Signs of Deference, Signs of Demeanour: Interlocutor Reference and Self-Other Relations across Southeast Asian Speech Communities

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Forthcoming November 2022

edited by Dwi Noverini Djenar and Jack Sidnell

Terms used by speakers to refer to themselves and their interlocutors form one of the ways that language expresses, defines and creates a field for working out social relations. Because this field of study in sociolinguistics has focused on Indo-European languages, it has tended to dwell on references to the addressee, for example the choice between tu and vous in addressing someone in French. This book theorizes interlocutor reference more broadly, based on the study of Southeast Asian languages, significantly deepening our understanding of the ways in which self-other relations are linguistically mediated in social interaction. There are two basic ways in which the Southeast Asian systems exceed in complexity and nuance the well-described cases of Europe. First, in many languages of Southeast Asia, a speaker must select an appropriate reference form not only for other/addressee but also for self/speaker. Second, in these languages, speakers draw upon, in addition to pronouns, a range of common and proper nouns including names, kin terms, and titles, in referring to themselves and the addressee.

Acts of interlocutor reference inevitably do more than simply identify the speaker and addressee. In addition to reference, they convey information about the proposed relation between interlocutors. At the same time, as research on Javanese in particular has highlighted, these and other choices, are treated as representations of the speaker’s status, sophistication, elegance and so on. Bringing together studies from both small-scale and large, urbanised communities across Mainland and Insular Southeast Asia, this is an important contribution to the regional linguistic and anthropological literature. But in addition, the editors develop a sophisticated framework for reasoning about and analyzing interlocutor reference in any language, in any part of the world. It is an important contribution to sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology.

“These issues are of central importance in social interaction in all human languages. By systematically clarifying such processes for a group of languages, this book provides tools for analyzing social interaction that will interest scholars who study social interaction anywhere in the world.” 
- Prof Hy V. Luong, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Toronto

Dwi Noverini Djenar is Associate Professor of Indonesian Studies at the University of Sydney.

Jack Sidnell is a professor of anthropology at the University of Toronto.
Publication Year: 2022

296pp || 229 x 152 mm
3 figures, 11 b/w images, 1 table
ISBN: 978-981-325-184-7