Susan Gal

Susan Gal

Mae & Sidney G. Metzl Distinguished Service Professor Departments of Anthropology, Linguistics, and Humanities Collegiate Division
Haskell 237
(773) 702-2551

Susan Gal has taught at the University of Chicago since 1994 and chaired the Department of Anthropology between 1999-2002. Her research interests center on language, politics and gender in Eastern Europe; she has conducted ethnographic field research in Austria and Hungary, including both urban and rural settings.

Her first book, Language Shift: Social Determinants of Linguistic Change in Bilingual Austria (Academic: 1979), examined the situation of a Hungarian minority in Austria and continues to be excerpted in standard textbooks of the field. Since then she has published widely on language ideology, linguistic variation, language change, multilingualism and its political economic sources and consequences, on political rhetoric and on the history of European linguistics. More recently she has co-authored (with Gail Kligman) a comparative and historical work entitled The Politics of Gender After Socialism (Princeton: 2000) that won the Heldt Prize of the AAASS. It has been translated into Romanian; various chapters have appeared in German, French, Hungarian and Russian.

In 2001, Gal co-edited, with Kathryn Woolard, Languages and Publics: The Making of Authority (St. Jerome's Press, Manchester), that presents semiotic and linguistic approaches to understanding public communication. A selected list of her recent journal articles includes: "Contradictions of standard language in Europe: Implications for the study of publics and practices," Social Anthropology 14:2:163-181 (2006), "A semiotics of the public/private distinction," Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 13:1:77-95 (2002), "Bartòk's funeral: Representations of Europe in Hungarian political rhetoric," American Ethnologist 18:3:440‑458 (1991).

Gal was the recipient of a Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in 2002, as well as an SSRC-ACLS International Fellowship. She has also received Fulbright, ACLS and NIMH Fellowships. Gal is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is currently engaged in a project on mass media and communication in the communist and postcommunist periods in the east of Europe, and another book, nearing completion, on the nature of linguistic and social differentiation.

Recent Publications 
  • 2016: Sociolinguistic differentiation. IN N. Coupland (ed.) Sociolinguistics: Theoretical Debates. Cambridge University Press: New York.
  • 2015: Imperial linguistics and polyglot nationalism in Austria-Hungary: Hunfalvy, Gumplowicz, Schuchardt. Balkanistica 28: 151-174.
  • 2015: Politics of translation. Annual Review of Anthropology. November #44:225-240.
  • 2014: John Gumperz’s Discourse Strategies, Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 23:1:115-126.
  • 2013: Tastes of Talk: Qualia and the Moral Flavor of Signs. Anthropological Theory 31:31-48.
  • 2008: Language and political space. IN Peter Auer and Jurgen Erich Schmidt (eds.) Language and Space Mouton deGruyter.
  • 2006: Contradictions of standard language in Europe: Implications for the study of publics and practices. Social Anthropology 14:2:163-181.
  • 2006: Minorities, migration and multilingualism: Language ideologies in Europe. IN P. Stevenson and Mar-Molinaro (eds). Language Ideologies, Practices and Polices: Language and the Future of Europe. London: Palgrave.
  • 2006: Multilingualism. IN Peter Stockwell and Carmen Llamas (eds) Routledge Companion to Sociolinguistics. Routledge: New York.
  • 2006: Linguistic Anthropology. The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics. Second edition. M Silverstein (section editor), Elsevier Publishers, Oxford.
  • 2005: Language ideologies compared: Metaphors of public and private. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 15:1:23-37.
  • 2000: Language ideology and linguistic differentiation. IN Paul Kroskrity (ed.) Regimes of Language. School for American Research, Santa Fe,New Mexico. (with Judith T. Irvine). Pp. 35-84.
  • 1997: Multiplicity and contestation among linguistic ideologies. IN K. Woolard and B.Schieffelin (eds.) Language Ideologies. Oxford University Press. Pp. 317-332.
  • 1990: Between speech and silence: The problematics of research on language and gender Pragmatics 3:1:1‑38. [reprinted in M. diLeonardo (ed.) Gender at the crossroads of knowledge: Feminist anthropology in the postmodern era U Calif Press. 1991 pp. 175‑203; reprinted in C. Roman, S. Juhasz and C. Miller (eds.) The women and language debate. Rutgers University Press, 1994; reprinted in J. Vincent (ed.) The Anthropology of Politics Blackwell, 2002.]
  • 1989: Lexical innovation and loss: The use and value of restricted Hungarian. IN N. Dorian (ed.) +Language Obsolescence.+Cambridge U Press: New York. [Paperback edition: August 1992]. Pp. 313-334.
  • 1987: Codeswitching and consciousness in the European periphery. American Ethnologist 14:4:637‑653. [translated and reprinted in M. Kontra (ed.)Tanulmànyok a hatàrainkon tùli kètnyelvu nyelvhasznàlatròl [Studies in bilingualism beyond our borders]. Hungarian Academy of Sciences: Budapest.]


  • B.A., Psychology and Anthropology, Barnard College, Columbia University, 1970
  • M.A., Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, 1971
  • PhD, Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, 1976