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Undoing Commonness Through Cosmopolitan Mandarin: Language and Social Change in China

Zhang, Qing

978 0 415 70808 1
List price(s):
39.95 USD
29.99 GBP

Publication date:
8 September 2017

Full description: 

Language and Social Change in China: Undoing Commonness through Cosmopolitan Mandarin offers an innovative and authoritative account of the crucial role of language in shaping the sociocultural landscape of contemporary China. Based on a wide range of data collected since the 1990s and grounded in quantitative and discourse analyses of sociolinguistic variation, Qing Zhang tracks the emergence of what she terms Cosmopolitan Mandarin as a new stylistic resource for a rising urban elite and a new middle-class consumption-based lifestyle. The book powerfully illuminates that Cosmopolitan Mandarin participates in dismantling the prereform, socialist, conformist society by bringing about new social distinctions. Rich in cultural and linguistic details, the book is the first of its kind to highlight the implications of language change on the social order and cultural life of contemporary China. Language and Social Change in China is ideal for students and scholars interested in sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology, and Chinese language and society.

Table of contents: 

Introduction: Emerging Social Distinctions and the Semiotic Inadequacy of the Common Speech Chapter 1. Sociolinguistic Change, Style, and Ideology Chapter 2. Beijing Yuppies: The New Business Elite Chapter 3. Cosmopolitan Mandarin in the Making of Beijing Yuppies Chapter 4. Cosmopolitan Mandarin in the Making of a New Chinese Middle-Class Consumer Chapter 5. Warring Standards: Contesting the Enregisterment of Cosmopolitan Mandarin Chapter 6. A Style-Based Approach to Sociolinguistic Change


Qing Zhang is Associate Professor in the School of Anthropology at the University of Arizona, USA.




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