Notions of Community and Intisari

Reflections on Researching Language Ideologies in Multilingual Eastern Indonesia


  • Jenny Zhang University of California, Berkeley
  • Yanti Yanti Atma Jaya Catholic University


multilingual research methods, language ideologies, translation


This autoethnographic account draws on observations and reflections about the process of conducting research in Nusa Tenggara Timur Province (Indonesia) with a multilingual research team, the negotiations that went into translating and refining the survey and interview protocols, and the substantive discussions that emerged about community and intisari, or essence. The research process reveals that the study of language ideologies brings its own set of methodological tensions, as researchers’ own language ideologies emerged during the translation process.


Author Biographies

Jenny Zhang, University of California, Berkeley

Zhang is a PhD Candidate in Education at the University of California, Berkeley, where her dissertation examines international development programs focusing on early childhood literacy in Indonesia. She holds a BA in Political Science from Princeton University, and dual MA degrees in Education and International and Area Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research interests include the study of language ideologies, language and literacy socialization, comparative education, and international development.

Yanti Yanti, Atma Jaya Catholic University

Yanti is a lecturer at Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia in Jakarta. She is also the Head of the Center for Language and Culture Studies at the university. Yanti completed her PhD at the University of Delaware. Her research interests include Malayic languages, syntax, phonology, morphology, sociolinguistics, as well as language description and documentation.