Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Jakarta Field Station
jozina.vander [at] eva [dot] mpi [dot] de
I primarily work on Javanese, a Western Malayo-Polynesian language of the Austronesian family spoken by over 90 million people in Indonesia. I have been conducting fieldwork in Indonesia yearly since 2010, after having lived there for one year. I am currently living in Semarang, starting a new project on language documentation of the Central Javanese dialect spoken there, and also following up work on an East Javanese dialect spoken in Paciran, a town in the Lamongan region of East Java in Indonesia.
I’m interested in the cross-linguistic articulation of syntax and semantics, especially on TAM (tense-aspect-modal) markers. There is a lot to think about here. Within syntax, I’ve been focusing on how how movement and ellipsis phenomena such as VP-topicalization or VP-ellipsis shed light on the syntax of the extended VP projection. Within semantics, I am interested in establishing the basic semantics of TAM markers within the context of cross-linguistic research, such as how the modal space is carved in terms of possibility and necessity vs. the type of modality.
The importance of language documentation and preservation is another issue that I like to talk about. There are almost 6000 languages in the world, but researchers estimate that around half of these languages are endangered, or nearly extinct (www.ethnologue.org). And besides the multitude of languages, there is an amazing amount of dialects, many of which have never been documented or researched. This is one of the reasons why I like working on Javanese, because only the ‘standard’ variety of Javanese (the dialect of Yogyakarta and Solo) is mainly studied or taught, not the many dialects, which are actually very different. See my page on Javanese for links on this language as well as a current list of linguistic study references.