Academic journal article K@ta

Verbal Offers Used by Snack Vendors in Malang*

Academic journal article K@ta

Verbal Offers Used by Snack Vendors in Malang*

Article excerpt

Abstract: This paper attempts to analyse the call utilized by the street hawkers who sold snacks in Malang, a small town in East Java. The results indicate that their utterances could be classified into five categories. Most of them observed the Gricean maxims, a few flouted them, but none disobeyed them. In general the snack vendors could be considered conforming to the cooperative principle in offering their merchandise to the hearers or the customers.

Key words: pragmatic analysis, cooperative principle, Gricean maxims, verbal offer.

Scientific interest in human speech in relation to its use in the context has gathered momentum for the past few decades. Scholars have increasingly realized that the physical and social environments in which utterances are delivered significantly shape their meaning interpreted by the participants of an exchange. This equally applies to the spoken language articulated by vendors who are attempting to promote what they are selling while peddling along the streets in Malang. The present paper examines their verbal expressions of offer, but it confines the discussion only to the language spoken by vendors who sell snacks.

It has been proposed that language as a means of communication basically serves two functions, namely transactional and interactional functions (Brown & Yule, 1984). When language is used to transmit content or information, it is mainly transactional in nature. Conversely, it fulfils interactional function if it is spoken to establish or maintain social relationships. McCarthy (1998), however, observes that spoken language contains a large number of lexical items which are mainly interactional. This concurs with the phenomenon examined in the present paper, namely the language conveying offer as spoken by the snack vendors in Malang. Their language can be considered as having interactional function in this specific community as it does not merely inform the customers (the hearers) about what the vendors are selling, but also to attract the customers' attention so that an act of purchasing the snacks will expectedly follow from the verbal offer. Thus, it is obvious that the vendors attempt to establish a good social relationship with the customers.

To serve this function well, some of the snack vendors make excellent use of their creativity to invent verbal expressions of offer such that these expressions deserve a deeper analysis to reveal their pragmatic meanings. This paper, therefore, aims to investigate the words and phrases which they utilize to offer their merchandise and the degree to which they comply with a pragmatic principle proposed by Grice (1989). The key questions addressed in this paper are: What expressions do the vendors in Malang use to offer snacks and to what extent do these expressions conform to the Gricean cooperative principle and its four maxims?

Prior to answering the above research questions, it is crucial to define the scope of pragmatics and outline the principle and maxims which serve as a theoretical framework in the study.


Pragmatics emerges as an independent field of study primarily because semantics frequently fails to provide sufficient explanations with regard to meaning. While semantics caters for the literal meaning of an expression, it does not take the context in which it is uttered into account (Cutting, 2002). Pragmatics, on the contrary, recognizes the importance of context, and thus can reveal the meaning underlying a certain utterance. To construct the appropriate meaning in an exchange, the speakers and the hearers need to negotiate it, taking physical, social, and linguistic contexts as well as the meaning potential of the utterances into consideration (Thomas, 1995).

Aitchison (1995) underlines that in a narrow sense pragmatics is concerned with how listeners arrive at the intended meaning of the speaker, whereas in the broadest sense it deals with the general principles followed by human beings when they are communicating with one another. …

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