Journal of
Languages and Culture

  • Abbreviation: J. Lang. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6540
  • DOI: 10.5897/JLC
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 122

Full Length Research Paper

Verbal semiotics resources employed in advertising cigarette on TV in Indonesia

Bambang Nur Alamsyah Lubis
  • Bambang Nur Alamsyah Lubis
  • English Applied Linguistics Program, State University of Medan, Indonesia.
  • Google Scholar
Busmin Gurning
  • Busmin Gurning
  • English Applied Linguistics Program, State University of Medan, Indonesia.
  • Google Scholar
Amrin Saragih
  • Amrin Saragih
  • English Applied Linguistics Program, State University of Medan, Indonesia.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 10 December 2018
  •  Accepted: 10 April 2019
  •  Published: 30 April 2019


This work analyzes the verbal semiotics resources used for advertising cigarette in Indonesia. Descriptive qualitative method was used in this study. The data of this study are verbal semiotics resources (oral and written) used for cigarette advertisement. From the result of this work, it is seen that in ideational function, material process was dominantly used in advertising cigarette on TV, and in interpersonal function, speech function was dominantly used in advertising cigarette on TV.


Key words: Verbal, semiotics, cigarette, advertisement, ideational, interpersonal, Indonesia.


The basic theory used in investigating the content of a text can be seen in Systemic functional linguistics (SFL) (Halliday, 2014). It is actually used to see perspective content of the language of the text. Metafunction and multimodal analysis in a text advertisement presents two things; first, is the natural representation of empirical, factual and particular advert and secondly,  the proper way it is used to understand or read such natural print adverts.
According to Halliday (2014), verbal interaction with another person is preferred to the network of meaning (collection of semiotic alternatives) which is realized through representation. It is known as system of choices. All the important principles are contained in the means-channel through which language is used by the user. Language is organized to meet people's desires. It focuses on the role of individual interactions. We can say that language exists because we change constantly based on desire and need when interacting. The  function and meaning of SFL approach in communication sees meaning as a relationship among ideational, interpersonal and textual function in verbal and written language. Based on multimodal perspective, this approach is involved in the relationship of the three meanings in which each means/channel of meaning used produces the complexity of meaning.
Saragih (2006) says that the text uses a language that is sourced from oral and written means of any size, which constitutes the whole unit, units of language use, ungrammatical units such as clauses and sentences and not defined according to its size. It has a unity or texture that distinguishes it from non-texts and involves semantic relationship referred to as cohesive and coherence in the meaning it expresses. Semantic does not only source from the content but the overall choice of language used. The text is limited to its functional meaning in the social affirming context that the text can be a text, a paragraph, a  complex  clause,  a  clause,  a  phrase,  a  group,  or  a sound. In addition, the texts studied under the SFL approach emphasize meaning. This confirms that no matter how small a unit of language is as long as the language unit has a meaning in the social context it is still called a text. Text is a unit of language. it has meaning in the social context that occurs due to interaction/communication. All these communication interactions are called multimodal (Sinar, 2012).
The ideational function or ideational meaning relates to the inner and outer worlds of reality. It is “language about something”. According to Halliday (2014), whenever one reflects on the external world of phenomena or the internal world of one’s consciousness, the representation of that reflection would take the form of ‘content’. This form of content is called the experintial meaning. Within the notion of ideational meaning, there is the logical meaning, which stores information about the way in which one situation is related to the other. The interpersonal function is an interpretation of language in its function as an exchange, which is doing the function of language. It is concerned with language as action (Halliday, 2014). The meaning of that statemet represents the speaker’s meaning potential as an intruder that takes into account interactive nature of relations between the addresser (speaker/writer) and the addressee (listener/reader). The grammatical level of interpretation with respect to the clause function is interpreted that the clause is also organised as an interactive event that involves a speaker or a writer and an audience (listener or reader). Clause of interpersonal function is clause of exchange, which represents speech role relationship. Language functions to fulfill human needs in the exchange of experience, such as; Human beings need to exchange experience as humans are social beings, ‘social products’ and consequently cannot live in isolation, no one can completely fulfill one’s needs, everyone needs other people and only human beings are destined with interpersonal function, human culture and civilization, history.
Based on the aforementioned, the objective of this research is to investigate the verbal semiotics resource employed in advertising cigarette in Indonesia. 


This research was conducted by applying qualitative research. Bogdan and Biklen (1992) stated that qualitative research has natural setting, as the direct source of data and the researcher is the key instrument. It was designed to reveal a target audience’s range of behaviors and perceptions that drive it with references to specific topics or issues. There are fifteen cigarette advertisements investigated; U mild cigarette ad, theme: Sepanjang Jalan Kenangan (2017), A mild cigarette ad, theme: Nanti juga lo paham (2017), Sampoerna Hijau cigarette, theme: datang kondangan (2017), Gudang Garam Surya Pro cigarette ad, theme: Fighter Branding (2017), Lucky Strike cigarette ad, theme: seeing things (2017), Djarum 76 ad, theme: Pengen Kurus (2017), LA Light ad, theme: Take A leap (2017), Surya Pro  Mild  ad,  theme:  The  Rush (2017), LA Bold Ad, theme: Stronger Than Life (2017), LA Light ad, theme: Taklukkan Tantanganmu (2017), DUNHILL ad, theme: Make It Your Journey (2017), Gudang Garam Signature ad, theme: Darts (2017), Gudang Garam Merah ad, theme: Kualitas Merah (2017), GG Mild ad, theme: Style of New Generation (2017) and Gudang Garam Signature Mild ad, theme: Big Cameras (2017).
The technique of data analysis used is interactive analysis by Miles et al., (2014). In this research, it was used for the ongoing analysis and after collecting the research data. An analysis model consists of three concurrent steps:
(i) Data condensation is the process of selecting, focusing, simplifying, abstracting and/or transforming the data that appear in the full corpus (body) of written up field notes, interview document, and other empirical material. The processes of selecting data are focusing, simplifying and resuming cigarette advertisement.
(ii) Data display is the process of organizing the data. The researcher needed data to be displayed, because the whole ad content must be looked carefully.
(iii) Drawing and verification conclusion were done through deciding what the data mean or finding after reading the result from resuming.


Ideational function
The analysis of ideational function is meant to show the purpose of advertisement in society and to see the effect of verbal text. The total number of verbal semiotics resources used in fifteen cigarette advertisement is 111 clauses. Table 1 explains that the dominat type of process used in the cigarette advertisement is material process, 47 clauses (52.17%). It means that cigarette advertisement demands consumers to act. Here, it shows the percentage of metafunction analysis used in cigarette advert.
Interpersonal function
The analysis of interpesonal function is meant to show the kinds of speech function used in advertising cigarette. There are four speech functions that humans use in verbal communication: offer, statement, command and question (Halliday, 2004). Table 2 explains that the dominant speech function used in advertising cigarette on TV in Indonesia is statement, 98 clauses (85.57%). To advertise cigarette means to give information about the product.  Here, it shows the kinds of sentence used in cigarette advertisement (offer, statement, command, question). Table 2 shows the analysis of metafunction used in cigarette advertisements.


The finding of this research adds a new horizon to those interested in multimodal and critical discourse analysis study,   especially  in  investigating  advertisement.  Many  researchers have analyzed clauses from text. In this case, the researcher found a new model of analysis that still uses SFL as basic analysis. The researcher chose cigarette advertisement because it is always done on TV especially in Indonesia. This work has many weaknesses; hence in future it is recommended that more work should be done on the model of analysis in this field.


Indonesia is one of the biggest cigarette consumers in the world. Hence, the researcher investigated the verbal semiotics resources used in advertising cigarette on TV in Indonesia. From the result of the study, it is seen that material process is the dominant verbal semiotics resource used in advertising cigarette on TV. It aims to invite consumers that watch TV to act, that is, to buy the product and smoke it. And, speech function is used also for the advert on TV, to talk about the product in terms of its quality and quantity.


The authors have not declared any conflict of interests.


Bogdan RC, Biklen SK (1992). Qualitative Research for Education. USA: Allyn and Bacon.


Halliday MAK (2004). An Introduction to Functional Grammar. Amerika Serikat: Oxford University Press.


Halliday MAK (2014). An Introduction to Functional Grammar. 4th Edition, USA & Canada: Routledge.


Miles MB, Huberman AM, Saldana J (2014). Qualitative Data Analysis: A Method s Source book. 3rd Edition. America: Sage Publication.


Saragih A (2006). Bahasa Dalam Konteks Sosial. Medan. PPs Unimed.


Sinar TS (2012). Teori & Analysis Wacana Pendekatan Linguistik Sistemik Fungsional. Medan: Mitra.