Analysis of Misunderstanding Caused by Different Interpretations of Speech Act Labels in Tintin and Asterix Comic Series

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  • Topic: Pragmatics, The Adventures of Tintin, Speech act
  • Pages : 21 (5964 words )
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  • Published : March 20, 2012
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Analysis of Misunderstanding Caused by Different Interpretations of Speech Act Labels in Tintin and Asterix Comic Series Farah Attamimi
English Department, Faculty of Letters, Maranatha Christian University, Suria Sumantri 65, Bandung 40164, Indonesia e-mail: farah.attamimi@yahoo.com Abstract: This paper presents analysis of misunderstanding occurred in a conversation which is caused by different interpretation of speech act labels between the speaker and the hearer. Misunderstanding occurred in these comic series causes various emotional effects to the hearer involved in the conversation. The hearer might feel happy, impressed, embarrassed, or even proud of what the speaker conveys through his/ her utterance. It depends on the face wants used and intended between the participants in the conversation. According to Goffman in Brown and Levinson (1987), “face is something that is emotionally invested, and that can be lost, maintained, or enhanced, and must be constantly attended to in interaction” (p. 60). There are two kinds of face wants. The positive purpose is called face saving act, while the negative one is called face threatening act. The data in this paper are taken from Tintin and Asterix comic series. The theories used cover pragmatics area, especially taxonomy of speech act theory (Yule, 1996; Mey, 2001; Leech, 1991) and theory of the notion of face by Erving Goffman (as cited in Yule, 1996; Thomas, 1995). Therefore, this paper will try to convey how the misinterpretation of speech act labels affects the participants in the conversation. Key words: misunderstanding, speech act labels, speaker, hearer, face wants, face saving act, face threatening act, participants

Language is one of the most important aspects in building communication. According to Nasr (as cited in Sukarno, 2010), “languages are said to be unique” (p. 59). Without language, both the verbal and non verbal language, people will not be able to communicate well. Levinson (1995) states that “communication is a complex kind of intention that is achieved or satisfied just by being recognized” (p. 16). However, as an

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utterance conveyed by a speaker may be interpreted as many more than one meaning by a hearer, even with the existence of language, misinterpretation may happen. Levinson defines an utterance as “the issuance of a sentence, a sentence-analogue, or sentence-fragment, in an actual context” (p. 18). A good communication, of course, needs to be supported by the use of appropriate language in one circumstance with the intention of conveying the correct information or messages to the other participants, so as to avoid misinterpretation. Crowley & Mitchell (as cited in Tupan & Natalia, 2008), support the above explanation that “in a conversation, a speaker and a hearer are supposed to respond to each other in their turn and exchange with the needed information that benefits both of them” (p. 63). The subject of misunderstanding is interesting to discuss because it is something that commonly happens, regardless of time, place and participants of the conversation. In addition, it gives the writer such a big curiosity to find out some factors affecting misunderstanding and the various emotional effects on the participants appearing in a certain conversation. One of the factors that cause misinterpretation in human communication is the different interpretation of speech act labels. The same words can be used to perform different speech act; therefore, different words can be used to perform the same speech act (as cited in Thomas, 1995, p. 51). One utterance which is labelled a question by a speaker may be interpreted differently by a hearer. For instance, the hearer may interpret it as an insult. As a result, this misinterpretation may cause him or her to feel offended. In association with the above opinion, Grundy (2000) adds that “a sentence with...
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