifat reprsentatif yaitu tanda adalah sesuatu yang mewakili sesuatu yang lain (something that represent ssomething else). Proses pemaknaan tanda pada Peirce mengikuti hubungan antara tiga titik yaitu representamen (R) – Object (O) – Interpretant (I). R adalah bagian tanda yang dapat dipersepsi secara fisik atau mental, yang merujuk pada sesuatu yang diwakili olehnya (O). Kemudian I adalah bagian dari proses yang menafsirkan hubungan antara R dan O. Oleh karena itu bagi Pierce, tanda tidak hanya representatif, tetapi juga interpretattif. Teori Peirce tentang tanda memperlihatkan pemaknaan tanda sebagai suatu proses kognitif dan bukan sebuah struktur. Peirce membedakan tanda menjadi tiga yaitu indeks, ikon dan simbol. Model Peirce tentang unsur makna tersebut dapat digambarkan sebagai berikut :


Gambar diagram Proses Semiosis dari Peirce

(Hoed 2011:199 dalam Suratmonto 2012 : 166)

Bagaimanakah hubungan ikon, indeks dan simbol? Seperti yang dicontohkan Hoed (2002:25), apabila dalam perjalanan pulang dari luar kota seseorang melihat asap mengepul di kejauhan, maka ia melihat R. Apa yang dilihatnya itu membuatnya merujuk pada sumber asap itu yaitu cerobong pabrik (O). Setelah itu ia menafsirkan bahwa ia sudah mendekati sebuah pabrik ban mobil. Tanda seperti itu disebut indeks, yakni hubungan antara R dan O bersifat langsung dan terkadang kausal. Peirce juga mengemukakan bahwa pemaknaan suatu tanda ada tahap kepertamaan (firstness) yakni saat tanda dikenali pada tahap awal secara prinsip saja. Firstness adalah keberadaan seperti apa adanya tanpa menunjuk ke sesuatu yang lain, keberadaan dari kemungkinan yang potensial. Kemudian tahap ‘keduaan’ (secondness) saat tanda dimaknai secara individual, dan kemudian ‘keketigaan’ (thirdness) saat tanda dimaknai secara tetap sebagai kovensi. Konsep tiga tahap ini penting untuk memahami bahwa dalam suatu kebudayaan kadarpemahaman tanda tidak sama pada semua anggota kebudayaan tersebut.

Barthes (1915-1980) mengatakan komponen-komponen tanda penanda-petanda terdapat juga pada tanda-tanda bukan bahasa antara lain terdapat pada bentuk mite yakni keseluruhan sistem citra dan kepercayaan yang dibentuk masyarakat untuk mempertahankan dan menonjolkan identitasnya (de Saussure,1988). Dengan menggunakan teori signifiant signifie yang dikembangkan menjadi teori tentang metabahasa dan konotasi. Istilah signifiant menjadi ekspresi(E) dan signifie menjadi isi (C). Antara E dan C harus ada relasi (R) tertentu, sehingga membentuk tanda (sign). Konsep relasi ini membuat teori tentang tanda lebih mungkin berkembang karena relasi ditetapkan oleh pemakai tanda.Ekspresi dapat berkembang dan membentuk tanda baru, sehingga ada lebih dari satu dengan isi yang sama. Pengembangan ini disebut sebagai gejala metabahasa dan membentuk apa yang disebut kesinoniman (synonymy).Setiap tanda selalu memperoleh pemaknaan awal yang dikenal dengan dengan istilah denotasi atau sistem primer. Kemudian pengembangannya disebut sistem sekunder. Sistem sekunder ke arah ekspresi disebut metabahasa. Sistem sekunder ke arah isi disebut konotasi yaitu pengembangan isi sebuah ekspresi. Konsep konotasi ini tentunya didasari tidak hanya oleh paham kognisi, melainkan juga oleh paham pragmatik yakni pemakai tanda dan situasi pemahamannya. Dalam kaitan dengan pemakai tanda, kita juga dapat memasukkan perasaan sebagai (aspek emotif) sebagai salah satu faktor yang membentuk konotasi.


Asal Usul Orang Sabu

Ada begitu banyak versi dan cerita yang dituturkan oleh para tua-tua adat tentang asal mulanya pulau Sabu dan riwayat awal terbentuknya masyarakat Sabu. Terdapat indikasi kuat bahwa orang Sabu berasal dari rumpun bangsa Melayu yang besar dari Hindia (Asia Selatan) yang beremigrasi sekitar tahun 500 BC[4].Riwu Kaho[5] menulis ada tiga gelombang imigrasi yang datang ke Indonesia. Gelombang pertama berasal dari Asia Selatan, mereka tiba di Indonesia pada tahun 2000 SM dan menyebar sampai ke Sabu. Gelombang kedua dari daerah Yunan dan wilayah Timur Laut Indo Cina tiba di Indonesia pada tahun 500 SM dan menyebar sampai ke Sabu. Gelombang ketiga berasal dari India Selatan dan tiba di Nusantara pada abad ke-2 SM.

Ada dua[6] kisah yang menceritakan tentang asal usul orang Sabu. Adapun asal usul tersebut sebagai berikut: Pertama[7], Dari syair-syair kuno dalam bahasa Sabu dapat diperoleh informasi sejarah mengenai negeri asal dari leluhur Sabu. Syair-syair itu mengungkapkan bahwa negeri asal orang Sabu terletak sangat jauh di seberang laut di sebelah Barat yang bernama Hura. Dalam peta India memang terdapat Kota Surat di Wilayah Gujarat, India Selatan. Kota Surat terletak di sebelah Kota Bombay, teluk Cambay, India Selatan. Daerah Gujarat pada waktu itu sudah di kenal di mana-mana sebagai pusat perdagangan di India Selatan.Para pendatang dari Gujarat ini ketika tiba di pula Raijua dapat hidup bersama dengan para imigran yang berasal dari perpindahan penduduk gelombang kedua, kemudian berasimilasi dengan imigran gelombang pertama, meskipun pengaruh mereka tampak dominan.  Rombongan India Selatan menjadi penghuni pertama pulau Raijua di bawah pimpinan Kika Ga. Setelah kawin-mawin, mereka menyebar di pulau Sabu dan Raijua, yang kemudian menjadi cikal bakal orang Sabu.

Kedua[8], Masyarakat sabu berasal dari leluhur Hawu Ga (KIka Ga) dan menurut hikayatnya orang Sabu berasal dari Surat (orang sabu melafalkannya dengan kata Hura), suatu tempat orang Hindia pada pantai Utara Bombay. Hawu Ga adalah salah satu anggota keluarga Lou yang mengembara dari negerinya (Hina Jawa Kepue) dan tiba di Raijua / Jawa Wawa. Ia mempunyai tiga orang saudara laki-laki dan seorang perempuan masing-masing bernama Lobo Ga, Laga Ga, Jape Ga, dan Mere Ga.Kemudian mereka dari Jawa Wawa meneruskan perjalanan menuju arah Timur, tiba di suatu tempat bernama Sasar yang di sebut Haha (Haha adalah Tanjung Sasar di pulau Sumba) dan mereka bermukim di sana. LaluHawu Ga (Kika Ga) meneruskan perjalannya lagi ke arah Timur, dari Hina Jawa Kepue tiba di Wadu Mea (Liae).Di atas batu karang ini ia mendapati Luji Liruanak dari Liru Ballasedang memancing ikan, karena lapar ia meminta ikan kepada Luji Liru. Luji Liru pun memberinya seekor ikan. Sesudah itu Luji Liru kembali ke langit dan setibanya di langit, ayahnya bertanya: “mana ikan perolehanmu hari ini?” Luji Liru menjawab: “saya telah berikan kepada seseorang yang tiba-tiba saja muncul di tempat saya memancing.” Kemudian ayahnya berkata lagi. “yang minta itu bukan orang lain. Ia adalah saudaramu sendiri. Bila besok kamu pergi memancing lagi, bawalah dia kemari”. Keesokan harinya Luji Liru pergi memancing di tempat itu dan ternyata Hawu Ga (Kika Ga) masih berada disana. Luji Liru pun menyampaikan pesan ayahnya supaya ia harus ikut ke langit. Ia kembali ke dunia dan dibekali dengan janji atau perintah Tuhan yang harus dijalankannya kelak dalam kehidupan manusia.

Setelah Kika Ga turun dari langit di Wadu Meakemudian bermukim di Merab’bu. Melihat Rai Hawu dalam keadaan yang seperti semula, maka dalam sekejap mata Luji Liruberubah bentuk menjadi seekor burung elang. Ia terbang ke Jawa Wawa (Raijua) untuk mencuri tanah dari kolong rumah Mone Weo. Tiba Jawa Wawa, secara diam-diam ia menggali tanah dari bawah kolong rumah Mone Weo dan dibawahnya tanah tersebut, kemudian dihamburkan dan dalam sekejap mata Rai Hawu terbentuk seperti sekarang ini.Kika Ga bersahabat dengan Maja dan Mone Weo dari Jawa Wawa. ‘Dara Rai yang di bawa oleh Kika Ga dijadikan sebagai dasar atau fondasi bagi Rai Hawu dan Jawa Wawa. Berdasarkan ‘Dara Rai itu, maka Rai Hawu dan Jawa wawa disebut Rai Do Dare Do Kewah’hu (tanah yang sudah dijanjikan). ‘Dara rai (janji atau dasar) dijadikan sebagai pedoman upacara adat yang tidak boleh di langgar.

 Sistem Hierarki Orang Sabu

Pemerintahan tradisi Orang Sabu dipegang oleh Mone Ama, Mone Ama tiap-tiap udu berbeda. Tugas dan tanggung jawab Mone Ama[9]: Deo Rai, sebagai pemimpin upacara tertinggi, bertanggung jawab atas penyelenggaran upacara di musim hujan.Pulod’do Wadu, memimpin upacara dimusim kemarau, membuka hallu aijji bersama Deo Rai dan Rue.Doheleo, memantau dan mengawasi hal penegakan adat dan penyelenggaraan upacara agama, mengkaji dan mencermati akan semua gejala alam, peristiwa, wabah penyakit, bencana alam, gagal panen dan lain sebagainya yang mengganggu kesejahteraan hidup masyarakat, kalau-kalau disebabkan karena adanya pelanggaran terhadap syariat agama dan adatistiadat oleh masyarakat. Sekaligus mengadakan upacara doamohon pengampunan pada Deo Ama atau menolak bala dan kekuatan negatif ke laut.Rue, memimpin upacara pentahiran diri dari segala musibah dan aib. Ini dipegang oleh warga kelompok Rue, yaitu Rue Ae dan Rue Iki bertanggung jawab atas upacara bagi bertunasnya mayang lontar. Pulodd’o dahi, bertanggungjawab atas upacara yang berkaitan dengan laut. Pulodd’o muhu, bertanggungjawab atas penelenggaraan upacara berkaitan dengan peperangan yang juga dikaitkan dengan sabung ayam. Melakukan upacara penatta nada ae dan menyembeli hewan babi dan anjing untuk dipersembahkan di suatu tempat bernama Uju, bersama kehune.Raga Dimu, bertugas untuk melakukan upacara ritual menangkal angin timur pada musim kemarau yang ada hubungan dengan masa transisi dari angin barat ke timur dan juga memanggil hujan turun.Dou Ae / Banggu Udu, bertugas untuk memelihara persekutuan di antara warga udu, memelihara kerukunan dan ketertiban hidup, membagi tanah udu kepada warga udu untuk digarap dan mengawasi agar tanah udu tidak sampai jatuh ke tangan udu lain serta menegakkan syariat agama.

Upacara –upacara tradisi

Kalender Adat[10] dan Upacara menurut Siklus Kehidupan Orang Sabu.
Tidak ada satupun aktivitas hidup orang Sabu selama satu tahun kalender yang dapat terpisah dari kehidupan keagamaan. Hal tersebut merupakan syarat agama sekaligus merupakan adat orang Sabu, terutama bagi mereka masih menganut agama asli. Dalam penyelenggaraan pemenuhan 9 amanat ini maka pelaksanaannya tidak telepas kaitannya dengan kalender kegiatan tahunan[11]. Pelaksanaan 9 Amanat Deo:Puru Hogo; diadakan pada bulan Kelila Wadu, saat akan dimulainya kegiatan iris tuak & dan masak gula yang merupakan salah satu bahan makanan pokok orang Sabu.Baga Rae; diadakan pada akhir bulan Baga Rae, dengan tujuan; Sebagai tanda akhir dari kegiatan iris tuak dan masak gula. Menyumbat mulut tanah agar jangan menelan korban. Mengecek tentang curah hujan pada musim penghujan yang akan datang. Memagari daerah agar terhindar dari musuh dan malapetaka. Mempererat tali persaudaraan antara warga Udu dan Kerogo.Jelli Ma; diadakan pada bulan Ko’o Ma sebagai upacara membersihkan kebun.Hanga Dimu; diadakan pada bulan Hanga Dimu, yakni Deo Rai dan Pululodo memulai panen kacang hijau dilanjutkan dengan acara Nga’a Hanga Dimu. Setelah itu baru warga boleh memulai panen kacang hijau.Daba; dalam daur hidup dikenal tahap; metana (lahir), pe wie ngara (pemberian nama), hapo (pengakuan tentang sahnya anak), daba (baptis), leko wue (belajar memakai pakaian), bagga (sunat), Atta Ngutu (potong gigi) dan peloko nga’a (perkawinan) serta made (kematian). Daba merupakan rangkaian acara yang dilaksanakan pada hari ketiga setelah panen sorgum dan pesta pado’a.Daba diadakan pada bulan Daba Akki.Banga Liwu; diadakan pada bulan Banga Liwu (malam ke 9 dari bulan baru). Dalam rangkai upacara tersebut bertujuan untuk: Mendinginkan obyek-obyek seperti kebun kapas, kebun kelapa, pinang dan kandang ternak. Penghormatan terhadap arwah leluhur dengan membawa sirih pinang ke pekuburan leluhur dan malamnya diadakan “Pedo’a bui ihi”.Hole; dilakukan pada hari ke 7 setelah purnama pada bulan Banga Liwu. Salah satu tujuannya adalah melepaskan celaka ke laut serta menutup mulut laut agar hasil yang dari darat jangan terhisap atau tertelan ke dalam laut. Atau dapat dikatakan dengan istilah buang sial.Hapo; merupakan acara pengakuan terhadap anak yang dilahirkan.Made; upacara yang bersangkutan dengan kematian.

Sistem Kepercayaan Agama Suku Sabu

Orang Sabu Pecaya pada satu Zat Ilahi yang disapa dengan:“Deo Ama” (Allah Bapa asal dari segala sesuatu), “Deo Woro Deo Penynyi” (Tuhan pencipta semesta)“Deo Mone Ae” (Tuhan Maha Kuasa/ Maha Agung). “Deo Muri Mara” (Tuhan yang ada pada dirinya sendiri atau ada dengan sendirinya)“Deo Wata I’a” (Tuhan pengasih dan penyayang)“Deo Mone Higa” ( Tuhan yang Maha Kuasa)“Deo do Ketutu Kelodo” (Tuhan yang Kekal)“Deo Mone Wie” (Tuhan sang pemberi dan Pemelihara), Segala ciptaan terdiri dari 2 unsur yang esensial, mengandung daya yang saling bertentangan, bergantungan, dan saling melengkapi. Contohnya laki-laki dan perempuan. Keduanya adalah setara dengan masing-masing fungsi yang saling melengkapi. Sehingga dalam kehidupan orang Sabu, laki-laki dan perempuan selalu dilihat sebagai suatu kesetaraan. Manusia harus selalu menjaga hubungan atau relasi yang baik dengan Tuhan. Jika hubungan itu baik maka disebut dengan “Meringgi” atau dingin yang mendatangkan damai sentosa, mengerru (hijau/kesuburan) dan merede (kelimpahan). Tetapi sebaliknya dan bila terjadi kesalahan atau pelanggaran terhadap aturan atau tatanan yang ada akan mendatangkan hal-hal yang “Pana” (Panas) atau hal-hal yang berupa petaka, bencana. Untuk menjaga Relasi yang harmonis antara Manusia dan Tuhan maka dalam tatanan kehidupan diatur juga tentang ritual-ritual keagaaman, hubungan kekerabatan dan hukum adat.

Nada adalah tempat beribadat bagi penganut agama suku Sabu (Agama Asli). Nada pertama didirikan Kika Ga di Kolo Marabbu (generasi 11, Miha Ngara). Nadaberkembang menjadi dua, yang satu tetap di Merabbu, yang satu di Kolo Teriwu.  Pada masa Wai Waka (generasi 18) diadakan pembagian wilayah dan masing-masing wilayah didirikan Nada.

Angka dalam masyarakat orang Sabu

Orang Sabu mengenal angka dari pembagian wilayah kepada keturunan Wai Waka[12]yakni: Dara Wai, Kole Wai, Laki Wai, Wara Wai, Jaka Wai, dan Waka Wai. Langkah yang ditempuh dalam pembagian wilayah itu didahului dengan upacara doa memohon petunjuk dari Deo Ama (dalam upacara ini WaiWaka[13] menyembeli seekor kerbau dan membaginya dalam enam bagian menurut jumlah anaknya dan meletakkannya di atas dammu kemudian masing-masing mengambil satu bagian). Setelah selesai pembagian wilayah diberikan bobot dalam bentuk angka yang melambangkan talenta masing-masing. Dara Wai mendapat angka 9, Kole Wai mendapat angka 8, Wara Wai mendapat angka 7, Laki Wai mendapat angka 6, Jaka Wai dan Waka Wai mendapat angka 5, sebagai petanda angka yang diperoleh masing-masing anak dapat dilihat pada kacang hijau. Upacara ini diakhiri dengan pesan[14]: (a) Mereka semua harus berpegang teguh pada semangat persaudaraan / kekeluargaan sebab mereka berasal dari satu bapak. (b) Persaudaraan akan terpelihara apabila mereka saling mengasihi satu dengan yang lain, saling menolong dalam suka maupun duka, segala persoalan harus dihadapi bersamadengan jalan musyawarah untuk mufakat bukan dengan perkelahian. (c) Mereka harus tetap setia berbakti kepada Deo Ama, adapun nama Deo Ama tidak dapat diketahui dan disebut oleh siapapun sebab sangat luhur, suci dan keramat.

Angka memiliki peran penting bagi orang Sabu dalam melakukan aktivitas yang berkaitan dengan kehidupan. Karena itu angka (bilangan) selalu tergambar dalam berbagai aktivitas kehidupan masyarakat Sabu baik dalam keseharian maupun dalam ritual dan ritus. Angka (bilangan) tersebut adalah:


Tabel 3

Nama dan jumlah bilangan orang Sabu

Lambang Bahasa Indonesia Bahasa Sabu
1 satu Ahhi / hehi
2 dua Dhu’e
3 tiga Tallu
4 empat Ap’pa
5 lima Lam’mi
6 enam An’na
7 tujuh Pidu
8 delapan Aru
9 sembilan Heo
10 sepuluh Henguru
11 Sebelas Henguru ahhi
12 Dua belas Henguru dhu’e
13 Tiga belas Henguru tallu
14 Empat belas Henguru ap’pa
15 Lima belas Henguru lam’mi
16 Enam belas Henguru an’na
17 Tujuh belas Henguru pidu
18 Delapan belas Henguru aru
19 Sembilan belas Henguru heo
20 Dua puluh Dhu’e nguru


Tabel ini mengiformasikan secara tradisi orang Sabu tidak mempunyai lambang bilangan atau angka, tetapi memiliki jumlah bilangan dengan berbagai sistem pengembangan yang dapat dipelajari. Oleh sebab itu, angka dan nama bilangan bahasa Indonesia dalam tabel ini digunakan hanya sebagai penjelas penamaan terhadap dan jumlah bilangan tradisi yang dimiliki oleh orang Sabu. Bilangan ahhi / hehi (satu) sampai dengan bilangan heo (sembilan) adalah bilangan tradisi. Bilangan ini menjadi dasar bagi masyarakat Sabu untuk mengembangkan bilangan secara kuantitatif maupun kualitatif dalam kehidupan mereka.Pada tabel terlihat bilangan henguru sampai dengan dhu’e nguru merupakan pengembangan dari bilangan tradisi secara kuantitatif. Perlu diketahui kapan terjadi pengembangan ini kapan dan oleh siapa tidak diketahui. Bilangan henguru berasal kata he[hi] yang berarti satu dan nguru yang berarti gugus untuk menyatakan puluh.

Pemakaian Bilangan dalam Masyarakat Sabu

Seperti telah dikemukakan di depan bahwa masyarakat Sabu tidak memiliki lambang bilangan tetapi dalam kehidupan dan komunikasi bilangan banyak di temui. Berdasarkan jumlah bilangan tradisi yang dimiliki, masyarakat Sabu mengembangkannya dalam praktek pemakaian menjadi bilangan satuan dan himpunan.

Himpunan yang Menyatakan Potong

Satuan potong yang dijadikan sebagai patokan ukuran yang dianggap sebagai himpunan dapat dibedakan atas:Atta: adalah potongan dari sebuah benda khususnya untuk daging; misalnya untuk satu potong disebut heatta, Bella : adalah potongan dari sebuah benda khusunya kain tenunan; misalnya untuk satu potong disebut hebella, Lai    : adalah potongan dari sebuah benda khususnya lembaran daun lontar; misalnya untuk satu potong disebut helai. Lada      : adalah potongan dari sebuah benda khususnya lidi daun lontar dan kelapa; misalnya untuk satu potong disebut helada

 Himpunan yang Menyatakan Buah

Kumpulan buahpun dijadikan oleh masyarakat Sabu sebagai lambang bilangan dalam sistem komuniasi mereka. Ekki     : satuan ini digunakan untuk kelapa, lima buah kelapa akan disebut heekki. Ujju : satuan ini digunakan untuk kumpulan yang berjumlah 16 ikat

Himpunan yang Menyatakan Ikat

Ujju: satuan ikatan yang menyatakan satu kumpulan yang terdiri dari 16 ikat. Rao: tanda yang digunakan untuk satuan menyatakan ( 3) ujju. Ku’u manu       : tanda yang digunakan untuk menyatakan ( 9 x 3) rao . Wawi kelila: tanda yang digunakan untuk menyatakan (27 x 7) rao

Himpunan yang Menyatakan Benda Padat

Kabba: ukuran terkecil yang dipakai dalam menakar. Ukuran ini terbuat dari tempurung buah kelapa yang telah dibersihkan daging kelapanya.Tobbo :ukuran ini terbuat dari ayaman daun lontar yang dibuat dengan ukuran lebih besar sedikt dari kabba. Ukuran ini dapat memuat 3 kabba. Kerigi        : ukuran ini terbuat dari ayaman daun lontar yang dibuat denngan ukuran lebih besar dari tobbo. Ketobbu :ukuran ini terbuat dari ayaman daun lontar yang dibuat denngan ukuran lebih besar dari kerigi, Ketanga orru        : ukuran ini terbuat dari ayaman daun lontar yang dibuat denngan ukuran lebih besar dari ketobbu. Hope jamma:ukuran ini terbuat dari ayaman daun lontar yang dibuat denngan ukuran lebih besar dari tobbo. Hope :ukuran ini terbuat dari ayaman daun lontar yang dibuat denngan ukuran lebih besar dari hope jamma.Kedejja:ukuran ini terbuat dari ayaman daun lontar yang dibuat dengan ukuran lebih besar dari hope. Hoka:ukuran ini terbuat dari ayaman daun lontar yang dibuat dengan ukuran lebih besar dari kedejja

Keruku:ukuran ini terbuat dari ayaman daun lontar yang dibuat dengan ukuran lebih besar dari hoka

Himpunan yang Menyatakan Benda Cair

Untuk ukuran tuak:

Haba tenae: ukuran terkecil dari habba yang dipakai untuk menyuguhkan minuman, ukuran ini terbuat dari daun lontar dengan ukuran tiga lidi lembar aun lontar.

Haba lima: ukuran ini dipakai untuk menyadap tuak, ukuran ini terbuat dari daun lontar dengan ukuran lima lidi lembar daun lontar.

Haba dau: ukuran ini dipakai untuk mengumpulkan tuak dari pohon tuak, ukuran ini terbuat dari daun lontar dengan ukuran tujuh lidi lembar daun lontar.

Haba worena: ukuran ini dipakai untuk mengumpulkan tuak yang telah disadap untuk dibawah pulang kerumah. ukuran ini terbuat dari daun lontar dengan ukuran sembilan lidi lembar daun lontar.

Loli: ukuran ini dipakai untuk pikulan tuak yang terdiri dari dua buah haba worena penuh yang dibawah pulang ke rumah

Orru: ukuran ini dipakai untuk tuak yang telah disiap dimasak. Ukuran ini terbuat dari tiga buah peruik, dan apabila akanimasak maka akan disebut herao.

Untuk ukuran gula:

Ketilu : ukuran ini dipakai untuk gula yang akan dipergunakan sehari-sehari, terbuat dari periuk kecil.

Oruboga: ukuran ini dipakai untuk menggumpulkan gula yang telah dimasak, lebih besar sedikit dari ketilu, 3 ketilu satu orruboga.

Orrupelako: ukuran ini dipakai untuk mengumpulkan gula, 3 orruboga satu orupelako.

Orru: ukuran ini dipakai untuk mengumpulkan gula, 3 orrupelako satu orru.

Rubi: ukuran ini dipakai untuk gula yang terdiri dari beberapa orruboga, ukuran inilah yang dipakai untuk penyimpanan persediaan makanan dan juga untuk dijual atau dibarter, 3 orru satu rubi.

Untuk pikulan :

Haba : ukuran pikulan untuk sebuah haba.

loli : ukuran pikulan dengan menggunakan dua buah haba penuh.

Orru: ukuran pikulan untuk tiga loli

Himpunan yang Menyatakan Ukuran Panjang

Egga : ukuran yang menyatakan jengkal, yakni antara ujung ibu jari dan ujung jari tengah.

Emmi : ukuran yang menyatakan satu telapak tangan, yakni antara ujung jari tengah sampai ke pangkal telapak tangan, ukuran ini juga dipakai untuk bentuk genggaman tangan kanan atau kiri, sedangkan untuk dua genggaman tangan disebut ebba.

Kewahhu: ukuran yang menyatakan dari ujung jari tengah sampai ke siku. Hebekka: ukuran yang menyatakan dari ujung jari tengah sampai ke dada. Reppa: ukuran yang menyatakan dari ujung jari tengah kanan sampai ke ujung jari tengah lengan kiri.

Reppa Hekoa : ukuran yang menyatakan hereppa ditambah dari ujung jari tengah kanan sampai ke siku lengan kiri.

Reppa Hetenga : ukuran yang menyatakan hereppa ditambah ujung jari tengah kanan sampai ke pertengahan dada.

Himpunan yang Menyatakan Ukuran Luas.

Lada : ukuran luas sebuah ladang .

Lobo : ukuran luas sebuah ladang di atas ladang.

Himpunan yang Menyatakan Waktu .

Untuk siang hari :Hou loddo, Rede loddo, Hae loddo, Dida loddo, Kewore loddo, jelli mawo,Wawa loddo, Mako loddo, Horo loddo, Jenna loddo.

Pada malam hari dengan berpatokan pada bintang (moto) disebut : Jennaloddo, Hennurai, Merangorai, Medda, Telora medda, Perommoliru, Mealiru, Kejukka manu hika, Mourai.

Bilangan yang Menyatakan Tingkat :

A’a: untuk mengatakan kedudukan anak laki-laki / perempuan yang pertama, Telora: untuk mengatakan kedudukan anak laki-laki / perempuan yang kedua, ketiga, dst…Ari: untuk mengatakan kedudukan anak laki-laki / perempuan yang terakhir

Sistem Pengembangan Bilangan Tradisi

Jumlah bilangan tradisi yang terbatas tidak dapat menjawab kebutuhan masyarakat dalam berbagai kebutuhan komunikasi tentang fakta dan fenomena lingkungan alam terhadap sesama dan generasi sesudahnya. Karena itu terjadi pengembangan bilangan tradisi secara kuatitatif dan kualitatif.

  1. Secara kuantitatifdimaksudkan untuk dapat diukur, dihitung, atau ditentukan kurang atau lebih. Secara tradisi orang Sabu mengenal bilangan satu sampai sembilan, sedangkan batas hitung sampai tabba (ribu). Untuk juta (hejuta) dan miliar (melio) mendapat pengaruh dari luar. Berikut tabel bilangan hasil sistem pengembangan.

Tabel 4

Bilangan Hasil Sistem Pengembangan

10 Henguru
11 Henguru ahhi
20 Dhuenguru
21 Dhuenguru ahhi
100 Hengahu
101 Hengahu ahhi
1000 Hetabba
1001 Hetabba ahhi
1100 Hetabba hengahu
1500 Hetebba lammingahu
2000 Dhuetabba
10000 Hengurutabba
20000 Dhuengurutabba
100000 Hengahutabba
1000000 Hejuta
100000000 Melio


Dari tabel diatas terlihat jelas bahwa dalam pengembangan bilangan maka henguru menjadi patokan untuk bentuk bilangan kelipatannya, yakni hengahu, hetabba, hejuta bahkan hemilio.

  1. Secara kualitatif

Penunjuk waktu: Hari: satu hari dinyatakan dalam 18 pembagian waktu (9 waktu siang dan 9 waktu malam) Minggu: orang Sabu membagi minggu dalam 7 hari, Bulan: orang Sabu menggunakan perhitungan bulan atas 30 hari, 15 hari warruluha dan 15 hari warru hape. Tahun: orang Sabu menggunakan perhitungan tahun atas 12 bulan. (kalender terlampir)Musim:orang Sabu membagi musim atas dua musim yang disebut warru wadu dan warru ejjilai.Warru wadu terbagi atas enam bulan dan juga sebaliknya.

Makna bilangan dalam pandangan hidup masyarakat Sabu

Bilangan Satu

Bilangan satu: diyakini sebagai permulaan dari segala sesuatu. Dalam ritual Puru Hogo, Baga Rae dan Kuja Ma bilangan satu sebagai pertanda hari pertama memulai semua kegiatan. Dalam ritus Hapo Ana bilangan ini sebagai petanda awal kehidupan baru, dan dalam ritus Made sebagai persiapan untuk sebuah perjalan panjang dalam dunia gaib. Mereka juga mengakui bahwa alam semesta ini diciptakan oleh AhhiDo Muo Do Megala (satu Zat Ilahi) yang mereka kenal dengan Deo Ama. Untuk sebutan bagi Deo Ama orang Sabu juga menyebutnya Deo woro, deo penynyi, Deo Toda Pelaku, Deo Jawi. Terhadap alam semesta ini Deo Ama menetapkan hukum harmoni agar semua berfungsi dengan seimbang, selaras dan serasi sebagai satu kesatuan yang utuh, bilangan ini juga merupakan bilangan mutlak ada.

Bilangan Dua

Bilangan dua: diyakini bahwa Deo Ama menjadikan segala sesuatu itu berpasang-pasangan[15], ada 2 unsur yang esensial, mengandung daya yang saling bertentangan, bergantungan, dan saling melengkapi. Deo Ama menjadikan daratan sebagai laki-laki dan lautan sebagai Perempuan, Matahari dan bulan, siang dan malam; Dalam bentuk bangunan rumah adat bilangan ini merupakan bilangan pasangan tiang Duru dan Wui, pintu bagi laki-laki dan perempuan yang menandakan adanya peran dan fungsi yang ditegakkan. Dalam ritus Puru Hogo bilangan ini sebagai petanda kesiapan menyambut dan mengelola berkat yang akan datang dengan membuat Kepue Rao. Dalam ritus Baga Rae sebagai petanda adanya relasi yang harmonis dengan alam sekitar dan memohon perlindungan yang disebut Lau Rai. Dalam ritus Kuja Ma disebut nga’a pehiu Wini dengan maksud agar tanaman yang ditanam tidak tumbuh lebih subur satu dari yang lain. Dalam ritus Hapo Ana disebut Pehae lii Tao.


Bilangan Tiga

Bilangan tiga: diyakini bahwa dalam membangun sesuatu tidak dapat berjalan dengan baik tanpa ada kerja sama. Bilangan tiga digambarkan sebagai tiga batu tungku (‘duru rao). Apapun yang dikerjakan diatas ‘duru rao pasti akan berhasil. Bilangan ini juga muncul dalam pelaksanaan upacara Dab’ba dengan tiga simbol tanda abu ada dahi dan pipi kiri, kanan, tiga buah sirih dan pinang[16] yang dijadikan makhota dan tiga kali anak diayunkan (pewa’e). Juga dalam membangun rumah terdapat tiga susun (bagian) yang disebut: Kelaga Rai, Kelaga Darra dan Dammu. Fungsi Kelaga Rai untuk menerima tamu, Kelaga Darra dibagi menjadi Kelaga dduru tempat bagi kaum laki-laki melakukan aktivitas dalam rumah, Kelaga kopo tempat untuk kaum perempuan melakukan aktivitas dan menyimpan perbagai perbakalan rumah tangga. Dammu untuk menaruh hasil sebagai persembahan kepada Deo Ama. Bilangan ini juga merupakan awal dalam mengerjakan sesuatu. Karena itu dikenal haba tellu, ammu wotellu. Juga di kenal ada tiga makhluk gaib yang mengawasi alam semesta ini yakni Rai Bella, Dahi Bella, Liru Bella. Angka tiga dalam ritus perkawinan bermakna manusia terdiri dari pengabungan dari unsur Rai Bella, Dahi Bella, Liru Bella. Dalam ritus puru hogo sebagai tanda ucapan syukur dengan acara Nga’a Kewahu, dalam Jelli Ma, sebagai petanda perlidungan terhadap serangan hama yang ditandai dengan Nga’a Jelli Ma.

Bilangan empat

Bilangan empat: diyakini sebagai kesatuan kumpulan. Bilangan ini dikenal dalam arah mata angin, Utara (bo’dae) dan Selatan (bolow), Timur (Dimu) dan Barat (Wa), ada empat sudut rumah (dalam kelaga). Bilangan ini juga tergambar dalam upacara kuj’ja ma ada empat ikat ketupat yang bermakna melindungi tanaman dari kerusakan akibat angin dari keempat penjuru. Empat lubang disudut ladang melambangkan Ma Rai Ae, Na Rai Ae, Ma Rai Bella, Na Rai Bella, sebagai penghormatan kepada keempat tokoh diatas. Juga bermakna perlindungan alam atas segala hasil usaha manusia. Dalam ritus Baga Rae bermakna sikap mawas diri dan mau menerima sema peristiwa yang dialami dalam semangat persaudaraan dan kekeluargaan yang ditandai dengan acara pepehi antar warga. Dalam ritus da’ba angka ini bermakna diterimanya seorang anak sebagai bagian dari anggota keluarga. Dalam ritus Hapo bilangan ini bermakna pembersihan diri seorang ibu sehabis melahirkan.

Bilangan lima

Bilangan lima: diyakini sebagai Jabatan utama yang diembankan oleh Deo Ama kepada Kika Ga (Kika Liru) ketika kembali bumi.Jabatan ini oleh narasumber[17] sendiri sudah tidak dapat menyebutkannya lagi satu persatu. Bilangan ini juga dipakai untuk menyatakan suatu kumpulan dalam bentuk ikatan[18]. Juga merupakan bilangan yang tergambar dalam bangunan rumah orang Sabu di sebut ammuwolemmi. Dalam ritus hapo bilangan ini bermakna persekutuan yang erat dalam keluarga.

Bilangan enam

Bilangan enam: diyakini ada enam langkah penciptaan oleh Deo Ama. Dalam ritus Hole bilangan ini bermakna persekutuan kekeluargaan dan persaudaraan yang rukun. Dalam ritus Kuja Ma bilangan ini bermakna berakhirnya semua kegiatan dan pembersihan diri yang ditandai dengan acara Nga’a Kama Rai. Bilangan ini juga merupakan pembagian wilayah kekuasaan secara adil yang dilakukan oleh Wai Waka kepada anak-anaknya. Bagi orang Mesara[19] tanda yang dilihat pada kacang hijau, ketika tangkai daun sudah berjumlah enam tangkai maka ia di sebut penajakolo yaitu kacang siap berbunga dan menghasilkan buah.

Bilangan Tujuh

Bilangan tujuh : ditemukan pada pembagian wilayah yang dilakukan oleh Wai Waka juga pada bentuk (ukuran) bangunan rumah orang Sabu. Bilangan ini juga dikenal dengan sebutan, ratu mone pidu, pidu ddara pidu kewahhu pidu dduru artinya tanah tujuh taji, tujuh ikatan, tujuh keratan dalam ritus Kuja Ma. Orang Sabu mengenal ada tujuh setan (wango)[20] yang bermukin dalam laut (‘dara dahi) yakni Jawi Rai, Wango Rai, Podo Rai, Hagu Rai, Piga Rai, Raga Rai dan Ngallu Apa ( Dae lole dan Gara Rai). Liae juga mendapat julukan Rae Titu Ratu Mone Pidu yang artinya negeri yang diperintah oleh tujuh imam. Juga menunjukkan 7 jenis tanaman[21] yang dianggap menjadi kebutuhan pokok orang Sabu yakni; Kelapa, Pinang, Siri, Lontar, Kacang, nila, dan mengkudu.

Bilangan Delapan

Bilangan Delapan dalam bentuk bangunan rumah adat orang Sabu merupakan pengembangan dari bilangan berpasangan yaitu adanya empat gerri tebekka dan empat gerri ae. Bilanganini dalam ritus Akki Penabbu[22] dilakukan 8 tahun sekali dengan membawah 8 jenis binatang untuk dipersembahkan kepada Deo Ama atas tanaman lontar[23] yang telah tumbuh.

Bilangan Sembilan

Bilangan Sembilan diyakini sebagai Sembilan amanat Deo Ama, yang mengatur kehidupan manusia untuk menuju kesempurnaan. Kelalaian dalam melakukan kesembilan amanat ini akan mendatangkan bencana bagi orang Sabu. Angka tertinggi sebagai yang sulung diantara saudara-saudara. Dalam ritus Banga Liwu angka sembilan pada bunyi tambur bermakna selesainya semua rangkaian kegiatan sebagai tanda syukur dan hormat atas sema berkat yang diterima. Dalam ritus Baga Rae sebagai pengembangan dari jumlah tahun upacara.

Berdasarkan uraian di atas dan jumlah jenis persembahan yang disajikan kepada Deo Ama bilangan yang dipakai sebagai bilangan magis adalah bilangan tiga (3). Bilangan ini merupakan gambaran dari kehidupan manusia yang terdiri atas tubuh, jiwa dan roh yang diyakini pula merupakan gabungan dari Deo Liru Bella, Deo Dahi Bela dan Deo Rai Bella. Orang Sabu juga meyakini alam ini terbagi atas tiga bagian yakni rai liru, rai wawa dan rai menata, dan sebagai tanda perjanjian pada hari dabba. Menyatakann hubunganmanusia dengan Deo Ama, sesama dan alam gaib (deo ama oppu).

Berdasarkan data di atas maka makna angka / bilangan tradisi dapat dideskripsikan adalah:

  1. Bilangan 1 bermakna adanya satu kesatuan kekuatan ilahi yang mengatur jagat raya ini, Kesepakatan, awal mula segala sesuatu.
  2. Bilangan 2 bermakna persatuan fungsi dan peran Pasangan,
  3. Bilangan 3 bermakna kebersamaan dalam menanggung beban atau tanggungjawab, pemurnian dan perjanjian
  4. Bilangan 4 bermakna kesemestaan alam ini, relasi dengan alam semesta, pemulihan kekuatan dan pembersihan diri, sikap mawas diri dan mau menerima setiap peristiwa yang terjadi dalam semangat persaudaraan dan kekeluargaan. perlindungan alam
  5. Bilangan 5 bermakna tanggung jawab dan persekutuan yang erat diantara sesama anggota keluarga.
  6. Bilangan 6 bermakna kekuasaan, persekutuan dan pemurnian diri, penonjolan diri, hawa nafsu dan egois, pencarian jati diri
  7. Bilangan 7 bermakna kematangan, kesempurnaan
  8. Bilangan 8 bermakna kejayaan, kemenangan, kedamaian
  9. Bilangan 9 bermakna kehormatan, kemuliaan, keagungan


Perspektif Orang Sabu Terhadap Bilangan 6

Tabel 5 Proses semiosis Barthez

Denotasi Konotasi Mitos
Angka yang dipakai oleh Wai waka untuk membagi wilayah kepada anak-anaknya Penciptaan Kekuasaan dan keadilan


Makna denotasi bilangan 6 dalam perspektif orang Sabu sebagai pembagian kekuasaan dan talenta secara adil oleh leluhur mereka (Wai Waka kepada anak-anaknya). Pembagian ini dilakukan oleh Wai Waka diawali dengan doa dan pesan[24] kepada anak-anaknya untuk hidup rukun satu sama yang lain. Makna konotasi bilangan 6 dalam tradisi orang Sabu merupakan bilangan 6 langkah penciptaan oleh Deo Ama dan pada penciptaan keenam manusialah yang diciptakan terakhir dari Ai Woro.Bilangan ini memaknai persekutuan seluruh warga dan selesainya semua pekerjaan serta pembersihan diri. Mitosnya adalah manusia diberi kekuasaan untuk mengelolah hasil alam ini sebaik mungkin, dengan usaha sendiri maka tidak akan mencapai kesempurnaan, karena itu Deo Ama harus hadir sebagai pokok kesempurnaan. Jika bilangan 6 bermakna kekuasaan secara adil untuk memelihara persekutuan kekeluargaan dan pesaudaraan yang rukun dalam jiwa yang murni, maka bilangan 6 diulangi dua kali menegaskan adanya egoisme terhadap penggunaan kekuasaan. Bilangan 6 diulangi tiga kali menunjukkan hancurnya semangat persekutuan kekeluargaan daan persaudaraan yang adil dalam jiwa yang murni. Jadi angka 666 dalam tradisi bermakna manusia egois yang menggunakan kekuasaan untuk kepentingan diri.


Makna bilangan 6 dalam tradisi orang Sabu dipahami sebagai Pembagian kekuasaan secara adil dijalankan dalam semangat persaudaraan dan kekeluargaan yang rukun dengan jiwa yang murni. Bilangan 6 merupakan bilangan antara 3 dan sembilan yang menandakan manusia sebagai ciptaan Deo Ama dalam relasinya harus dapat bekerja samauntuk mencapai kesempurnaan.

Dalam masyarakat bilangan ini diulang tiga kali menunjukkan manusia berusaha menguasi alam dan sesama secara kejam untuk mencari hormat dan kemuliaan dirinya, sehingga semangat persekutuan kekeluargaan dan persaudaraan yang rukun dalam jiwa yang murni, menjadi rusak. Juga merupakan penegasan bahwa kekuasaan manusia ada batasnya.


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[1] Mahasiswa program Studi Linguistik PPs Undana angkatan 2012

[2] F. Sanga Sistem Bilangan Pokok Tradisional dalam masyarakat Nusa Tenggara Timur sebuah kajian etnografis, Jurnal Guru Bahasa 1996

[3] Jingitiu adalah kepercayaan tradisional yang dianut oleh masyarakat Sabu, Kepercayaan Jingitiu ini sebenarnya hanyalah sebutan dari para penginjil Kristen Portugis saja, karena kepercayaan asli orang Sabu tidak diketahui secara pasti namanya. Hal ini didasarkan pada arti Jingitiu dalam bahasa lokal, yakni menolak (jingi) dari (ti) Tuhan (au). Padahal orang Sabu sangat meyakini adanya Tuhan yang mereka sebut dengan Deo Ama (Allah Bapa, asal dari segala sesuatu) atau Deo Woro Deo Pennji (Tuhan pencipta semesta) atau Deo Mone Ae (Tuhan Maha Kuasa / Maha Agung).


[5] Robert Riwu Kaho “Orang Sabu dan budayanya” 2005

[6] Pantekosarlin Y Bunga Tedju “Ritus Hapo Ana” 2008 : 12

[7]Ama Terru Ludji: “Agama suku Sabu”

[8] Juda D. Hawu Haba “Gospel and Jingitiu” 2006 : 45-47

Baca Robert R. Kaho “Orang Sabu dan Budayanya” 2005

[9] Wilayah adat Mesara.

[10]Baca: Juda D. Hawu Haba “Injil dan Jingitiu” 2006

[11] Kalender adat terlampir

[12]Leluhur Orang Sabu dalam generasi ke-6

[13]Baca :Pantekosarlin Y Bunga Tedju” 2008

[14]Baca : Robert Riwu Kaho“Orang Sabu dan Budayanya” 2005

[15] Wawancara dengan pdt Emr. Nguru Wadu, Herman Dida,Leofilus Kale, Lambertus Huru

[16]Baca : Pantekosarlin Y. Bunga Tedju “Ritus Hapo Ana” 2008

[17] Petrus Baki, wawancara tanggal 2 Desember 2013

[18] Heekki terdiri dari lima buah (contoh pada kelapa)

[19] Baca : Yuda Deferset Hawu Haba “Injil dan Jingitiu” 2006

[20]Baca : John Ly Dali “Hole” 2008

[21] Diyakini berasal dari bagian tubuh Rai Ae: Kelapa = tempurung kepala, Pinang = biji mata, Siri = jari, Pohon Lontar = kemaluan, Kacang = ginjal, Mengkudu = ludah merah

[22] Yat padjie

[23] Tanaman lontar ini ditanam dalam satu kebun, setiap jumlah ke sepuluh sebagai tanaman persembahan.

[24] Lihat topik bilangan tradisi orang Sabu



Penerjemahan dan Dunia Global: Pengalaman Australia dalam Penjurubahasaan

by Rochayah Machali- UNSW, Australia

(Versi awal tulisan ini pernah disajikan di Seminar Nasional Penerjemahan di Politeknik Negeri Malang, tahun 2007)


Globalisasi telah menjadi istilah yang sangat umum kita dengar, yang prosesnya sangat terkait secara langsung dengan bidang ekonomi dan pemasaran. Namun demikian, efek globalisasi itu sendiri juga merasuk ke dalam berbagai aspek kehidupan, sistem sosial dan politik, lembaga dan nilai serta ke dalam kegiatan keseharian kita. Banyak perusahaan menjual produknya ke seluruh dunia dan menjadi perusahaan supranasional, sehingga identifikasi kenegaraan tak lagi terlalu penting. Banyak perubahan yang terjadi terhadap bentuk-bentuk bisnis, perdagangan, dan pendidikan, misalnya banyak perusahaan melakukan jual-beli produk melalui Internet.
Kehidupan keseharian kita pun terpengaruhi oleh perkembangan dan perubahan ini. Berbagai hal sudah bisa dilakukan dengan sangat lebih cepat dibandingkan dengan beberapa tahun yang lalu. Perbelanjaan dan perbankan sekarang bisa dilakukan dengan mudah melalui Internet. Semakin banyak iklan yang mengajak kita untuk bekerja dari rumah dengan memanfaatkan teknologi, misalnya banyak penerjemah lepas yang bekerja dari rumah dengan memanfaatkan ratron dan komputer. Maka, sudah semakin banyak orang menjadi bagian dari benua ke tujuh yang bersifat maya ini, ‘virtual seventh continent’.

Semua perubahan ini telah mempengaruhi cara kita belajar, mencari informasi, dan cara kita berkomunikasi. Pencarian informasi, misalnya, sudah jauh lebih mudah karena kita tinggal menekan tombol di komputer dan memasuki ‘benua ke tujuh’ tersebut di atas. Misalnya, melalui search engines kita bisa mencari makna suatu kata dengan mudah. Selain itu, kegiatan penjurubahasaan juga telah mengalami perubahan penting, misalnya melalui tele-conference pada tataran global, yang tidak memerlukan kehadiran fisik bagi para peserta.
Selain itu, bagi kita yang bekerja di bidang yang terkait bahasa, perubahan yang paling penting adalah yang menyangkut bahasa dan penggunaan bahasa itu sendiri. Misalnya, kita dihadapkan pada pertanyaan-pertanyaan seperti ‘bahasa atau bahasa-bahasa apa yang digunakan di Internet?’, ‘bahasa apa yang digunakan pada tingkat global?’, ‘apakah salah satu dari bahasa-bahasa ini menjadi bahasa global?, apa pengaruh ‘bahasa global’ ini terhadap kegiatan penerjemahan dan penjurubahasaan?.

Menurut Snell-Hornby (1999), bahasa Inggris-lah yang menjadi bahasa yang dominan dan menjadi lingua franca internasional. Namun, menurutnya bahasa tersebut tidak lagi membawa identitas ragam nasional tertentu. Dengan kata lain, bahasa tersebut menjadi‘globish’ atau menjadi ‘McLanguage’ yang sifatnya lebih sederhana dibandingkan dengan ‘bahasa Inggris’. Di Australia, misalnya, akhir-akhir ini juga ada keprihatinan bahwa bahasa Inggris sudah tidak ada lagi; yang muncul adalah varian-varian seperti ‘Spanglish’, ‘Chinglish’, dll (yang secara akademis sering dirujuk sebagai ‘hibrida’, yang akan dibahas lagi nanti).
Memang, menurut statistik hasil kajian the Economist (15 Mei 1999) dan Der Spiegel (4 Oktober 1999), jumlah situs web yang menggunakan bahasa Inggris sudah menurun menjadi 57.4% (dari 75%), namun bahasa Inggris masih menjadi bahasa yang banyak digunakan karena melalui bahasa inilah pasar global bisa diraih.

Seperti dikatakan di atas, ‘bahasa global’ tersebut mempunyai ciri baru, baik dari segi bentuk maupun ‘aturan’ penggunaannya. Bahasa tersebut menjadi lebih sederhana, meskipun ini tidak berarti terjadi pemiskinan komunikasi. Banyak kajian yang menunjukkan bahwa beberapa aspek kebahasaan dari ‘New English’ ini sudah mengalami perubahan.Misalnya, aspek kala yang digunakan dalam ‘New English’ tidak secanggih bahasa Inggris, khususnya kala ‘progresif’ (Collins, 2007). Selain itu, dalam kajian lain, dikenali adanya kecenderungan ‘hybrid texts’. Adejunmobi (dalam Schäffner, 1999) menyebut teks jenis ini ‘compositional translations’, yakni teks yang dihasilkan oleh penulis pasca-kolonial Afrika yang ditulis dalam bahasa Eropa namun dengan menggunakan pola pikir Afrika. Dengan kata lain, teks dalam bahasa Eropa tersebut ‘berbau’ Afrika.

Dalam kegiatan penjurubahasaan, teks jenis ini paling banyak dijumpai, yang tidak selalu dikarenakan oleh pengaruh globalisasi. Hibriditas teks dalam kegiatan ini lebih dikarenakan oleh sifat kegiatan tersebut, yang menuntut seorang jurubahasa beralih dari satu bahasa ke bahasa lain dalam waktu yang relatif cepat. Seringkali, dalam prosesnya terjadi ‘interlingual transfer’ yang tak terhindarkan. Pembicaraan mengenai teks hibrida itu sendiri dapat dilihat dari berbagai kerangka teori, misalnya melalui kerangka post colonial study, intertextuality, cultural studies, text identity, dsb.

Pembahasan mengenai peran juru bahasa di Australia tidak terlepas dari kebijakan negara itu untuk menerapkan multikulturalisme. Penetapan juru bahasa dan penerjemah sebagai profesi yang diakui di Australia telah melewati sejarah yang panjang, serta melewati beberapa tahap. Oleh karena itu, makalah ini disajikan dalam tiga bagian:
(1) Latar belakang profesi penerjemah dan juru bahasa di Australia, yang mencakup (a) akreditasi bagi penerjemah dan juru bahasa; (b) Organisasi profesi dan kode etik;
(2) Juru bahasa & penjurubahasaan, yang mencakup (a) ‘jenis’, (b) ‘cara penjurubahasaan’, (c) contoh kasus;
(3) Pelatihan dan pendidikan juru bahasa dan penerjemah di Australia (gambaran selayang pandang).

Meskipun secara geografis Australia terletak di kawasan Asia, adat istiadat, agama, struktur sosial dan struktur pemerintahannya lebih dekat ke negara Inggris yang menjajahnya pada tahun 1788 dan mengesahkan Konstitusi Federalnya di tahun 1901.

Dengan demikian, bahasa utamanya tentu saja bahasa Inggris. Namun, berkaitan dengan meningkatnya jumlah imigran, populasi yang non-Inggris meningkat, sehingga jumlah penggunaan bahasa non-Inggris pun meningkat pula. Pada tahun 1945, dengan jumlah keseluruhan populasi yang hanya mencapai tujuh setengah juta, jumlah pengguna bahasa non-Inggris hanya kecil saja. Namun, sekarang terdapat kira-kira 90 bahasa non-Inggris yang digunakan di Australia, dan yang terbanyak jumlahnya adalah bahasa Italia dan Yunani. Akhir-akhir ini pengguna bahasa Indo-Cina juga semakin banyak.

Walaupun jumlah imigrasi menjadi ciri sejarah Australia, kebutuhan akan penerjemahan dan kejurubahasaan baru dirasakan sejak terjadinya imigrasi secara besar-besaran sesudah PDII. Kebijakan waktu itu mengharuskan para migran bisa berbahasa Inggris serta ada keharusan untuk berasimilasi. Kebijakan ini kemudian dianggap tidak manusiawi dan dianggap gagal karena untuk belajar bahasa Inggris diperlukan tenaga, waktu dan biaya yang tidak sedikit. Akibatnya, mereka yang tak mampu berbahasa Inggris mendapat kesulitan memperoleh akses serta berpartisipasi dalam kehidupan sosial dan politik di Australia. Hal ini menjadi dasar mulai dirasakannya perlunya juru bahasa dan penerjemah, yang dimulai dengan usaha sistematis oleh kelompok masyarakat Italia dan Yunani. Jumlah kedua kelompok ini waktu itu sudah semakin banyak.

Pada tahun 1960 Departemen Imigrasi Australia mulai menetapkan Unit Layanan Penerjemahan secara resmi, namun unit tersebut masih hanya dijumpai di Departemen Imigrasi saja. Unit inipun baru ditetapkan 14 tahun sesudah pemerintah Australia mulai menerima imigran secara resmi.
Kemudian, pada tahun 1973 mulailah ada perkembangan yang sangat berarti dalam hal-hal yang berkaitan dengan profesi penerjemahan dan kejurubahasaan. Sejak tahun ini, mulai dirintis berdirinya tiga lembaga dan kebijakan: (1) Committee on Overseas Professional Qualifications (disingkat COPQ). (2) National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (disingkat NAATI). (3) Kebijakan Nasional dalam bidang Bahasa (National Language Policy). Ketiga hal ini bersangkut-paut dengan profesi penerjemah dan jurubahasa, sebagaimana dijelaskan di bawah ini. Namun, hanya COPQ dan NAATI saja yang disinggung.

(a) Lembaga Kualifikasi Profesi (COPQ)
Lembaga ini bertugas melakukan evaluasi serta, bila perlu, memberikan sertifikasi bagi kualifikasi profesional yang diperoleh dari luar Australia. Pada tahun 1974 dibentuk Panitia Kerja yang tugasnya tiga:

1. membentuk Lembaga Nasional untuk mengontrol sertifikasi juru bahasa dan penerjemah, terlibat dalam pengujian dan penciptaan lembaga pelatihan.
2. menetapkan klasifikasi standar bagi juru bahasa dan penerjemah, berdasarkan 5 tingkat struktur berdasarkan ketrampilan dan tugas yang dilakukan.
3. menetapkan struktur gaji bagi juru bahasa dan penerjemah untuk menarik minat kalangan terdidik.

Dalam tahun-tahun ini, ada perubahan moto dan sikap dalam kebijakan pemerintah Australia: dari asimilasi ke integrasi, dan kemudian menjadi kebijakan multikulturalisme sampai sekarang. Dalam konteks kebijakan ini, kegiatan kejurubahasaan dan penerjemahan menjadi profesi yang dilindungi, sebagaimana halnya dengan profesi lain.

(b) Akreditasi bagi Penerjemah dan Juru bahasa
Sejalan dengan hasil kerja Panja COPQ di atas, pada tahun 1977 dibentuklah suatu Badan Otonom oleh Departemen Imigrasi dan Urusan Etnis. Badan Otonom ini menetapkan bahwa: ‘…eventually, in Australia no one will be able to practice as an interpreter or translator who has not NAATI accreditation at the appropriate level” (garis bawah ditambahkan).

Pada tahun 1978, pembedaan tingkat ada lima: tingkat pertama dan kedua adalah tingkatan sub-profesional sedangkan tingkat III s/d V adalah tingkat profesional. Pembedaan antara kedua jenis tingkatan ini didasarkan pada dua hal: tingkat pra-profesional adalah dwibahasawan yang menggunakan kompetensinya untuk membantunya dalam tugas utama di tempat kerjanya. Tingkat profesional adalah mereka yang hidupnya tergantung atas penerjemahan/penjurubahasaan.

Namun, belakangan ini tingkat-tingkat tersebut diubah kategorisasinya menjadi: tingkat paraprofesional (penerjemah dan juru bahasa) dan tingkat profesional (penerjemah dan juru bahasa). Masing-masing tingkat mempunyai makna dan batasan tugas sendiri-sendiri (lihat Sebagai lembaga akrediatasi, NAATI menjadi sangat berkuasa dalam menetapkan terakreditasi-tidaknya seorang penerjemah/juru bahasa. Mungkin perlu digarisbawahi di sini bahwa ‘akreditasi’ terkadang tidak menunjukkan kemampuan sebenarnya dari seorang penerjemah.

(c) Organisasi profesi & Kode Etik
Sejalan dengan semakin dikukuhkannya kedudukan NAATI, lahirlah organisasi profesi bagi penerjemah dan juru bahasa yang disebut AUSIT (Australian Institute for Interpreters and Translators) pada tahun 1987. Dalam jangka waktu kurang-lebih tiga tahun sejak berdirinya, AUSIT telah berhasil meyakinkan organisasi-organisasi serupa lainnya di berbagai negara bagian agar menyatu dalam satu wadah: AUSIT. Pada tahun 1987 itu, ditetapkan dua kategori keanggotaan dalam AUSIT: anggota biasa dan anggota luar biasa. Anggota biasa haruslah mereka yang mempunyai akrediatsi pada tingkat III atau sepadan.
Sebagai organisasi profesi, AUSIT menetapkan “Code of ethics” (lihat Kode etik bagi juru bahasa dan penerjemah tersebut ditetapkan bersama dengan NAATI. Terdapat dua hal utama: (1) general principles yang mencakup delapan kode etik, dan (2) “Code of practice” yang merupakan penjabaran kode etik. Kedelapan prinsip umum tersebut adalah:

1. Professional conduct, yakni bahwa juru bahasa dan penerjemah hendaknya selalu bertindak sesuai dengan standar dan tujuan AUSIT sebagai organisasi profesi bagi penerjemah dan juru bahasa.
2. Confidentiality, yakni juru bahasa hendaknya merahasiakan informasi yang diperoleh dari pekerjeaannya.
3. Competence, yakni bahwa juru bahasa dan penerjemah hendaknya hanya akan mengerjakan tugas yang sesuai dengan ‘akreditasi dari NAATI.
4. Impartiality, yakni bahwa juru bahasa dan penerjemah hendaknya tidak berpihak dalam semua kontrak profesionalnya.
5. Accuracy, yakni bahwa juru bahasa dan penerjemah sejauh mungkin hendaknya berusaha akurat.
6. Employment, yakni bahwa juru bahasa dan penerjemah bertanggung jawab atas kualitas kerjanya, baik sebagai praktisi bebas maupun praktisi yang dipekerjakan oleh perusahaan.
7. Professional development, yakni bahwa juru bahasa dan penerjemah akan terus mengembangkan ketrampilan dan pengetahuan profesionalnya.
8. Professional solidarity, yakni bahwa juru bahasa dan penerjemah hendaknya menghormati dan mendukung rekan sekerja.

Organisasi profesi pada zaman maraknya penggunaan ratron ini sudah masuk ke dunia maya (virtual), karena tersedianya Internet (lihat pembahasan lebih lanjut di bawah, Bagian 4).


(a) Jenis
Pertama-tama sebaiknya dibedakan dulu antara penerjemahan (translating) dan penjurubahasaan (interpreting) secara jelas. Keduanya merupakan ketrampilan yang sangat khusus, dan umumnya dilakukan oleh dwibahasawan yang terlatih.

Penerjemahan berkenaan dengan teks tertulis, mulai dari karya sastra, dokumen hukum, petunjuk praktis, sampai dengan resep masakan. Banyak penerjemah yang menggarap pekerjaannya di rumah dan mengembangkan jaringan kerja dengan klien, ahli, maupun para rekan sekerja melalui komputer pribadinya (di rumah). Keberadaan e-mail, Internet dan mailing lists telah sangat memungkinkan adanya berbagai kemudahan bagi penerjemah.
Ada penerjemah yang dipekerjakan oleh perusahaan, lembaga pemerintah maupun organisasi internasional. Banyak juga penerjemah yang bekerja sebagai anggota tim besar yang menggarap tugas-tugas kebahasaan seperti sulih suara, pemasaran, penyiapan perangkat lunak, dsb.

Sebaliknya, juru bahasa adalah penerjemah lisan yang bekerja ‘on-site’, meskipun dimungkinkan dilakukan melalui telepon (telephone interpreting). Terdapat tiga jenis penjurubahasaan pada umumnya:
(a) kegiatan juru bahasa dalam konperensi (conference interpreting);
(b) juru bahasa untuk kepentingan masyarakat (community interpreting);
(c) juru bahasa untuk urusan bisnis (business interpreting).

Dalam penjurubahasaan jenis (a), biasanya juru bahasa berada dalam ‘booth’ (untuk bahasa tertentu), dan masing-masing ‘booth’ dihubungkan langsung ke ‘floor’ tempat para delegasi berkonperensi dan juga dengan ‘booth’ untuk bahasa lain. Misalnya, dalam KTT Non-Blok 1992, ‘booth’ untuk tim Indonesia dihubungkan dengan ‘floor’ dan dengan tim juru bahasa dari PBB. Masing-masing ‘booth’ biasanya diisi oleh dua juru bahasa atau lebih. Dengan demikian, kalau ada juru bahasa yang tiba-tiba terbatuk-batuk ketika menerjemahkan, maka juru bahasa ke dua akan langsung mengambil-alih.

Kalau seorang juru bahasa bisa mahir dalam dua bahasa asing (yang digunakan dalam suatu konperensi), maka hal itu akan sangat bagus sekali. Dengan demikian, ketika misalnya ia mendengarkan pengguna bahasa Inggris ‘beraksen’ yang sulit dipahaminya, maka ia bisa mengalihkan ‘switchboard’-nya ke ‘booth’ di sebelahnya (misalnya ‘booth’ bahasa Prancis) dan melakukan penerjemahkan secara ‘secondhand’—yakni dari Prancis ke Indonesia, meskipun pidatonya dalam bahasa Inggris (yang ‘beraksen’ tersebut). Cara ini pernah dilakukan dalam KTT Non-Blok di Jakarta yang lalu. Dengan demikian, juru bahasanya tak perlu diganti. [Catatan: untunglah dalam KTT Non-blok itu, Indonesia mempunyai juru bahasa yang mahir dalam 4 bahasa asing (Inggris, Prancis, Spanyol, Portugis—meskipun bahasa Portugis tidak diperlukan waktu itu)]. Dalam ‘conference interpreting’, Mode atau cara penjurubahasaan biasanya dilakukan secara simultan (lihat penjelasan di bawah).

Dalam penjurubahasaan jenis (b), yakni ‘community interpreting’, juru bahasa biasanya berhadapan secara bersegi-tiga dengan klien (bahasa sasaran) dan dengan pembicara.

segitiga jurubahasa
Gambar 1. Pengaturan duduk (seating arrangement)

Sekarang ini, di Australia (maupun di belahan lain dunia ini) telah dimungkinkan juga penjurubahasaan lewat telepon (TIS= Telephone Interpreting Service). Sebagaimana disebutkan sebelumnya, dengan pemanfaatan teknologi (baik dengan telepon bergambar atau tidak), penjurubahasaan seringkali dilaksanakan melalui tele-conference. Dengan demikian, penjurubahasaan dalam tataran global pun bisa dengan mudah dilaksanakan, tak terbatasi oleh kehadiran fisik, oleh karena tatap muka pun bisa terlaksana berkat kemajuan teknologi.

Di Australia sendiri, penjurubahasaan jenis (b), tetaplah yang paling umum dilakukan, yakni yang disebut ‘liaison interpreting’. Pada prinsipnya, seorang juru bahasa harus memahami hal-hal teknis yang penting, misalnya dia seyogyanya terlatih dalam ‘note taking’, mengetahui seating arrangement (gambar di atas), menerjemahkan dengan ber‘aku’ (karena juru bahasa adalah the ‘mouth piece’) dan bukannya dengan ‘s/he said’ (seperti dalam laporan), dll. Selain itu, juru bahasa harus memahami budaya dari bahasa yang diterjemahkannya, memahami peristilahan yang digunakan (misalnya istilah hukum kalau ia sering menjadi juru bahasa di pengadilan atau di ‘immigration tribunals’), terlatih menggunakan ingatan dan konsentrasi, menguasai ungkapan khusus (idiom, termasuk dialek, slang, dsb.). Di Australia, community interpreting dapat dilakukan dengan menggunakan salah satu dari ketiga cara: ‘simultan’, ‘konsekutif’, ‘berbisik’, tergantung kepentingan dan konsensus/konvensi.

Dalam penjurubahasaan jenis (c), suasana umum pada dasarnya tidak terlalu berbeda dengan ‘conference interpreting’, hanya saja biasanya juru bahasa tidak perlu berada dalam ‘booth’ dan suasananya tidak terlalu formal. Biasanya tidak ada pidato resmi, melainkan perundingan yang melibatkan beberapa orang saja. Misalnya, pertemuan yang melakukan evaluasi pegawai hotel dan restoran (2-3 orang), pelatihan agen asuransi yang akan memasuki pasar asing (8-10 orang), dsb.

(b) Cara penjurubahasaan
Pada umumnya terdapat tiga cara penjurubahasaan (modes of interpreting): cara konsekutif (consecutive interpreting), simultan (imultaneous interpreting), dan berbisik (whisper interpreting, juga disebut chuchotage).

Cara konsekutif
Cara ini kebanyakan digunakan dalam pertemuan bisnis, pertemuan biasa, pertemuan kecil yang informal, pengaduan hukum, pemeriksaan kesehatan, dsb. Pada dasarnya:
• juru bahasa mendengarkan pembicara sambil mencatat;
• pembicara berhenti pada interval tertentu (sesudah beberapa kalimat)agar juru bahasa dapat menerjemahkannya ke dalam bahasa sasaran;
• biasanya jangka waktu penjurubahasaan lebih lama daripada cara simultan, karena ada interval waktu.

Cara simultan
Cara ini kebanyakan digunakan dalam peristiwa-peristiwa berskala besar, misalnya konperensi, KTT, rapat dewan, pelatihan-pelatihan, yakni yang memerlukan penataan ruang seperti kelas atau auditorium. Namun, tidak tertutup kemungkinan untuk menggunakan cara ini dalam ‘liaison interpreting’ untuk kepentingan masyarakat, misalnya dalam pemeriksaan kesehatan.
Pada dasarnya:
• juru bahasa mendengarkan pembicara dan langsung menerjemahkannya ke dalam bahasa sasaran, hampir tanpa jarak waktu;
• cara simultan yang berskala besar seringkali memerlukan peralatan khusus (seperti ‘booth’);
• penggunaan waktunya efektif, karena bersifat ‘real time’ (bila dibandingkan dengan cara konsekutif)
Mungkin perlu dicatat di sini bahwa dalam penjurubahasaan konperensi, apalagi yang sangat resmi seperti KTT internasional, seringkali juru bahasa harus rajin ‘berburu’ teks, setidaknya sehari sebelum pelaksanaan tugasnya, misalnya dengan menghubungi panitia pihak negara lain. Seringkali delegasinya sudah mempunyai teks yang tertulis. Hal ini akan sangat memudahkan tugas juru bahasa pada hari pelaksanaan.

Cara berbisik
Pada dasarnya:
• Juru bahasa duduk di belakang partisipan dan menerjemahkan secara langsung melalui bisikan ke telinga pendengar (contohnya: pada zaman Orba, kita seringkali melihat di TV Pak Harto ditemani oleh ‘pak Gundul’ yang menjadi juru bahasanya dan duduk di belakangnya).

(c) Contoh kasus
Ada dua contoh yang ditayangkan: 1. Community interpreting; 2. TIS (Telephone Interpreting Service). Dalam contoh kasus 1 (lihat lampiran), dapat dilihat contoh ‘community interpreting’. Dalam contoh ini, seorang ibu yang hanya bisa berbahasa Mandarin ingin menanyakan kemajuan belajar anaknya bernama ‘Kar’ kepada Kepala Sekolah. Dalam peristiwa penjurubahasaan ini dapat kita perhatikan hal-hal berikut (melalui video):
1. diperlukannya ‘note taking’;
2. diperlukannya pemahaman peristilahan;
3. diperlukannya pemahaman sistem pendidikan (dalam hal ini sistem Australia);
4. adanya pelanggaran kode etik (lihat kode etik nomor 5 pada 1(c) di atas). Perhatikanlah bagaimana juru bahasa ‘menafsirkan’ ucapan Kepala Sekolah, pada bagian akhir teks (lihat lampiran)

Ada beberapa kemungkinan ‘penyebab’ mengapa juru bahasa ‘melanggar kode etik’:
1. dia tidak mengalami persekolahan di Australia dan tidak memahami sistem penilaian yang berlaku, tetapi tidak mau bertanya;
2. juru bahasa memperoleh akreditasi dari ‘tes’ dan tidak terlatih menangani peristiwa yang menimbulkan keraguan baginya.

Berdasarkan alasan (2) ini, banyak juga juru bahasa yang memilih menjalani pelatihan formal daripada mengambil tes akreditasi.
Demikian juga pada contoh yang kedua, yang menuntut pemahaman non-bahasa. Contoh TIS yang ditayangkan di sini kebetulan masih menggunakan ‘telepon kuno’ karena contoh tersebut direkam di tahun 95-an. Namun demikian, prinsip ‘telephone link-up’ yang digunakan dalam TIS tetap sama (seperti yang sudah disebutkan sebelumnya dalam prinsip tele-conference). Pihak-pihak yang terlibat dalam kegiatan tersebut tak terbatasi oleh batas fisik.
Contoh yang paling mudah untuk disebutkan di sini adalah ketika ada proses adopsi oleh orang tua angkat Australia yang calon anaknya ada di negara lain. Hukum Australia mengharuskan DoCS (Department of Community Services) untuk mewawancarai orang tua kandung. Peristiwa ini tentu melibatkan juru bahasa melalui TIS, dan ketiga pihak (pewawancara, orang tua kandung, calon orang tua angkat) semuanya ada di rumah masing-masing, di negara masing-masing.

Terdapat dua jenis pelatihan yang harus dibedakan: ‘trade courses’ yang diselenggarakan oleh TAFE (sejenis akademi) dan pelatihan yang lebih merupakan pencapaian prestasi akademik atau sebagai kajian akademik di perguruan tinggi.

Penerjemahan dan Penjurubahasaan sebagai ‘Trade courses’
Dengan memperhatikan sejarah lahirnya COPQ dan NAATI tersebut di atas, maka jelaslah bahwa tujuan dasar bagi penjelanggaraan kegiatan penjurubahasaan dan penerjemahan (Interpreting and Translating disingkat I/T) adalah untuk kepentingan masyarakat. Itulah sebabnya, kedua kegiatan tersebut disebut “Community Interpreting and Translating”. Sebagaimnana dsiebutkan di atas, bahkan tersedia ‘Telephone Interpreting Service’ (TIS).
Oleh karena ciri dan hakikat I/T di Australia yang demikian itu, maka pelatihan dan pengajaran di bidang I/T pun banyak yang mengarah ke sana, khususnya yang diselenggarakan oleh TAFE. Pelatihan yang diselenggarakan tersebut mengarah ke kualifikasi yang disebut ‘trade’ atau ketrampilan siap pakai, yang oleh Departemen Imigrasi ‘dihargai’ dengan jumlah ‘poin’ tertentu apabila seseorang ‘melamar’ untuk hidup sebagai penduduk tetap di Australia.
Pelatihan yang diberi akreditasi oleh NAATI semakin banyak dikejar orang, karena ‘harga’ tersebut. Itulah pula sebabnya NAATI menjadi lembaga yang semakin ‘powerful’. Artinya, meskipun seseorang sudah menyelesaikan program tertentu di sebuah universitas, kalau lulus dia tidak serta merta bisa (baca boleh) praktek sebagai juru bahasa/penerjemah tanpa akreditasi NAATI. Kenyataannya, memang akreditasi NAATI juga diakui oleh PBB. Memang ada pengecualian dalam praktek, misalnya penerjemahan teks yang tak ada signifikansinya bagi urusan keimigrasian tidak memerlukan akreditasi NAATI. Sebagai contoh, penerjemah yang bekerja di pusat-pusat riset (misalnya di the Australian SMERU research centre di Jakarta) tidak disyaratkan akreditasi ini. Yang diperlukan justru paham Trados.

Maka, seringkali kalau ada jurusan yang menawarkan mata kuliah ‘translating’ dan/atau ‘interpreting’ di universitas, mahasiswa seringkali bertanya apakah ada akreditasi NAATI untuk itu. Jelaslah bahwa tanpa akreditasi ini, mata kuliah tersebut ‘kurang laku dijual’. Seringkali pula, para dosen pengajar mata kuliah ini harus menulis secara eksplisit dalam ‘course outline’ bahwa mata kuliah ini melulu kajian akademik dan tidak ada sangkut-pautnya dengan akreditasi NAATI.
Bagi lembaga-lembaga pendidikan seperti TAFE yang diakui oleh NAATI, harus ada standar jumlah jam latihan tertentu yang harus dipenuhi. Itupun oleh NAATI disebut “NAATI approved courses” bukan “NAATI accredited courses”.

Penerjemahan dan Penjurubahasaan sebagai Mata Kuliah di Perguruan Tinggi

Seperti disampaikan di atas, mahasiswa seringkali bertanya apakah suatu prgram atau mata kuliah I/T diberi akreditasi NAATI. Sebagai mata kuliah atau program, ada keseimbangan antara teori dan praktek, atau bahkan kadang-kadang lebih banyak teori daripada prakteknya. Alasannya, diharapkan para mahasiswa akan melanjutkan kajiannya ini dalam bentuk riset di belakang hari. Toh untuk praktek, mereka bisa mengambil tes NAATI.
Seringkali, di beberapa Perguruan tinggi, mata kuliah I/T ini berdiri sendiri sebagai mata kuliah pilihan (misalnya dalam program Applied Linguistics di UNSW). Namun, ada juga yang menawarkannya sebagai paket yang terpadu, meskipun terkadang masih dalam bentuk tambal-sulam, misalnya paket yang ditawarkan oleh Macquarie University, pada tingkat Magister (lihat; Jurusan Bahasa Cina di UNSW mempunyai struktur yang serupa.

Di universitas Macquarie, misalnya, ada satuan mata kuliah inti dan satuan pilihan. Uniknya, praktek penerjemahan diletakkan sebagai satuan pilihan (bukan wajib). Hal ini tentunya sangat berbeda dengan trade courses di TAFE.
Di UNSW, keadaannya lebih-lebih lagi, karena, misalnya, mata kuliah yang saya ajarkan “Translation: Theory and Practice” merupakan bagian dari program “Applied Linguistics” yang ditawarkan di Jurusan Linguistik. Pada tataran School (yang menjadi ‘payung’ bagi jurusan-jurusan bahasa dan linguistik) sekarang ditawarkan program magister yang lebih terpadu, meskipun tanpa embel-embel ‘akreditasi NAATI’. Ada upaya untuk ‘berkiblat’ ke Montreal (The Monterey Institute of International studies) yang mempunyai program dengan penekanan pada conference interpreting. Namun, inipun masih belum terlaksana sepenuhnya.

Tidak mudah memilih prinsip atau ‘ideologi’ yang mendasari model pelatihan yang dipilih: apakah lebih ke teori, lebih ke praktek, ataukah keseimbangan antara keduanya serta bagaimana bentuknya. Mengingat asal-mula terbentuknya NAATI dan sejarah kegiatan I/T di Australia, maka idealnya memang segala pelatihan mengarah ke sana. Namun, bila melulu ideologi ini yang diikuti, maka ‘translation as academic studies’ bisa terkesampingkan. Padahal, translation studies sekarang sudah jauh berkembang menjadi kajian yang semakin menarik, yang bisa diantarkaitkan dengan kajian lain seperti postcolonial studies, discourse studies, dll. Yang paling umum adalah kaitannya dengan cultural studies.


Sebagai praktisi juru bahasa (dan penerjemah), banyak hal yang saya rasakan perubahannya akhir-akhir ini. Misalnya, dengan tersedianya ratron atau email, kegiatan penerjemahan menjadi tidak terbatasi oleh batas geografis. Kadang-kadang, ada pesanan dari Amerika untuk dikerjakan di Australia, dari Indonesia untuk dikerjakan di Singapura, dsb.

Dengan demikian, untuk teks-teks yang tidak ada kaitannya dengan dokumen keimigrasian, akreditasi NAATI tidak lagi terlalu diperlukan, dan kadang-kadang klien bahkan tidak menanyakannya. Untuk kegiatan penerjemahan dalam volume yang besar, yang seringkali ditanyakan oleh klien atau perusahaan besar adalah: apakah penerjemah punya trados. Trados adalah program ‘information management’ yang dikeluarkan oleh Microsoft (kabarnya baru saja dibeli oleh perusahaan SDL). Melalui program ini, penerjemahan teks dalam jumlah besar yang memerlukan konsistensi frase dan peristilahan akan mudah dikerjakan. Namun, dengan harganya yang tak terjangkau, seringkali penerjemah lepas tidak bisa membelinya.

Melalui ratron, segala ‘order’ penerjemahan sekarang bisa dilakukan, termasuk ‘subtitling’ atau ‘screen translating’. Di masa lalu, penerjemah harus menghitung jumlah karakter dalam terjemahannya agar tidak memenuhi layar kaca. Dengan tersedianya ratron, penghitungan tersebut tidak lagi diperlukan. Klien akan mengirim teks elektronik (berbentuk teletext) lengkap dengan ruang yang sudah ditetapkan untuk terjemahannya, dan penerjemah tinggal menyesuaikannya dengan konteks (termasuk konteks visual dalam kasus penerjemahan film).

Seperti disebutkan di atas, kegiatan penjurubahasaan pun sudah bisa memanfaatkan kemajuan teknologi melalui tele-conference.

Organisasi profesi lewat ratron
Dengan timbulnya berbagai mailing lists atau kelompok diskusi melalui ratron belakangan ini, solidaritas antar para penerjemah (dan juru bahasa) semakin luas dan terbina dengan baik. Salah satu ajang diskusi dan tukar pikiran yang melibatkan bahasa Indonesia adalah “bahtera” (website:, dan mailing list-nya adalah ( Tentu banyak sudah menjadi anggotanya (mungkin dari para hadirin juga).
Dengan adanya ‘mailing list’ tersebut, poin terakhir dalam kode etik NAATI (professional solidarity) sangat mudah dilaksanakan (meski pelaksananya tidak mengetahui adanya kode etik tersebut). Lowongan-lowongan penjurubahasaan juga seringkali disampaikan melalui ‘Bahtera’.


Globalisasi telah menyebabkan perubahan besar dalam berbagai bidang, termasuk di bidang penerjemahan dan penjurubahasaan. Berdasarkan pengalaman Australia sebagai Negara multicultural, telah dibahas kegiatan penjurubahasaan dan penerjemahan di Australia, yang muncul dari kebutuhan masyarakat. Berdasarkan kebutuhan ini telah dibentuk Badan Otonom yang mengatur akreditasinya.
Oleh karena sejarahnya yang melibatkan urusan keimigrasian, maka kegiatan penerjemahan dan penjurubahasaan pada awalnya hanya ditangani sebagai bagian dari Departemen Imigrasi. Baru beberapa lama kemudian, penerjemah dan juru bahasa menjadi profesi yang diakui keberadaannya secara hukum sehingga penetapan ‘gaji’nya pun diatur. Seiring dengan itu, dibentuk pula Lembaga Profesi yang menelurkan kode etik profesi. Seiring dengan itu pula, pelatihan penerjemahan dan penjurubahasaan disesuaikan dengan tuntunan NAATI, dan untuk kepentingan akreditasi NAATI. Namun, penerjemahan dan penjurubahasaan juga menjadi ranah ‘pendidikan’ di perguruan tinggi yang seringkali menekankan sisi teoretik penerjemahan. Di sinilah sisi yang perlu diperhatikan dan masih perlu pemecahan mengenai iedologi yang dianut, dsb.
Seiring dengan kemajuan teknologi, penerjemahan tidak hanya melibatkan ‘manusia’ sebagai ‘pelaksana’ penerjemahan. Ada perangkat lunak yang bisa membantu manusia dalam menerjemahkan suatu teks. Bidang teknologi ini merupakan hal yang tidak bisa dilupakan dalam pelatihan dan pendidikan penerjemah.


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At the headmaster’s office: Mrs. Lam – Cantonese

HM= Headmaster; I = Interpreter; M= Mother (Mrs. Lam)

HM: How can I help you?
M: …………………………..
I: I want to see you today because I want to talk to you about my son’s study plan.
HM: Tell Mrs. Lam she’s got nothing to worry about. Kar is doing well in all of his subjects.
I: …………………………..
M: …………………………..
I: Yes, all except Math.
HM: Math IS one of his weakest subjects, but it’s above the average, and is improving all the time.
I: ( to M) …………………………..
M: …………………………..
I: (to HM) But we want him to do dentistry and we think he should do 4 Unit Math and I have heard that these difficult subjects are scaled up, so Karr would get better marks? Is that true?
HM: No, I think he should concentrate on his stronger subjects. And it’s common perception that scaling increases your TER score. Now what actually happens is that all courses in the HSC are given the mean percentage. This applies, whether the courses are Math, Math in Society or 4 Unit Math.
I: (to M) …………………………..
HM: (cont) Scaling depends upon the mean and ability of the course candidates. And it may be true that students who choose to do Math in practice are of the lesser ability than students who choose to do 4 Unit Math. So if the course has students in it who are above the average they will be scaled down, and if there are students who are below the average, they will be scaled up.
I: (to M- hesitant, in Cantonese)…. (with subtitles on the screen) scaling depends on the ability of the candidate, but students who choose 4 Unit Math are probably better… Students who are doing worse than others will be scaled up.
M: (in Cantonese — with subtitles) O I see. I’ll take him to 4 unit Math tutoring over the summer break. (…terus mengangguk dan pergi)…….
HM: What did you tell her?