Speaking Through the Silence Narratives, Social Conventions, and Power in Java


Laine Berman shows how working-class Javanese women use conversation to construct identity and meaning within the rigid constraints of an hierarchical social order. She does so by uncovering the structures and functions of conversational narratives uttered within natural social networks. In particular, she focuses on identifying the silences, the "unsaid", and reveals both the structure and function of silence in terms of its reference to local meaning. The force of the Javanese language as used in everyday interactions is shown to be an extremely potent philosophical entity as well as a means of social control. Thus, this book will contribute to our understanding of the social consequences of language use, to the linguistic knowledge of Indonesia and Java, and to such basic linguistic issues as narrative structure and function, speech levels and styles, and indexicality features.

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