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Penelope Eckert

Penelope Eckert

Affiliated Faculty
Albert Ray Lang Professor and Professor, by courtesy, of Cultural and Social Anthropology
PhD, Columbia University, Linguistics (1978)
MA, Columbia University, Linguistics (1969)
BA, Oberlin College, French (1963)

The goal of my research is to understand the social meaning of linguistic variation. In order to do this, I pursue my sociolinguistic work in the context of in-depth ethnographic fieldwork, focusing on the relation between variation, linguistic style, social identity and social practice. Gender has been the big misunderstood in studies of sociolinguistic variation - in spite of the fact that some of the most exciting intellectual developments over the past decades have been in theories of gender and sexuality ... so I have been spending a good deal of time working on language and gender as well.Since adolescents and preadolescents are the movers and shakers in linguistic change, I concentrate on this age group, and much of my research takes place in schools. The institutional research site has made me think a good deal about learning and education, but particularly about the construction of adolescence in American society.