SOAS Research Online

A Free Database of the Latest Research by SOAS Academics and PhD Students

[skip to content]

Hobart, Mark (2015) 'Beyond the Whorfs of Dover: A Study of Balinese Interpretive Practices.' Heidelberg Ethnology (1). pp. 1-20.

Text - Published Version
Download (752kB) | Preview


Scholars generally assume that current Euro-American theory is both necessary and sufficient to understand other societies. Analyzing the presuppositions of linguistic and anthropological models indicates however that they are fatally flawed. Examining Balinese practices of speaking and understanding others shows they work with a consistently pragmatic approach with coherent modes of interrogating situated utterances. Close study of examples highlights how far existing theories from truth-conditional semantics to speech act theory not only fail to appreciate what is said and done, but insulate themselves from realizing this. So the many studies of Balinese ‘symbolism’ are only possible by failing to listen to what people say. According to Balinese, speech is inseparable from other acts, so meaning can only be judged from its consequences. If other people have diverse ways of speaking, acting and understanding, should we not finally lay aside our comfortable hegemony and inquire critically what is going on?

Item Type: Journal Article
SOAS Departments & Centres: Legacy Departments > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Department of Anthropology and Sociology
ISSN: 23643730
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 21 Aug 2017 12:58

Altmetric Data


Download activity - last 12 monthsShow export options
Downloads since deposit
6 month trend
6 month trend
Accesses by country - last 12 monthsShow export options
Accesses by referrer - last 12 monthsShow export options

Repository staff only

Edit Item Edit Item