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Language, Identity, and Marginality in Indonesia

Language, Identity, and Marginality in Indonesia
The Changing Nature of Ritual Speech on the Island of Sumba


Part of Studies in the Social and Cultural Foundations of Language

  • Date Published: September 1998
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521624954

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About the Authors
  • Indonesia's policy since independence has been to foster the national language. In some regions, local languages are still political rallying points, but their significance has diminished, and the rapid spread of Indonesian as the national language of political and religious authority has been described as the 'miracle of the developing world'. Among the Weyewa, on the island of Sumba, this shift has displaced a once vibrant tradition of ritual poetic speech, which until recently was an important source of authority, tradition, and identity. But it has also given rise to new and hybrid forms of poetic expression. This first study to analyse language change in relation to political marginality argues that political coercion or cognitive process of 'style reduction' may partially explain what has happened, but equally important in language shift is the role of linguistic ideologies.

    • Language ideology is a hot topic in linguistic anthropology, and this is the first book-length ethnographic study specifically on it
    • One of the only books to examine the role of language on development, identity politics, nationalism, and marginalization
    • Reveals the crucial role of language in the socioeconomic marginalization of people in developing nations of Southeast Asia
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Neatly orchestrating his analysis with admirable concision and lucidity, Kuipers has composed an insightful study that is thoroughly accessible to any reader interested in the shifting nexus between language and power.' Benjamin G. Zimmer, The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 1998
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521624954
    • length: 204 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 12 mm
    • weight: 0.31kg
    • contains: 19 b/w illus. 3 maps
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Place, identity, and the shifting forms of cultivated speech: a geography of marginality
    2. Towering in rage and cowering in fear: emotion, self, and verbal expression in Sumba
    3. Changing forms of political expression: the role of ideologies of audience completeness
    4. Ideologies of personal naming and language shift
    5. From miracles to classrooms: changing forms of erasure in the learning of ritual speech
    6. Conclusions.

  • Author

    Joel C. Kuipers, George Washington University, Washington DC

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