Speech, like dress, can have different styles depending on the situation. Style itself refers to the selection of linguistic forms to convey social or artistic effects. It forms a communication system in its own right, one that determines how a social interaction will proceed, or if it will proceed at all. If it is to continue, style tells how, whether formally or informally. It may also tell listeners how to take what is being said: seriously, ironically, humorously, or in some other way.

Style uses all the resources of language: tone of voice, different ways of pronouncing sounds, even choice of words and grammar themselves. When the style of an utterance contradicts the meaning of the words and grammar, the style is often believed. This is because style tells us how to interpret a message. The followings are
some samples –taken from my personal experiences and the people in my
surroundings’— of style vs. words, choice of words, and tone of voice.

A. Style vs. words

1. I always find difficulties of getting up in the morning especially in this fasting month. One morning, when it’s only 15 more minutes left before “Imsak”, I was still on my bed, very hesitate to get up. Then, my mother came to my room, and said, “Terusno turumu nak, enak-enakno, sek esuk kok.” What happened next was that I got off my bed with my eyes still closed.

2. One day, my sister and I went to our auntie’s. we were there for along time until there was a call from my mother. She said, “Wis nak, ojok moleh, nginepo kono ae mesisan.”
3. When we came to somebody’s house as a guest, we sometimes said, “Gak usah ngombe wis, gak perlu repot-repot.” Still, the host or the hostess would give us something to drink. I myself preferred trusting in words, so when I was asked not to make drinks, I wouldn’t, though the style showed the opposite.

B. Tone of voice

1. A very old friend of mine called me one day. I was happy and surprised to receive the call because it’s been a long time. so I said to him, “Hey, yok opo kabare, rek?”
enthusiastically. After a few days, he called me again very early in the morning. I was thinking that there’s something wrong and I asked him, “Onok opo?” with a rising tone.
Apparently, he wanted to tell me that our friend’s mother was dead. In the other day, he called me when I was trying hard to sleep, which made me in a bad mood. After I knew that it was he who called, I just said flatly, “Oh yo, onok opo?. After that call, he never called me anymore. It is very probable that he felt offensed by my very lazy
2. Many people made phone calls to my house the day my uncle died. I was the only person in the house, so I had to receive all the calls, which asked the same things, whether my uncle was really dead, and when he would be buried. Then, there’s one call asking similar information, “Pak H. Faroid meninggal ya?” I answered in usual tone, “Ya, betul.” Then he said, “Kapan dimakamkannya? Ini dari Ustadz Ali.” Apparently, the caller was a very respectable person in my hometown. Thus, I changed my voice tone and my style of speech also changed drastically. I tried to be as polite as possible when speaking and I even nodded my head during my speech to show my respect, though he wouldn’t see my action.
3. One day, my friends and I met our lecturer who’s got his hand injured. Then another friend passed by and just said to him, “what’s the matter with you?” The
message seemed to be the same as the words “What’s got into you, do you have a
problem with me?” Of course, this was not what she intended to say, however, her tone, and perhaps, her choice of words made her speech sound like that. Fortunately, my lecturer seemed not to feel anything and just made a big smile.

4. Before the Extensive Reading class, some of us had a chat together outside. Then one of us asked the other one, “Hei, koen kate public presentation opo private?” she answered, “Sak karepku tah.” The tone told us that she said that as humour, so we laughed at that time. However, when she asked a question, we felt that we had a chance to take revenge, so we responded the same way as she did before, and we laughed together.

C. Choice of words

1. One day, I got on a “mikrolet”, and when trying to find a seat, I stepped on somebody’s feet. I spontaneously yelled, “Eh, sorry, sorry Pak!” I was right that he was a man, but he was already old. I realized that I had just used the wrong choice of word, and he justified my thought by looking at me unpleasantly.

2. My father got a letter one day, from a store in Malang saying that he could get an interesting prize without having to buy anything before. It’s due to the store’s anniversary or something, I forget what it was. Since we often got such kinds of letters, I tried to call the store first. I asked whether the content of the letter was
true or not. I also mentioned the name of the event in English as written in the envelope. Actually, there’s also the Indonesian version, but I meant to say it in English to make me sound more sophisticated. It seemed that it worked, since the receiver then gave a long explanation of the procedure and the conditions to get the prizes, which make me and my father more convinced of not going to the store.

3. When I was gathering with my family, somebody knocked at my door. My mother, who’s apparently totally convinced that it was my father, said, “Opo ae Pak, katek tok tok barang, wong nggowo kunci ngono.” There’s no answer, but then we heard an unfamiliar voice saying, “Assalamu’alaikum.”, which was surely not my father’s. My mother and my sisters suddenly ran away leaving me alone in the living room. I opened the door and there was a face of a stranger in front of me. Obviously, my mother had used wrong choice of words, though not intentionally.
4. I often greet my friends using different words based on the degree of the friendship. I greet some of them by calling their names. That is usual. When I met some others, I may say, “Lapo koen?” Still to some others, I greet them by saying,
Hei, tuyul dan mbak yul, nang endi?”.

So it is clear that style can indicate many things through its features. By using different tone and different words, we can show our moods, our feelings, our social status and educational level, etc, to our conversational partners. We can also reveal our consideration about someone, whether or not we consider him/her our close person, and what kind of interaction we want to have with him/ her. Style can suggest what’s really inside us despite the words we use to cover it. So, be careful, if you want to lie, make sure that your style of speech will not disclose it.