KnE Social Sciences | The 1st Annual International Conference on Language and Literature (AICLL) | pages: 278–286

1. Introduction

Tanah Surga Merah by Arafat Nur is a novel that tells about Murad, the first character and political conflict in Aceh. Murad is a former soldier of GAM standing for the Free Aceh Movement (Gerakan Aceh Merdeka). In the past, he was a deputy leader in Sagoe, a forest near Pidie regency. After agreement between government and GAM in 2005, all of GAM members stop to conflict against government and give their weapons to the government. They move into political field and they make red party as representative of their interest in political field. However, Murad has different perception about politics. He is trying to make a party of his own, thinking that his party could be expected to do good for the people.

The points of discussion are concerned about the utterances expressed by the first character in the novel by means of linguistics approach. The writer wants to know the relation between linguistics and literary work through this research. It is common that literary work, such as novel, is analyzed through linguistic approach. Green (1993) states, “It is very common to analyze literary works through literary stylistics, but analyzing literary works from linguistics, especially from semantics and pragmatics is uncommon”.

Some experts have given their statement about the relation between linguistics approach, consisting of declarations, representatives, expressive, directives and comissives. In linguistics, it is representated by speech act theory which is a part of pragmatics. The writer cites from some experts about the relation between speech act and literary works. Gaynesford (2010: 3) states, “Speech act theory stands to benefit from the fact that utterances in poetry can be performative, and explicitly so. We can add to what we know about such acts from the study of non-poetic uses of language alone”. In addition, Miller (2001) states,

“Speech act in literature can mean speech acts that are uttered within literary works, for example promises, lies, excuse, declaration, imprecations, requests for forgiveness, apologies, pardons and the like said or written by the characters or by the narrator in a novel.”

2. Literature Review

Yule states, “The action performed by producing an utterance will consist of three related acts. The first is locutionary act which is the basic act of utterance, or producing a meaningful linguistics expression. Next, the second is illocutionary acts which are performed via by the communicative force of an utterance. We might utter to make a statement, an offer, an explanation, or for some other communicative purpose. The third is perlocutionary acts which are the utterances with a function without intending it to have an effect” (Yule, 1996: 48).

Yule (1996: 48), based on Searle's categorization, classifies five types of general functions performed by speech acts. There are:

  • Declarations, which are kinds speech acts that change the world via utterance, e.g., sentencing, christening, naming, appointing, etc.

  • Representative, which are kinds of speech acts that state what the speaker believes to be the case or not, e.g., statements of fact, assertions, conclusions, and descriptions.

  • Expressive, which are kinds of speech acts that state what the speaker feels, e.g., statements of pleasure, pain, likes, dislikes, joy, and sorrow.

  • Directives, which are kinds of speech acts that are used by the speaker to get someone to do something, e.g., commands, orders, requests and suggestions.

  • Commisives, which are kinds of speech acts that the speaker uses to commit themselves to some future action, e.g., promises, threats, refusals, and pledges.

The above classification is the part of illocutionary acts presented by Searle. Those are the basis of taxonomy of fundamental classes of illocutionary acts. Searle believes if the basic unit of human linguistics communication is the illocutionary act (Searle, 1976: 1).

3. Research Method

This research is conducted by descriptive qualitative research. The data are utterances in the novel Tanah Surga Merah written by Arafat Nur. The data collection procedures are divided into some steps. The first step is the writer observes the novel. Then, the author reads the novel. Next, the author is searching information that is related to the novel and the topic of this study also. After that, the author classifies all the utterances.

4. Discussion



Five years ago, when this happened, the shari'ah police would arrest them, bringing them to the punishment stage, and whipped them after a Shari'ah court ruling. The religious advocates also incessantly attacked the evil makers, and demanded that the government punished them as hard as they could. It seemed that the enactment of this law had failed miserably and nobody cared anymore. (Fielding, 2016: 66-67)

From the above utterance, it can be seen that the first character used the word “them” referring to the people who were consciously breaking the rules determined by the sharia court ruling. But, in fact, the implementation of the law failed and nobody cared anymore.


Saifud, the man who was familiarly called Petua or an old and respected man was watching me closely, and for a moment he seemed to begin to be doubt. (Fielding, 2016: 17)

The above excerpt shows that the first character referred to Saifud as “petua”. Petua means the man who is highly respected in certain place. The goal of the first character in this section is to bring the reader to the new state of reality.

Representative speech acts

Yule (1996: 53), based on Searle's, states that, “Representatives are kinds of speech acts that state what the speaker believes to be the case or not”. On the other side, the first character wants to convey his belief that some argument is true. Examples of representatives are statement of fact, assertions, conclusions, and descriptions.

Statement of fact

Sunday, February 9, 2014, just in two months time before the council elections would be held, I arrived back in Aceh after five years of living as a fugitive. (Fielding, 2016: 1)

The above excerpts shows that the first character confirmed if Sunday of 2014 was 9 th February 2014. It is appropriate with calendar of 2014 or two months before the general election was held in May, 2014.


The government must enforce the death penalty in place for anyone who does not read the book. (Fielding 2016: 37)

From the above quotation, the first character gave assertion to the government if anyone who did not read a book, then they were proper to get death penalty. It happened because some students were lazy to read a book. If they were lazy to read a book, automatically, they would become stupid students.


I did not know of my sleep, I was surprised when I woke up and immediately looked around. I glanced at my watch, almost to the Ashar time. The atmosphere of the beach was already busy, from whence they came. There were several youth couples sitting on the rock while enjoying the snack, as if this Aceh was so peaceful and there was nothing else to be afraid of. (Fielding 2016: 63)

From the above utterance, the first character described the condition when he fell asleep on beach. After he woke up, he looked at the Acehnese people living in peace without conflict anymore.

In conclusion, the goal of the first character in this section is to bring the reader into his belief if some propositions are believed by him based on fact.

Expressives speech acts

Yule (1996: 53), based on Searle's, states that “expressives are kinds of speech acts that state what the speaker feels”. The first character wants to express psychological state by making an utterance. Examples of expressives are statements of pleasure, pain, likes and dislikes.

Statements of pleasure

I showed a fascinating novel of wonder, not for criticism, but a flattery that I could not show in any other way. (Fielding 2016: 30)

From the above utterance, the first character showed his fascinating to Abduh. Abduh had many books which were from different aspects. There were language book, history, novel and philosophy. Abduh was different from the others. Abduh liked to read a book but the others did not.


I felt my whole body hurt all. My face was throbbing, double-puffed, I felt my head full of bumps, near the crown of a bigger head, where the blow fell heavily. (Fielding, 2016: 19)

From the above utterance, the first character felt his whole body hurt all. He was hit by the attackers who were trying to kill him.


The param oil was efficacious too, I thought. I felt and pressed the bumps near the crooked head. (Fielding, 2016: 49)

From the above utterance, the first character liked param oil that fave good treatment for him.


I was lazy to meet them only for the mercy of a hundred thousand, the amount given every morning for their child's snack. (Fielding, 2016: 51)

From the above utterance, it happened while the first character visited his friend, Mukhtar. Mukhtar said if he did not like to visit his other friend because his friends were arrogant.

In conclusion, the goal of utterances performed by the first character in this section is to express what the first character feeling and deliver the feelings to the reader.

Directives speech act.

Yule (1996: 53), states based on Searle's, “directives are kinds of speech acts that are used by the first character to reign someone to do something”. Examples of directives are commands, orders, requests and suggestions.


Hadi ordered the guard to unlock the gate. Abduh immediately turned on his motorcycle and said he had to go. (Fielding, 2016: 114)

From the above quotations, the picture was seen that while the first character visited his friend, Hadi. Hadi was one of council members. Hadi ordered the guard to open the gate and let the first character enters his house. During the conversation between them, Hadi rejected to fight against the ruling party.


Please, you do not be so rude in this house. What if my wife and children heard. Now things had changed. Please, our language in the forest was not brought here. (Fielding 2016: 117)

From the quotation above, Hadi requested the first character not to be so rude in his house. Hadi stated that the condition was changed. Hadi was a former fighter from gam, but nowadays, Hadi turned into political field and he was as one of the council members. The languages which are uttered in his house are inappropriate to say in his house.


You could ask for help from Aminah. Selling a bit of land was not problem. Later, after getting married, you could buy a larger house. (Fielding, 2016: 127)

The above utterances happened while the first character visited his mother. The mother told the first character to marry immediately.

In conclusion, the goal of the first character in this section above is to express the orders done by the first character.

Commisives speech act

Yule (1996: 53), based on Searle's, states“commisives are kinds of speech acts that the speaker uses to commit themselves to some future action”. Examples of commisives are promises, threats, refusals and pledges. In this section, the author finds threat and refusal in the novel.


The members of orange party were getting harder to move, said Imran wagging the ends of his shirt. The two candidate councils of orange party here often got pressure and threats. But, they did not dare to act roughly because if anything happened, there was no other party that would be blamed by the police. (Fielding 2016: 136)

From the above utterance, the members of orange party were getting obstacled from the others, especially from red party members. They often got pressure and threats. But, they did not dare to act.


I gave half of the money which I found in Hadi's jacket to the mother. Mother refused because I could save the money for the additional cost of dowry. (Fielding 2016: 129)

From the above utterance, the first character gave money to his mother. But, the mother rejected the money. The mother said to the son, that the money could be used as additional cost to marry.

The findings show that there are five types of speech acts. The result of the study is formulated into the following table.

Table 1

No Speech Acts Numbers of Utterances %
1 Declarations 2 14.28%
2 Representatives 3 21.42%
3 Expressives 4 28.57%
4 Directives 3 21.42%
5 Commisives 2 14.28%
Total 14 100%

The research findings show that, 14.28% is declaratives, 21.42% representatives, 28.57% expressives, 21.42% directives and 14.28% commisives. Based on the findings, the expressives are the dominant form of speech act in the novel.

5. Conclusions

Tanah Surga Merah is a novel that shows the social condition and political conflict through the first characters by the name of Murad. The author analyzes the utterances in the novel by implementing Searle's speech act theory. Searle's speech act theory consists of declarations, representatives, expressives, directives and commissives. In each element, there are sub-elements. These elements are called as taxonomy of illocutionary act created by Searle. After analyzing the novel, the author writes points of conclusion in this section.

The author finds there are two declarative speech acts, three representative speech acts, four expressive speech acts, three directives speech acts and two commisive speech acts. The total of utterances are fourteen utterances. The expressives speech acts are the dominant form of speech act in the novel with the precentage of 28.57%.



Gaynesford, M.D. (2010). Speech acts and poetry. Retrieved on 08 November 2017 from


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Khotari, C. R. (2004). Research Metholodogy: Methods and Techniques. New Delhi: New Age International (P) Ltd., Publishers.


Miller, J. H. (2001). Speech Acts in Literature. Stanford: Stanford University


Nur, Arafat. (2016).Tanah Surga Merah. Jakarta: PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama.


Searle. G.R. (1976). The Classification of Illocutionary Acts. Language in Society. London: Cambridge university press.


Searle, John. R. (1985) Expression and Meaning in the Theory of Speech Acts. Cambridge: Cambridge Press


Jeane, W. Anastas,. (1999). Research Design for Social Work and the Human Services, Second Edition. Chischester: Columbia University Press.


Yule, George. (1996). Pragmatics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.



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