Intrusive Busybody or Benevolent Buddy: Phatic Communication among Javanese Women

Yuli Widiana, Sumarlam Sumarlam, Sri Marmanto, Dwi Purnanto, Mohamed Zain Sulaiman


Phatic communication is a discourse mechanism used primarily to establish and maintain social bonds. It operates differently across societies as well as genders within the same society. Thus, failure to understand such differences might result in misunderstanding and communication breakdowns. This paper discusses the phatic communication of the Javanese, the largest ethnic group in Indonesia. We focus primarily on the Javanese women who represent the majority of the Javanese population. Understanding the unique characteristics of their phatic communication would certainly play an important role in the cross-cultural network. The sociopragmatic approach is used for the analytical procedure to scrutinize the characteristics of Javanese women's phatic communication and the data are collected by taking field notes, conducting in-depth interviews, and distributing Discourse Completion Tasks (DCT) questionnaire. The findings show that Javanese women use phatic communication for initiating a conversation, intensifying camaraderie, pleasing others, expressing happiness, and consoling others. The main function is to sustain social rapport. Some phatic talk topics that may be regarded in certain cultures as intrusive and humiliating, such as those which concern one’s private life, are not considered so among Javanese women. To Javanese women, phatic communication is crucial in maintaining and promoting solidarity. Understanding phatic communication among Javanese women would contribute to successful cross-cultural communication in building social networks and business affairs, definitely.


Javanese; women; phatic; communication; politeness

Full Text:



Aitchison, J. (1996). The Seeds of Speech: Language Origin and Evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Endraswara, S. (2005). Buku Pinter Budaya Jawa: Mutiara Adiluhung Orang Jawa. Yogyakarta: Gelombang Pasang.

Falah, F. (2009). Javanese Women in Hybridism (A Cross-Cultural Feminist Psychology). Proyeksi. 4(2), 15–28.

Geertz, C. (1976). The Religion of Java. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Gray, J. (2017). Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. London: HarperCollins.

Gunarwan, A. (2007). Pragmatik: Teori dan Kajian Nusantara. Jakarta: Penerbit Universitas Atma Jaya.

Holmes, J. (2013a). An Introduction to Sociolinguistics (4th ed.). London: Routledge.

Holmes, J. (2013b). Women, Man, and Politeness. New York: Routledge.

House, J. (2005). Politeness in Germany: Politeness in Germany? In L. Hickey & M. Stewart (Eds.), Politeness in Europe (pp. 13-29). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

Hymes, D. H. (1972). Models of the interaction of language and social life. In J. Gumperz & D. Hymes (Eds.), Directions in Soiolinguistics: The Ethnography of Communication (pp. 583–597). New York:

Holt, Rinehart and Winston.

Jaworski, A. (2000). Silence and small talk. In J. Coupland (Ed.), Small Talk (pp. 110 – 133). London: Longman.

Jumanto. (2014). Phatic Communication: How English Native Speakers Create Ties of Union. American Journal of Linguistics. 3, 9–16.

Kádár, D. Z., & Haugh, M. (2013). Understanding Politeness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kreidler, C. W. (1998). Introducing English Semantics. Hove: Psychology Press.

Kuang, C. H., David, M. K., & Lau, S. K. (2013). Politeness of Front Counter Staff of Malaysian Private Hospitals. GEMA OnlineTM Journal of Language Studies. 13(1), 5–23.

Leech, G. (1983). Principles of Pragmatics. New York: Longman.

Leech, G. (2014). The Pragmatics of Politeness. The Pragmatics of Politeness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lestari, P. M., Djatmika, Sumarlam & Purnanto, D. (2019). The Structure Pattern of Ngrasani ‘Gossiping’ by Javanese Women in Indonesia. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology. 35(1), 116–

Malinowski, B. (1923). The Problem of Meaning in Primitive Languages. In C. K. Ogden & I. A. Richards (Eds.), The Meaning of Meaning: A Study of the Influence of Language upon Thought and the

Science of Symbolism (pp. 296–336). London: K. Paul, Trend, Trubner.

Masykuroh, Q. & Widyastuti, H. (2019). Javanese women in the workplace: Phatic utterances at the opening phase of daily conversation. Konferensi Linguistik Tahunan Atma Jaya 17 Conference

Proceedings, 10-12 April, Jakarta ISSN 2549-810X (pp. 375-378).

Reiter, R. M. & Placencia, M. E. (2005). Spanish Pragmatics. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

Rygg, K. (2016). Was Malinowski Norwegian? Norwegian Interpretations of Phatic Talk. Journal of Intercultural Communication. 40.

Schneider, K. P. (2008). Small Talk in England, Ireland, and the U.S.A. In K. P. Schneider & A. Barron (Eds.), Variational Pragmatics (pp. 99–139). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Smith-Hefner, N. J. (1988). Women and politeness: The Javanese example. Language in Society. 17(4), 535–554.

Sulaiman, Mohamed Zain & Wilson, R. (2018). Translating Tourism Promotional Materials: A Cultural-Conceptual Model. Perspectives Studies in Translation Theory and Practice. 26(5), 629–645.

Sutarsih, S. (2010). Sapa aruh: Strategi pemersatu bangsa dan pemerkaya bahasa. Seminar Nasional Pemertahanan Bahasa Nusantara Conference Proceedings, 6 May, Semarang (pp. 244-248).

Tannen, D. (1992). How men and women use language differently in their lives and in the classroom. Education Digest. 57, 3–6.

Wierzbicka, A. (2003). Cross-Cultural Pragmatics: The Semantics of Human Interaction. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Yuarsi, S. E., Dzuhayatin, Ruhaini, S. & Sofiana. (2002). Tembok Tradisi dan Tindak Kekerasan Terhadap Perempuan (The Wall of Tradition and Violence Toward Women). (A. M. Wattie, Ed.).

Yogyakarta: Kerja sama Pusat Studi Kependudukan dan Kebijakan Universitas Gadjah Mada dengan Ford Foundation.



  • There are currently no refbacks.




eISSN : 2550-2131

ISSN : 1675-8021