Language is the main need of all people entire the world. Language is used for communication. Communication is the process in delivering and getting the idea from a person to another person. All of the languages in different countries have the various characteristic. Even in a country, it consist of many languages. For instance, Indonesia as the largest ocean country in the world has many vernaculars. It consists of 746 vernaculars which are divided into different region. A vernacular even consists of more than one dialects. A dialect has its own characteristic differs from the other dialects, eventhough it is in the same vernacular in one region.

Basically, human communicate verbally, but in the high context culture such as Indonesia, communication is successful not only because of its delivery verbally, but also nonverbally. It is different from Indonesia in which consider that nonverbal communication is important in the process of communication from USA that considers nonverbal communication is meaningless. In the low context culture the most important is the success of exchange the fact and information one another. The fact and information are given through the words and meaning that express and speak directly and explicitly. Low context culture considers that the delivery of verbal meaning tends the clarity of delivering the meaning so that it can be understood easily by the other person. However, in the high context culture refers to give attention through gestures, facial expression, voice tone and body language. It claims that communication without nonverbal would make the static and uncolorful world.

Nonverbal communication is very important because research shows that 90% of the meaning of the communication comes from non-verbal communication (Hunsaker cit. Leddy, 1998). When doing communicate in a personal, it is clear that when we talk or communicate face to face, a lot of ideas and thoughts delivered through nonverbal messages. In turn, other people are also more “read” our thoughts through nonverbal cues. According to Birdwhistell, “perhaps no more than 30% to 35% of the social significance of the conversation or interaction be done with words.” The rest is done by nonverbal messages. Mehrabian, author of The Silent Message showed that “the 93% effects of  the message caused by the nonverbal message”. In this context we can understand why the sentences which are not complete in a conversation can still be given meaning.

The focus of the writer here is to discuss more about the comparison and contrast between Sasak (Lombok) and Japanase nonverbal communication. According to Syahdan (1996:13) and Mahyuni (2006:1-2) stated that, Sasak language (base Sasak) is one of the regional or local languages in Indonesia. Sasak (which is manifested in range of regional and social varieties) is spoken primarily by about two million dengan Sasak ‘Sasak speakers’. Traditionally, Sasak has been classified into five dialects negenó-ngené (central west coast and central east to north coast), menó-mené (around Praya, central Lombok), ngetó-ngeté (around Suralaga and Sembalun), kutó-kuté (around Bayan, north part of the island), meriaq-meriku (south central area around Bonjeruk, Sengkol and Pujut).  

Sasak and Japanese culture are two cultures that are both derived from a high context culture. Although those are derived from the same context, the two have some differences. Futhermore, the author would like to discuss more about the comparisons and differences between the two cultures in terms of nonverbal communication such as hand gestures, voice tone, nodding, eye contact, and bowing.

 1.    Hand Gestures

In Sasak culture, when we shake hand with the others, it can be interpreted into different things. Shaking hand tightly means that he is angry, in hatred condition or completely miss the one who is shaking hand with. While in the Japanese culture, shaking hand is using to congratulate, to welcome, and to express gratitude. On the other words, they are also reserved when it comes to physical touching.

The other hand gesture found in Sasak is the using of forefinger to show the direction to an object (thing or human). It is viewed as the unpoliteness. Futhermore, when we are talking with the older, it is better if we point with the thumb, it is viewed as the respect to the older one. While in the Japanese culture, using forefinger to point on something or human viewed as impoliteness. Even when we intend to pointing towards ourself, we touch our nouse to express “me”.

2.    Voice Tone

The accent when we are doing communication sometimes considered in delivering the meaning and the respect from the other person. In Sasak culture, it is common when we are talking or speaking with the high intonation. It is because of the habit in interacting in the farm, the wide rice fields require them to speak with a rather high so that the other person can hear and understand the purpose of spoken. Furthermore, when person talk with high intonation and flushing, it means that he is angry. Comparing with the Japanese culture, there is no deal to speak with high intonation when we are communicating with the other. It is claimed as the rude. Sometimes they will not be respect, even they will ignore when we try ask something with the high intonation.

3.    Nodding

The other nonverbal sign common found in many cultures is nodding. It is also found in Sasak culture. Nodding is used to express an agreement or “yes”. It is common when we give nodding to the others in the same age. However, it is better to use verbal expression to say agreement when we make deal with the older people. Furthermore, it may be used nodding and verbal expression at the same time to express strongly agree. It is different from the Japanese culture, nodding or saying “yes” only means they are listening to what you are saying. They only nod to indicate that they are listening to what you are saying.

4.    Eye contact

Communication is intended to delivering the idea to the hearer. In this process, to ensure that the idea that is expressed is truly delivered to the hearer and the hearer really undersatand to what the encoder says, sometimes it is needed eye contact.

In Sasak culture, it is not the big problem when we are communicating with the other and we use eye contact, but it is a problem when we are talking with the older one. It is viewed as immodesty. In addition, when a man talk to a woman or vice versa, it can’t be used eye contact. The reason is because most of the people in Sasak is moslems. So that’s why we can’t give a look to people in different gender. It is almost the same with Japanese culture that views instant aye contact as the rudeness even an aggressive. They are like bothered when we look into their eyes.

5.    Bowing

Bowing is just found in Asian culture as the respect to the other. In Japanese culture, bowing is usually found in the greeting or leaving.  It is intended to express the gratitude. While in Sasak culture, bowing is usually bundled with lean while carrying a hand when passing others, both fellow of age or older with a person. It is to assert a sense of mutual respect and respect for others.

Nonverbal communication can not be separated from the succesfull when doing communication. It cannot be said that verbal communication are able in accomodating the meaning that the encoder wants to deliver to decoder. It has to consider the decoder perception that he fully understand with the words that the encoder expressed. There are many factors that affect nonverbal communication, each country even each region has the different nonverbal style. It depends on the geographical situation, custom, habit, religion, and language. Basically, communication is how to get people who are involved in it can understand each other and understand the purpose of each other, either in the form of verbal and nonverbal communication.




Reynolds, Sara & Deborah Valentine, Guide to Cross-Cultural Communication. Upper Saddle River, NJ : Prentice Hall, 2004.

Interview on M. Fahrurrozi Azmi – Nonverbal Communication in Sasak Culture– 7 PM on 26th of June, 2012., accessed on 14th of June, 2012, accessed on 14th of June, 2012, accessed on 14th of June, 2012, accessed on 14th of June, 2012, accessed on 14th of June, 2012, accessed on 14th of June, 2012, accessed on 14th of June, 2012, accessed on 14th of June, 2012


  1. kak oci,, sya liat di introductorynya ada kutipan dari pak Mahyuni and pak Syahdan, tapi kok gag ada ya direferencenya ???
    kak oci ngambil dari mana pendapat pak syahdan and pak Mahyuni ???
    cs i need to know about it,, thanks

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