Pointing Gestures and Verbal Acts: Linguistic Boundaries in Barter Market by Puor and Lamalera People, East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia

Author: Ezra Mahresi Choesin, Dea Rifia Bella (Department of Anthropology, University of Indonesia)
Speaker: Ezra Mahresi Choesin, Dea Rifia Bella
Topic: Ethnography of communication
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2019 General Session


This article highlights the language practices done by the Puor and Lamarera people, South Lembata, East Nusa Tenggara in a ‘barter market’ context. They maintain the existence of ‘barter market’ as a routine rite in the midst of ‘money’ market. While interacting in the barter market, Puor and Lamarera people prefer to use their own local languages, instead of using Bahasa Indonesia that is regarded as a lingua franca among the linguistic diversity in Indonesia. The use of local language that is provoked by cultural assessment towards language is unavoidable. There is a statement that the addresser’s language has lurus dialect and the addressee’s language has tarik dialect. I see that the statement of saying lurus dialect is higher than tarik, influences the usage of the same repertoire which are pointing gesture and verbal acts in the process of negotiation. The combination of verbal act and pointing gesture as their repertoire that are conveyed as a message amplifier has various cultural meanings depend on the frame of reference in a communicative event. The use of pointing gesture and verbal act as their repertoire becomes the main rule of interacting in the barter market which also can be seen as a different social phenomena compared to the usual one in a ‘money’ market.

This article also tries to to offer a different perspective by looking language as practices rather than as a system of sounds –language as a system. This reality of Puor and Lamalera people shows that language categorization is difficult to be identified absolutely, since linguistic repertoire of the individual will change as well as that language is being practiced. Ethnography of communication approach helps writers to see lasting patterns and functions in language practices.

Keywords: diglosia, ethnography communication, frame of reference, language practices, linguistic anthropology, linguistic boundaries, pointing gesture, verbal act.