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Academic Paper

Title: A Chinese Yuppie in Beijing: Phonological variation and the construction of a new professional identity
Author: Qing Zhang
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of Arizona
Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics; Phonology
Subject Language: Chinese, Mandarin
Abstract: Recent sociolinguistic studies have given increased attention to the situated practice of members of locally based communities. Linguistic variation examined tends to fall on a continuum between a territorially based "standard" variety and a regional or ethnic vernacular. This article emphasizes the need for sociolinguistics, especially variationist sociolinguistics, to look beyond strictly local contexts and to go beyond treating variation as located along a linear dimension of standard and vernacular. Based on quantitative analysis of four phonological variables among Chinese professionals in foreign and state-owned companies in Beijing, this study demonstrates that professionals in foreign businesses employ linguistic resources from both local and global sources to construct a new cosmopolitan variety of Mandarin, whereas their counterparts in state-owned businesses favor the use of local features. The study shows that variation does not just reflect existing social categories and social change, but is a resource for constructing those categories and participates in social change.


This article appears IN Language in Society Vol. 34, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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