Voices of Modernity

Language Ideologies and the Politics of Inequality

Voices of Modernity

This study asserts that conscious development of new ways of thinking about language had a crucial role in modern history, particularly the discovery of how differences between languages legitimated social inequalities. It claims that savages and ancients were judged alike because they used language similarly, in contrast to modern Europeans who used disciplined language in scientific, philosophical and legal projects.


"...an extremely useful guide to the intellectual history of the modern era"-Canadian Journal of Sociology Online

"...A unique and singular book. Richard Bauman and Charles Briggs have crafted a wide-ranging and far-reaching work based on years of meticulous research that should be read closely be anyone with an interest in the emergence of "the folk," "folklore," and "folkloristics" in modernizing Europe...It has a prominent place in my library, is it should in anyone's." -David Samuels, University of Massachusetts, Amherst: Journal of American Folklore

'Bauman and Briggs have written the most fundamental, significant work ever for linguistic anthropologists and probably for all anthropologists with the slightest concern with reflexivity and practice.' Journal of Linguistic Anthropology


Winner of the Sapir Book Prize awarded by the Society for Linguistic Anthropology who cited the authors' success in 'investigating the role of ideologies of language in the shaping of modernity'. In doing so, 'the book brings linguistic anthropology to the forefront of contemporary debates in the hu