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I. Orientation
The title of this book is variations and Functional Varieties of Language written
by Prof. Amrin Saragih , Phd, MA, DTEFL. This book can be used for the
study of functional language varieties or studies with the specific purpose
of analyzing the content and context of the discourse. As for the topic we
are discussing is an element of social context and its realization.

II. Interpretative Recount

Social Context
Language and Society are closely related, there is no language without
society and there is no society without language. So, language is forms in
the society. They are inter-deterministic or interdependent in the sense that
they are mutually inducted or affected; this is to say that at one time the
society or social context determines or depend on language and at another
time in its turn language determines or depends on the society or social
Elements of Social Context
In the perspective of Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) the social
context is constituted by three elements they are;
1. Ideology ; is considered as the abstract factor, the nearest element to
language which is directly related to language -
2. Situation ; is considered as the concrete factor and the element
which is in between the two factors-
3. Culture; is considered as the moderate factor of social context.
In other word, Language induces Social Perceptions. This is to say that
once the social context has determined and shaped language, the
realization become the property of society. Consequently, speakers of
language use language as a means or guide to perceive and interpret the
realities either natural or social realities. Metaphorically language is
regarded as a pair of glass through which the speakers perceive the world.
If one is wearing a yellow-color glass s/he wears a black glass s/he will
see the scenery in black or dark color. It can also be metaphorically said
that language is a prison of thought. If one speaks in English, s/he will be
looking into the world through the ‘glass’ of English Language. Similarly
one who speaks in BI will perceive the world through the ‘glass’ of BI.
Meanings deeply underlying the Lexicogrammatical system of English are
the Notions of time, number and person. The underlying meanings of time,
number and person are respectively realized in the Lexicogrammatical of
English as tense, singular/plural and concord or agreement between the
subject of the sentence and the verb. Thus if one speak in English, s/he will
be constrained, ‘imprisoned’ or ‘jailed’ by the three notions. No one can
speak English grammatically accurate or correct if s/he violates the three
underlying meanings. For example, in the clause she has bought a car the
tense is indicate by has+bought (*has buy, *has buys, *has buying, *having
buying, *having buy are all grammatically incorrect), the singular or plural
notion is coded by a car (*car is grammatically incorrect) and the notion of
agreement is realized by she +has (*she have, *she to have, *she having are
all grammatically incorrect).
Linguistics perception has been deeply rooted in the perception of human
beings. Because language ‘imprisons’ or affect the social context
(specifically tenor), language users may avoid expressing words (in foreign
language or second language learning situation). For example, speaker of
the Bahasa Batak declaim to say bujangfor what normally means ‘young
men’ in BI as the word bujangis a taboo word referring to female genital.
Similarly, in a geography class the Karo Batak students avoid saying natu
in the naming Natuna Islands as the word natuin the Karo Batak language
refers to a man genital.
There is no direct relation between the nature and environment where
people live and the language they speak. This is to say that the reality in
the natural setting or in the environment is not directly represented or
realized in language. The relation goes through an intermediary or
intermediate factor between the nature of the environment and language,
namely the society or social context. A reality or natural phenomenon is
realized in language if the reality or the natural phenomenon is motivated
by the society or the social context to be coded in language. It should be
noted that the natural phenomenon is only motivated if it is needed by the
society or it is related to human needs. Thus, the social perception is a very
crucial factor in determining the realization in language. The implication is
that a natural object in the environment will not be automatically realized
in language if the object has no relation to the needs or aspirations of the
society or the social needs.
In other words, natural and environmental phenomena are realized in
language if the phenomena are related to culture of the speakers. For
example, in English there is no word for what is called terasin BI although
the natural object or thing is available in Britain, USA or Australia and
clearly seen by the people. The word terasrefers to the hardest wood in the
inner part of the tree. Indonesian are used to building house from wood
and bamboos. Thus the hardest part of a palm tree is needed for the main
poles of the houses. The speaker of English do not need the terasin their
life and it not socially perceived and therefore it is not realize in English.
By the same analogy speakers of Simalungun, which is a sub-ethnic groups
of the Bataks perceived a natural phenomenon as galunggung, which is a
piece of land or field left uncultivated to let grasses and bushes grow for a
certain period of time in order to regain the land fertility after having been
grown for a long period of time. Language or dialects of other sub-ethnic
groups of the Batak such as the Toba, Karo, Angkola/Mandailing and
Pakpak Dairi do not lexicalize the natural reality.
Further the same reality or natural phenomenon maybe differently
perceived by speakers of two different languages or dialects. To exemplify,
the Malays in eastern parts of Sumatera call a species of bird as tempuaand
the Javanese name the bird as manyar.The Malays have deeper or even
philosophical perception on the tempuaas they have proverb saying kalua
tidakadaberada, tidaktempuabersarangrendah ‘there must be reason if
tempuras live in low nets’. The proverb indicates a philosophical view
which implies that if a person suddenly turs up to be kind of generous to
you, you should be alert that s/he must have a certain hidden (usually
bad) plot, plan or intention. In the natural setting the tempuasalways build
their nets high above the ground.
Normally the bird builds their nets at the tops of tall tree such as the
coconut, palm, teak or juhar trees which are approximately 40 meters
above the ground. However , once in a while the tempuasmay build their
nets in bush, is approximately 1.5 meters above the ground. Predator often
try to intrude their nets to prey on their young babies or eggs. However,
their attempt or rarely successful because the intruders will be met with by
poisonous dragon wasps, bees or snakes. The tempuaswill be low nets
only and only if the bumpers such as the poisonous bees, snake or other
wild animals are around. Thus, the tempuasare very wise birds. The
Javanese perception is not as deep as the Malay’s. In other words, the
Javanese just view the manyarphysically as very skillful birds at building
their beautiful nets and very good singing birds.
Language is a social phenomenon. The implication is that language is a
resource for doing things or making meanings to others rather than for
thinking for or about one self. In other words, language is an inter-
organism rather than intra-organism phenomena. In addition to the
implication is that the society is reflected in language or language is
analogous to the society. As the society is stratified, i.e there are strata in
the society with reference to certain criteria, language is correspondingly
stratified. For example, the society can be stratified in terms of socio-
economic status (SES) as those belonging to the working class, middle class
and higher class. In line with the stratification, language also has
variations, such as the variation belonging to the language of the working
class, middle class and higher class people. The variation of language like
this is known as dialect.
The social may also vary in terms of functions done by members of the
society. In other words, members of the society vary with respect to their
activities, i.e what they do in the society. Thus, the society may be
categorized in terms of their profession such as Doctor, Teachers,
Engineers, Lawyers, Farmers, etc. variety of language used by Doctor is
different from that used by farmers. Similarly the variety of language used
in seminars is different from that used in gossips. The variety of language
based on the functions done by members of the society is known as
register, diatypic or functional variety of language.
In contrast to linguistic contexts or contexts, social context refers to
anything outside of written or spoken, which accompanies language or
text in the event of language use or social interaction. Such contexts are
also called external contexts. As explained earlier, this social context is
divided into 3 categories, namely the context of the situation, the cultural
context (genre), and the ideological context. These three social contexts
form strata with the understanding of the strata closest to language more
concrete than strata that are farther away from language. Based on the
strata of closeness to language, the social context is sequentially starting
from the context of the situation, culture and ideology.
The context of the situation consists of what (field) is discussed, who
(tenor) is talking about something discussed, and how (mode) the
conversation is done. In detail the field refers to the role of the language or
topic discussed in social interactions, tenor describes the status (same or
equal, not the same; or different), likes or dislikes (affect), relationships
(normal or first time) or language users (addressers and addressee), and
modes of breaking down the medium or channel of language usage which
can be in the form of oral and written. In some situations there can be one
unclear or unidentified aspect which in such a situation may be called
Cultural context is limited as a gradual social activity to achieve a goal.
With this understanding, the cultural context includes three things (1) the
limitation of the possibility of the three elements of the situation context (2)
the stage that must be passed in a social interaction. Basically every social
interaction has a specific purpose. This goal is often also called the text

III. Prove
The Objectives of this book are to provide students with knowledge of
variations and varieties of language in their context and to apply the
knowledge in analyzing text or discourses in their social context. The
expected outcome is to develop the students’ skills in analyzing text by
which they can well interpret and understand the text or language use.
The book explained about social context is very clear and detail that
suitable with our daily life.

The weakness of this book Based on our RPS there are five elements of
Social context and the references in RPS have match with the book that we
have reviewed, but we couldn’t find the five elements itself, we just found
three elements of social context in this book, namely: Ideology, Culture
and situation.
IV. Evaluative Summation
As we know the creator of RPS and this book that we have reviewed is the
same, but in fact the content in RPS and this book is different, in RPS said
the elements of social context is five but in the book just three elements. So
It’s need to improve the book more complete and clearly.

Variations and Functional Varieties of Language, Prof. Amrin Saragih, MA., Phd.
Mahara Publishing, First Published 2017. Unimed Press.
Bahasa dan Sosial Konteks Prof. Amrin Saragih, MA., Phd. Mahara Publishing,
First Published 2014. Unimed Press.