LINGUIST List 13.1697

Fri Jun 14 2002

Diss: Socioling: Goebel "Communicative competence..."

Editor for this issue: Marie Klopfenstein <>


  1. ZANENENI1, Socioling: Goebel "Communicative competence in Indonesian: Language Choice in..."

Message 1: Socioling: Goebel "Communicative competence in Indonesian: Language Choice in..."

Date: Thu, 13 Jun 2002 20:00:19 +0000
From: ZANENENI1 <>
Subject: Socioling: Goebel "Communicative competence in Indonesian: Language Choice in..."

New Dissertation Abstract

Institution: Northern Territory University, Darwin, Australia
Program: Education
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2001
Author: Zane Matthew Goebel 
Dissertation Title: 
Communicative competence in Indonesian: Language Choice in Inter-ethnic Interactions in Semarang

Dissertation URL:

Linguistic Field: 
Sociolinguistics, Discourse Analysis, Applied Linguistics, Anthropological Linguistics

Subject Language: 

Dissertation Director 1: Paul Black

Dissertation Abstract: 
The main aim of this research is to examine inter-ethnic interactions that occurred 
in two neighborhoods (RT) in Semarang, Indonesia, in order to explore how code 
choice and the use of prosody figured in these speaker's communicative competence. 
The motivation for doing this study was to provide some input into what appeared to 
be sociolinguistically uninformed debates about the teaching of variety in 
Indonesian language programs. 

This research utilized a number of theoretical approaches and methods to the study 
of language, most notably Hymes' (1972, 1974) 'Ethnography of Communication', 
Gumperz's (1982) and associates 'Interactional Sociolinguistics', and 
Myers-Scotton's (1993) 'Markedness' approach to code choice. Essentially this meant 
using these approaches to demonstrate how contextualization cues like code choice 
and prosody (i.e silence, intonation, pitch, tempo) were used in real-time 
interaction to signal intent and to interpret meaning, while also demonstrating 
how these contextualization cues related to the wider speech community's daily 
social life. 

The most significant finding was that ngoko Javanese was being used to signal 
relative familiarity in inter-ethnic interactions, as among the Javanese alone. 
Non-standard Indonesian was generally used in inter-ethnic interactions to signal 
more distant relationships, while kromo Javanese was used to signal this among the 
Javanese themselves. In inter-ethnic interactions the use of prosodic features such 
as silence tended to match the use of code for indicating degrees of familiarity 
(i.e. latching and overlap used among familiars and pauses among unfamiliars) and 
it was found that inter-turn silence were generally symmetrical. This was found 
to be related to the general lack of instances of miscommunication, as was the 
finding that speakers tended to accomodate toward their partner's use of silence. 

Accordingly, it is argued that part of being a communicatively competent 
Indonesian means being able to choose a code to indicate whether one is 
friendly or distant toward one's interlocutor and having the ability to 
accommodate towards the code choice and prosodic patterns of one's 
conversational partner. The implications of this for Indonesian language 
programs might best be put by replacing questions like "Which variety of 
Indonesian should we teach?" with a question like "What are the parameters 
of social meaning that the use of one code instead of another will have?" 

Gumperz, John. J. 1982, Discourse Strategies, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 

Hymes, Dell 1972, 'Models of the interaction of language and social life', 
in Directions in Sociolinguistics: The Ethnography of Communication, 
eds John. J. Gumperz & Dell Hymes, Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, New York, pp. 35-71. 

Hymes, Dell 1974, Foundations in Sociolinguistics: An Ethnographic Approach, 
University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia. 

Myers - Scotton, Carol 1993a, Social Motivations for Codeswitching: 
Evidence from Africa, Oxford University Press, New York.
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