Jane H. Hill

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For other people named Jane Hill, see Jane Hill (disambiguation).
Jane Hassler Hill
Born (1939-10-27) October 27, 1939 (age 77)
Berkeley, California, U.S.A.
Education B.A., UC Berkeley, 1960; Ph.D, UCLA, 1966.
Occupation Professor
  • Wayne State University (1968–1983)
  • University of Arizona (1983–2009)
Known for
  • Linguistic Anthropology
  • Descriptive Linguistics
  • Uto-Aztecan Languages
Notable work
  • The Everyday Language of White Racism
  • A Grammar of Cupeño
  • Hasta la Vista Baby: Anglo Spanish in the American Southwest
Spouse(s) Kenneth C. Hill
Honours President, American Anthropological Association (1997–1999)

Jane Hassler Hill, born October 27, 1939 in Berkeley, California,[1] is an American anthropologist and linguist who has worked extensively with Native American languages of the Uto-Aztecan language family.

Early Life and Career[edit]

Jane Hill received her B.A. from UC Berkeley in 1960[2] and her Ph.D. from UCLA in 1966 under the direction of Harry Hoijer and William Bright.[1] She worked at Wayne State University in the Department of Anthropology from 1968-1983.[3] Later, she worked at the University of Arizona as Regents' Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics. While at the University of Arizona, Hill received awards from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the American Anthropological Association.[2] From 1997-1999 she served as President of the American Anthropological Association.[2][4] She has published more than 100 articles and chapters, as well as seven books. In 2009 she retired as Regents' Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of Arizona.[2]

Hill's contributions span many subdisciplines of both linguistics and anthropology. Her work in descriptive linguistics, especially focused on languages spoken by American indigenous people, has also made important contributions to discussions of language policy and language endangerment.[2] She has also contributed to the fields of linguistic anthropology and socio-linguistics with her works about mock Spanish and other intersections between language and racial or ethnic identity.[2] Though Hill's intellectual pursuits are diverse, they all embody her self-proclaimed commitment to linguistic and anthropological study that has a real-world impact on people's understanding of languages and the people that speak them.[2]

Native American languages[edit]

Hill's work with indigenous American languages began with her dissertation focused on the Cupeño language[5], a member of the Uto-Aztecan language family spoken in Southern California. Hill conducted fieldwork on Cupeño in 1962 and 1963, but A Grammar of Cupeño was not published until 2005.[5] The grammar uses data from Roscinda Nolasquez, the last living speaker of Cupeño, as well as field notes from other linguists that had previously studied the language.[5] After Cupeño, Hill continued to work on indigenous American languages, especially those in danger of extinction. She has collaborated with Ofelia Zepeda on the Tohono O'odham language and with her husband Kenneth C. Hill on the Nahuatl/Mexicano language (see List of Publications).

In addition to describing the grammar and structure of these languages, Hill also researched their history and sociopolitical context.[2] Initially drawn to these languages by the immediacy of their expected extinction, Hill continued to analyze their structure and use, as well as the ways in which they are understood by those outside their linguistic community.[2] She also raised questions about the way those advocating for endangered languages talk about the languages and people who speak them, and how their rhetoric may "inadvertently undermine [their] goals of advocacy".[6]

Linguistic anthropology and socio-linguistics[edit]

Outside of indigenous languages, Hill's other works often focus on the everyday uses of language in American society. Much of this work has examined the way White Americans use language to subtly retain power and control.[7] Hill's book Language, Race and White Public Space and her article "The Everyday Language of White Racism" discuss how White Americans use racial slurs, linguistic appropriation, and other rhetorical techniques to mark other ethnolinguistic groups as disordered and to imply a standard of whiteness.[7] These works, and others by Hill, investigate how language can be used to obtain social or political capital, often by preventing others from obtaining it.[2]

Hill's seminal contribution to the discussion of language and racism is her analysis of Mock Spanish, where white monolingual English speakers use preset, often grammatically incorrect Spanish phrases.[2] Examples of Mock Spanish include Arnold Schwarzenegger's famous line: "Hasta la vista, baby," which is invoked in the title of Hill's 1993 publication "Hasta la vista baby: Anglo Spanish in the American Southwest". Hill noted the disconnect between this linguistic behavior and the social climate of monolingual language policy and education and anti-immigrant sentiment and concluded that Mock Spanish, though seemingly benign, is used to "index and reproduce deep prejudices against Mexicans and Spanish speakers".[2] Research on Mock Spanish has been continued by Hill, Jennifer Roth-Gordon, Rusty Barrett, and Lauren Mason Carriss, and the core theory has been extended to describe Mock Asian, Mock Ebonics, and others.[2]

Hill's socio-linguistic work is not limited to English speakers, and works such as Speaking Mexicano: Dynamics of Syncretic Language in Central Mexico (co-authored with husband Kenneth C. Hill) and "The voices of Don Gabriel: Responsibility and self in a modern Mexicano narrative" address similar topics in the context of Nahuatl/Mexicano.

Hill's extensive work on endangered languages, as well as her broad interests across the fields of linguistics and anthropology have drawn the comparison to Franz Boas, one of the most prominent figures in linguistic anthropology.[8] In 2009, Hill was given the Franz Boas Award by the American Anthropological Association,[2] and her work was cited repeatedly in Christopher Ball's "Boasian Legacies in Linguistic Anthropology: A Centenary Review of 2011," published in American Anthropologist in 2012.[8]

Professional accomplishments and awards[edit]

Title/Honor Organization Year
Fellow[2] American Academy of Arts and Sciences 1998
Fellow[2] American Association for the Advancement of Science
President[2] American Anthropological Association 1997-1999
Viking Fund Medal in Anthropology[2][9] Wenner-Gren Foundation 2004
Franz Boas Award[2][10] American Anthropological Association 2009

List of publications[edit]

Descriptive Linguistics[edit]


"A peeking rule in Cupeño." Linguistic Inquiry (1970): 534-539.

(with Rosinda Nolasquez) Mulu'wetam: the first people: Cupeño oral history and language. Banning, Calif.: Malki Museum Press, 1973.

(with Kenneth C. Hill) "Honorific usage in modern Nahuatl: the expression of social distance and respect in the Nahuatl of the Malinche Volcano area." Language (1978): 123-155.


(with Kenneth C. Hill) "Mixed grammar, purist grammar, and language attitudes in modern Nahuatl." Language in society 9.03 (1980): 321-348.

(with Kenneth C. Hill). Speaking Mexicano: Dynamics of Syncretic Language in Central Mexico. University of Arizona Press, 1986.


"The flower world of old Uto-Aztecan." Journal of Anthropological Research 48.2 (1992): 117-144.

(with Ofelia Zepeda) "Derived words in Tohono O'odham." International Journal of American Linguistics 58.4 (1992): 355-404.

"Today there is no respect: Nostalgia, 'Respect,' and Oppositional Discourse in Mexicano (Nahuatl) Language Ideology." In Language Ideologies: Practice and Theory. BB Schieffelin, KA Woolard, and PV Kroskrity eds. (1998): 68-86.

(with Ofelia Zepeda) "Tohono O'odham (Papago) plurals." Anthropological Linguistics (1998): 1-42.

(with Ofelia Zepeda) "Language, gender, and biology: Pulmonic ingressive airstream in Tohono O'odham women's speech." Southwest Journal of Linguistics 18 (1999): 15-40.


"Proto-Uto-Aztecan: A community of cultivators in Central Mexico?." American Anthropologist 103.4 (2001): 913-934.

"Toward a linguistic prehistory of the Southwest: 'Azteco-Tanoan' and the arrival of maize cultivation." Journal of Anthropological Research 58.4 (2002): 457-475.

A Grammar of Cupeño. Vol. 136. University of California Press, 2005.

"Northern Uto-Aztecan and Kiowa-Tanoan: Evidence of contact between the proto-languages?." International Journal of American Linguistics 74.2 (2008): 155-188.

Sociolinguistics and Linguistic Anthropology[edit]


Foreign accents, language acquisition, and cerebral dominance revisited." Language Learning 20.2 (1970): 237-248.

"On the evolutionary foundations of language." American Anthropologist 74.3 (1972): 308-317.

"Possible continuity theories of language." Language (1974): 134-150.

"Apes and language." Annual Review of Anthropology 7.1 (1978): 89-112.

"Language contact systems and human adaptations." Journal of Anthropological Research 34.1 (1978): 1-26.


"Review: Language and learning: The debate between Jean Piaget and Noam Chomsky, by Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini." Language 57.4 (1981): 948-953.

"Language death in Uto-Aztecan." International Journal of American Linguistics 49.3 (1983): 258-276.

"The grammar of consciousness and the consciousness of grammar." American Ethnologist 12.4 (1985): 725-737.

"The refiguration of the anthropology of language." Cultural Anthropology 1.1 (1986): 89-102.

"Language, culture, and world view." Linguistics: the Cambridge Survey 4 (1989): 14-37.


(with Ofelia Zepeda) "The condition of Native American languages in the United States." Diogenes 39.153 (1991): 45-65.

(with Bruce Mannheim). "Language and world view." Annual Review of Anthropology 21.1 (1992): 381-404.

"Hasta la vista, baby: Anglo Spanish in the American Southwest." Critique of Anthropology, 13.2 (1993): 145-176.

"Is it really 'No Problemo'? Junk Spanish and Anglo Racism" Texas Linguistic Forum. No. 33. University of Texas, Department of Linguistics, 1993.

(with Judith T. Irvine). Responsibility and Evidence in Oral Discourse. No. 15. Cambridge University Press, 1993.

"Structure and practice in language shift." In Progression and Regression in Language: Sociocultural, Neuropsychological and Linguistic Perspectives, Hyltenstam and Viberg eds. (1993): 68-93.

"Junk Spanish, covert racism, and the (leaky) boundary between public and private spheres." Pragmatics 5.2 (1995): 197-212.

"The voices of Don Gabriel: Responsibility and self in a modern Mexicano narrative." In The Dialogic Emergence of Culture. Dennis Tedlock and Bruce Mannheim, eds. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995. 97-147.

"Languages on the land: toward an anthropological dialectology." (Lecture given March 21, 1996).

"Language, race, and white public space." American Anthropologist 100.3 (1998): 680-689.

"Styling locally, styling globally: What does it mean?." Journal of Sociolinguistics 3.4 (1999): 542-556.

"Syncretism." Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9.1/2 (1999): 244-246.


"'Expert rhetorics' in advocacy for endangered languages: Who is listening, and what do they hear?." Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 12.2 (2002): 119-133.

"Finding culture in narrative." Finding Culture in Talk. Palgrave Macmillan US, 2005. 157-202.

"Intertextuality as source and evidence for indirect indexical meanings." Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 15.1 (2005): 113-124.

"The ethnography of language and language documentation." Essentials of Language Documentation. (2006): 113-128.

The Everyday Language of White Racism. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2008.


  1. ^ a b O'Neill, S. (2006-01-01). Brown, Keith, ed. Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics (Second Edition). Oxford: Elsevier. pp. 301–302. ISBN 9780080448541. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Roth-Gordon, Jennifer; Mendoza-Denton, Norma (2011). "Introduction: The Multiple Voices of Jane Hill". Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. 21: 157–165. 
  3. ^ Hill, Jane H.; Hill, Kenneth C. (1986). Speaking Mexicano: Dynamics of Syncretic Language in Central Mexico. Tucson, AZ: The University of Arizona Press. 
  4. ^ Darnell, Regna and Frederic Wright Gleach. Celebrating a century of the American Anthropological Association: presidential portraits, U of Nebraska Press, 2002 ISBN 0-8032-1720-X, 9780803217201. 297-300.
  5. ^ a b c Hill, Jane H. (2005). A Grammar of Cupeño. University of California Press. 
  6. ^ Hill, Jane H. (2002-01-01). ""Expert Rhetorics" in Advocacy for Endangered Languages: Who Is Listening, and What Do They Hear?". Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. 12 (2): 119–133. 
  7. ^ a b Freire Mora, Juan A. (2011). ""Review: The Everyday Language of White Racism"". Anthropology and Education Quarterly. 42: 300–301. 
  8. ^ a b Ball, Christopher (2012). "Boasian Legacies in Linguistic Anthropology: A Centenary Review of 2011". American Anthropologist. 114: 203–216 – via JSTOR. 
  9. ^ "Anthropologist Receives Prestigious Viking Fund Medal". UANews. Retrieved 2017-03-16. 
  10. ^ "Jane Hill to Receive the 2009 Franz Boas Award | The School of Anthropology". anthropology.arizona.edu. Retrieved 2017-03-16.