MacArthur Fellows Program

MacArthur Fellows / Meet the Class of 1998

Elinor R. Ochs

Linguistic Anthropologist

Los Angeles, California

Age: 54 at time of award

Published July 1, 1998

Elinor Ochs is a scholar in linguistic anthropology whose work has made significant contributions to linguistics, sociocultural anthropology, and psychology.

Ochs is a founder of the field of language socialization--the study of the way children acquire language and are shaped by the culture around them. She has played a major role in bringing the study of emotion, as it is constructed in and through language, to the center of linguistic anthropology. Her early work on women’s language usage in Malagasay, her monograph on childhood in Samoa, and her essays on socialization are mainstays in the literature on linguistic anthropology. Her efforts are revitalizing the field of applied linguistics, using more sophisticated social science techniques to study how language is used. Ochs is the author of Culture and Language Development: Language Acquisition and Language Socialization in a Samoan Village (1988) and co-author of Acquisition of Conversational Competence (1983), Constructing Panic (1995), and Living Narrative: Creating Lives in Everyday Storytelling (2001).

Ochs is a Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she also serves as director of the Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families.

Ochs received a B.A. (1966) from George Washington University and a Ph.D. (1974) from the University of Pennsylvania.

Last updated January 1, 2005