A Pragmatic Analysis on Vague Language Used in Disaster News Articles on Thejakartapost.com

Jaufillaili Jaufillaili, Riska Nurmalita, Endang Herawan


This paper presents the findings analysis of categories and functions on vague language used in disaster news articles on Thejakartapost.com based on the theory of Channell (1994). In the journalism context, especially in disaster news article, the information often contains vague language that has imprecise statement since it is harmful. Therefore, to avoid wrong statements, the reporters often use vague language in presenting information accurately. The study employed a qualitative descriptive method. All data were 24 news articles. There were 12 news articles of natural disasters and 12 news articles of human-caused disasters. The period was from April 2018 until March 2019. The findings of this study showed that there were three categories of vague language, namely vague additives to numbers that were realized by approximators and adjectives. The others were vagueness of choice of vague words that were realized by nouns, and vagueness by scalar implicatures that were realized by quantifiers, numbers, and exaggerations. In addition, they also have its functions of vague language. Firstly, giving the right amount of information, it is used since the reporters just shared the right number of information although the exact number was not available. Secondly, filling in lexical gaps of uncertainty, it is used since the reporters wanted to cover the imprecise information with another word, and generalized word that was difficult to identify. Last but not least, self-protection. It is used since the reporters wanted to protect and hedge their statements from imprecise information.

Keywords: Vague Language, Categories, News Articles, Disasters, implicature

Full Text:



Bajri, I.A. (2016). Discourse Analysis on Significant Usage of Vague Language in Edward Albee’s The Zoo Story. European Centre for Research and Training and Development UK.

Bakema, M., Constanza, P., Philip M. (2018). Analyzing the Social Lead-Up to a Human-Induced Disaster: The Gas Extraction-Earthquake Nexus in Groningen, The Netherlands. Sustainability.Carter, R & Mcarthy, M. (2006). Cambridge Grammar of English: A Comprehensive Guide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Carter, R & Michael, M. (2006). Cambridge Grammar of English: A Comprehensive Guide. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Creswell, J.W. (2009). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches, (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Channell, J. (1994). Vague Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cutting, J. (2007). Vague Language Explored. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Handayani, Nur Vita. (2015). The Use of Expressive Speech Acts in Hannah Montana Session 1. Register, Vo.8, No.1, 99-112.

Jaufillaili, J., Sujatna, E.T., Indira, D., & Indrayani, L. M. (2017). Vague Languages Implied through Disparagement Functions in Comic Strips. The Southeast Asian Journal of English Language Studies, 23(4), 66-76. doi:10.17576/3l-2017-2304-06

Khalil, H.H. (2017). A Pragmatic Analysis of Vague Language in the News Articles on the Iraqi Security Crisis. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, Vol. 7, No. 5.

Lambert, V.A., & Clinton, E.L. (2012). Qualitative Descriptive Research: An Acceptable Design. Pacific Rim International Journal of Nursing Research, 16 (4), 255-256.

Miles, M.B., A. Michael, H., Johnny, S. (2014). Qualitative Data Analysis, A Methods Sourcebook, Edition 3. USA: Sage Publication.

Newman, N., Richard, F., Antonis, K., David, A.L.L., Rasmus, K.N. (2017). Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2017. Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Unversity of Oxford.

Ozturk Tasci, F. & Oguz Unver, A. (2017). Broad-Based Participatory Inquiry into the Definition and Scope of Disaster. Journal of Education in Science, Environment and Health (JESEH), 3(2), 165-182.

Pan, W. (2012). An Analysis of Vagueness in English News from Grice’s Cooperative Principles. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, Vol. 2, No. 12.

Pinar, A. (2017). What is Secondary School Students’ Awareness on Disaster? A Case Study. Review of International Geographical Education Online (RIGEO), 7 (3), 315-331.

The Jakarta Post Staff. (2019). The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://thejakartapost.com.

Urbanova, L. (1999). On Vagueness in Authentic English Conversation. Brno Studies in English 25.

Van Deemter, K. (2010). Not Exactly : In Praise of Vagueness. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wahyuningsih, W. (2014). Vague Languages used in CNN.com. Sarjana Sastra (SS) Thesis, Dian Nuswantoro University, Indonesia.

Yule, G. (1996). Pragmatics. Oxford University Pers.

Zhang, G.Q (2011). Elasticity of Vague Language. Intercultural Pragmatics, 8-4.

Zhang, G.Q (2013). The Impact of Touchy Topics on Vague Language Use. Journal of Asian Pacific Communication 23:1

Data Source References:

Agence France-Presse. (2018, April 2). At least Four Dead as Cyclone Josie Hits Fiji. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/02/at-least-four-dead-as-cyclone-josie-hits-fiji.html.

Agence France-Presse. (2018, May 22). Five Dead in India from Nipah Virus, Dozens Quarantined. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/22/five-dead-in-india-from-nipah-virus-dozens-quarantined.html.

Agence France-Presse. (2018, July 29). Powerful Storm Hits Disaster-ravaged Japan. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/29/powerful-storm-hits-disaster-ravaged-japan.html.

Agence France-Presse. (2018, July 11). 14 Dead in South Syria Suicide Car Bomb Claimed by IS. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/07/11/14-dead-in-south-syria-suicide-car-bomb-claimed-by-is.html.

Agence France-Presse. (2018, November 5). Total Disaster' as Italy Storms Kill at least 30. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/05/total-disaster-as-italy-storms-kill-at-least-30.html.

Aqil, A.M.I. (2019, February 20). Explosion at Mall Injures 6 people, Damages 40 Food Counters. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/02/20/explosion-at-mall-injures-6-people-damages-40-food-counters.html.

Arbi, I.A. (2018, June 26). Fire Engulfs Densely Populated Area in Central Jakarta. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/26/fire-engulfs-densely-populated-area-in-scentral-jakarta.html.

Hussein, S. (2018, June 18). Two Dead As Strong Quake Shakes Japan's Osaka. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/06/18/two-dead-as-strong-quake-shakes-japans-osaka.html.

News Desk, Agence France-Presse. (2018, April 8). New Strikes Pound Syria's Ghouta after Alleged Gas Attack. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/04/08/new-strikes-pound-syrias-ghouta-after-alleged-gas-attack.html.

News Desk, Agence France-Presse. (2018, May 25). At least 7 Dead in Benghazi Attack: Security Source. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/05/25/at-least-7-dead-in-benghazi-attack-security-source.html.

News Desk, Agence France-Presse. (2018, August 20). Multiple Quakes Rock Indonesia's Lombok Island, 10 dead. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/08/20/multiple-quakes-rock-indonesias-lombok-island-two-dead.html.

News Desk, Agence France-Presse. (2018, August 31). Conflicts may have Killed 5 Million Children in Africa: Study. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/08/31/conflicts-may-have-killed-5-million--children-in-africa-study.html.

News Desk, Agence France-Presse. (2018, September 20). 3 Dead, 10 Homes Buried in Philippine Monsoon Landslide. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/09/20/3-dead-10-homes-buried-in-philippine-monsoon-landslide.html.

News Desk, Agence France-Presse. (2018, October 26). Jordan Flood Death Toll Rises to 20, most of Them School Pupils. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/26/jordan-flood-death-toll-rises-to-20-most-of-them-school-pupils.html.

News Desk, Agence France-Presse. (2018, November 12). US Fighter Jet Crashes Off Japan's Okinawa. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/11/12/us-fighter-jet-crashes-off-japans-okinawa.html.

News Desk, Agence France-Presse. (2018, December 24). Thousands Evacuated After 'Loud Crack' in Sydney Tower. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/24/thousands-evacuated-after-loud-crack-in-sydney-tower.html.

News Desk, The Jakarta Post. (2019, January 22). Tornado Destroys Kiosks, Topples Poles in Bekasi. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/01/22/tornado-destroys-kiosks-topples-poles-in-bekasi.html.

News Desk, Agence France-Presse. (2019, January 8). One Dead in Oil Tanker Blaze Off Hong Kong. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/01/08/one-dead-in-oil-tanker-blaze-off-hong-kong.html.

News Desk, Agence France-Presse. (2019, February 8). Hundreds of Thousands' of Cattle Feared Dead after Australia Floods. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/02/08/hundreds-of-thousands-of-cattle-feared-dead-after-australia-floods.html.

News Desk, The Jakarta Post. (2019, March 11). Fishing Vessel Catches Fire in Muara Angke. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/03/11/fishing-vessel-catches-fire-in-muara angke.html.

Nugraha, P & Kharishar, K. (2019, March 17). Malaysian Tourist among Killed in Earthquake-triggered Landslide on Lombok. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2019/03/17/tourists-killed-injured-by-earthquake-triggered-landslide-on-lombok.html.

Pearl, H. (2018, December 24). 'Everything's gone: Indonesian Villagers Recount Tsunami Horror. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/24/everythings-gone-indonesian-villagers-recount-tsunami-horror.html.

Rahman, R. (2018, October 29). Dozens Gather in Lion Air Crash Crisis Center to Report on Family Members. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/10/29/dozens-gather-in-lion-air-crash-crisis-center-to-report-on-family-members.html.

Sufa, T. (2018, September 12). House Fire Kills Three Children in Bogor. The Jakarta Post. Retrieved from https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/09/12/house-fire-kills-three-children-in-bogor.html.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.18326/rgt.v14i2.185-202


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2021 Jaufillaili Jaufillaili, Riska Nurmalita, Endang Herawan

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

In the aim of improving the quality of the Journal since 19th October 2016 this journal officially had made cooperation with ELITE Association Indonesia (The association of Teachers of English Linguistics, Literature & Education). See The MoU Manuscript.