Yale University Department of Anthropology

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    Yale Universityhttp://www.yale.edu

J. Joseph Errington

Professor of Anthropology

Ph.D. University of Chicago, 1981


Office address:
10 Sachem Street, Room 314
Tel: (203) 432-3672
Fax: (203) 432-3669


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Patterns of social and language change can help us understand how language as a species-wide attribute, the body of thought, and in the fabric of experience. A gradual shift from formal linguistics to anthropology, and phenomenology to social practice, has helped me frame these issues through my studies of Javanese (90 million speakers) and Indonesian (270 million speakers).

My first research in Central Java, focused on Javanese linguistic etiquette is presented in Language and Social Change in Central Java (1985), on shifting understandings of class and language in a postcolonial urban environment, and Structure and Style in Javanese (1988) a semiotic account of the change in the Javanese speech style system. Two shorter stints of research (1986, 1988) led to an account of rapid growth in and spread of national language identities in Java (Shifting Languages: Interaction and Identity in Javanese Indonesia, 1998).

Currently I am interested in questions of linguistic ideology and practice: the social consequences and naturalizing force of speakers’ partial awareness of the ways they and others speak. My work in this very broad field has been centered on the development of linguistic science during the colonial era, which I survey in a review article (Colonial Linguistics) and a book in progress.

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