KnE Social Sciences | The 1st Annual International Conference on Language and Literature (AICLL) | pages: 904–910


1. Introduction

Language signifies the culture of a region and one could know where someone comes from the language used. Culture, according to Ashkanasy (2011: 14) is then understood to be a system of common symbols and meaning. Culture can be thought of as a series of layers of personality formation resulting from the various groups into which a person has been socialized. But in society there is a culture that requires a person to have a Silence and Politeness attitude that has a certain value and meaning. In Nias Island of north Sumatera province, people have unique culture in certain events or situations, those are Silence and Politeness and these two points of discussion are related to the use of language and according to Alison (2010: 6) a primary function of language is for humans to convey information to each other or request services of some kind in a variety of situations.

According to Krauss (1980) language is implicated in most of the phenomena that lie at the core of social psychology: attitude change, social perception, personal identity, social interaction, intergroup bias and stereotyping, attribution, and so on. Moreover, for social psychologists, language typically is the medium by which subjects' responses are elicited, and in which they respond: in social psychological research, more often than not, language plays a role in both stimulus and response.

Parikh (2001: 12) states that communication is the main typical use and intended information flowing between agents. Communication typically involves two people. In language and communication there is always a style of language that can affect a person's situation and understanding. Communication implies a relative openness of information flow. In particular, the speaker's intention is revealed in communication. The easiest way to think of communication is through its common meaning in several languages: as transportation, or a means of getting a message from one point to another. In fact, some of the earliest models of communication emphasized this mechanical means of moving a message.

2. Literature Review

As the study goes to the analysis of silence and politeness, theories concerning these two points are presented below.

Silence, according to Bao (2013: 17) plays a role in monitoring language, develop communication strategy. While according to Paulston (2012: 211) politeness is thus a matter of interactional negotiation between participants, with social relationships constructed through the interaction itself.

Then Al-Harahsheh (2012: 247) says that silence is a multifaceted and complex linguistic phenomenon, because its interpretation is ambiguous and relies heavily on the socio-cultural norms of a certain society, and the context of situation. The function of silence not only marks the boundaries of utterances, but also has the stylistic function of emphasizing arguments and ideas. While Politeness is necessary in conversation, because it represents the strength, or the depth of social rapport between speakers. Al-Harahsheh (2012: 254) further says that conversation in general is based on respect between participants. The attitude of silence and politeness in the community gives value and sense of a certain meaning, so that a sense of kinship and respect to others.

3. Research Method

The research was conducted by using qualitative research, supported by Phenomenological approach to find answers the points of discussion. Finlay (2009: 8) says that phenomenological research is phenomenological when it involves both rich description of the life world or lived experience. The participants involved in data validation are 5 males and 5 females, who absolutely know about the culture of Nias, especially the ones tied to silence and politeness.

4. Discussions

Silence and politeness have meanings in society in order to establish a good relationship with each other. Prayer, as an example of silent language, is to thank God for the blessings and grace given to us. In Nias Island praying is usually carried out before bed and as soon as getting up and also can be done whenever appropriate to the situation. And mostly people are silent in time of praying.

Apart from being silent as cultural phenomena, Nias people are also demanded to be polite in any situation, especially in social gathering. Politeness is one of the central features of human communication. It is a human phenomenon yet expressed differently in different cultures. Politeness is communicated both verbally and nonverbally. Politeness norms and behaviours are culturally and socially learned, and misunderstandings are therefore intercultural common.

Politeness is a great virtue. A person who behaves politely towards others is not only respected but loved also. People speak well of him/her on all occasions. Politeness towards others means that we are civilized and cultured. A rude person can never be called cultured. He always gives offence to others with his bad manners. But a polite person will always please others by his polite behavior and good manners. Politeness means consideration for feelings of others. A polite man always puts the feelings of others first. He will not say things that will hurt them; he will never speak in a rude way that will offend them. Politeness has been called the oil of the social machine.

Silence and politeness are interrelated. Silence means politeness and reversely politeness should be supported by silence. Both are language phenomena. In matters of politeness, Nias people have certain dictions reflecting the importance of politeness as well as silence in some contexts. The data are shown below.

Table 1

Contextual Silence and Politeness.

No. Participants Situation/ Cause Meaning in Nias
1 A Prayer Mangande
2 A Marriage Mangowalu
3 A Religious Famati
4 A Party Karamia
5 A Election of customary head Famili satua mbanua
6 B Greeting Yahowu
7 B Marriage Mangowalu
8 B Religious Famati
9 B Party Karamia
10 B Election of customary head Famili satua mbanua

Prayer is the thanksgiving to the Lord for His blessings and grace to His people so that His people get a better life. In Nias language, “Fangande yaia dae bawangande saohagele khe lowalangi mbei yaita bere meno ibee kheda waauri sile aetu”.

Marriage is the blessing of men and women to husband and wife both in religion and government texts. In Nias language,” Mangowalu yaia dae bawofabebe nono matua ba ono alawe enae tobali ira hasambua mongambate ba khe lowalangi ba khe famareta”.

Religion is a belief in an all-powerful God over the life He has given. In Nias language, ”Famati yaia dae faafarisayo khe lowalangi so mbei yaita”.

Party is a crowd held on gratitude and thanks for the blessings gained. In Nias language, ”Karamia yaia dae angowuloata niha sato faomuso dede kheda bazino alua sisekhi”.

Election of customary head is the granting of a person to the agreement of a group of people who have agreed that in the future the head is entrusted to take decisions in the customs of the community. Meaning in Nias language, ”Famili Satua Mbanua yaia dae famee dadaoma khe niha sino mufili sino hasara dede niha sato, bawololohe bawamakhoi angetula hada bakha bambanua”.

Greeting is an expression to a person in a meeting signifying the cultural characteristics of the island of Nias. In Nias language, “Yahowu yaia dae fangowai niha sifalukha kheda sitobali hada banono niha”.

Table 2

Situation/ Cause, Silence and Politeness.

No Situation/ Cause Silence /Meaning Politeness /Meaning Relationship Silence and Politeness
1 Prayer Wishing Trust People pray to God to fully trust him.
2 Marriage Respect Advice The bride should appreciate and listen to the advice of their parents
3 Religious Appreciating Believing Religious events provide deep meaning by appreciating and believing
4 Party    - Thanks God -
5 Election of Customary Head Appreciate Listening Customary heads when giving speeches to his peer group appreciated by listening
6 Greeting    - Culture -

The percentage of Relationship between Silence and Politeness is counted by using formula:


In which,

N = the Percentages of Situation/ Cause

X = the Silence Meaning and Politeness Meaning

Y = the Total Relationship Silence and Politeness

Table 3

Result Percentage of the Relationship Between Silence and Politeness in Nias Island.

No Situation/ Cause Silence (X1) Politeness (X2) Total Relation Percentage
1 Prayer 1 1 2 20%
2 Marriage 1 1 2 20%
3 Religious 1 1 2 20%
4 Party 0 1 1 10%
5 Election of Customary Head 1 1 2 20%
6 Greeting 0 1 1 10%
N X1=4 X2=6 Y=10 100%

Prayer = 210×100%=200:10=20% ; Marriage = 210×100%=200:10=20% ; Religious = 210×100%=200:10=20% ; Party = 110×100%=100:10=10% ; Election of Custom Head = 210×100%=200:10=20% ; Greeting = 110×100%=100:10=10% .

Based on the percentage above, the relationship between Silence and Politeness in Nias Island: Prayer: 20%, Marriage: 20%, Religious: 20% Party: 10%, Election of Customary Head: 20%, Greeting: 10%. with silence of six situations/ causes: Prayer, Marriage, Religious Event, Party, Election of Customary Head and Greeting.

5. Conclusions

In Nias Island both silence and politeness are interconnected in carrying out cultural customs. Tied to linguistic politeness is a very complicated issue influenced by multiple factors including general face want of participants, the participants' societal positions and social relationships, social norm that the participants share, and discernment or interpretation of the social rules, as well as immediate context of the interaction, and possible strategies for the interactions to choose under the constrains of the other simultaneously functioning factors.

Silence and Politeness in Nias Island had relationship within a society that unifies the existing cultural diversity. The relationship can be seen from the situation / causes of the occurrence of activities such as weddings that begin with greeting each other related to religion, belief, and the involvement of the customary head that cannot be separated from the attitude of respecting to God with a grateful and pray.

It is necessary that any cultural norms and phenomena be preserved. Silence and politeness are the pillars of the cultural contexts in Nias Island and these two things could be found in the daily activities of the local people.


To begin with, the researcher would like to thank God for all the blessings obtained so that this paper could be done well. Expressions of gratitude are also conveyed to Department of English Applied Linguistics, Postgraduate program of State University of Medan; all the lecturers in English Applied Linguistics Postgraduate School of State University of Medan; people in Nias Island especially, the informants giving contribution to the data completion; and all friends in Academic year of 2017.



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ISSN: 2518-668X