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Title: Language variation and social identity in Beijing
Author: Zhao, Hui
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 6450
Awarding Body: Queen Mary University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis investigates language variation among a group of young adults in Beijing, China, with an aim to advance our understanding of social meaning in a language and a society where the topic is understudied. In this thesis, I examine the use of Beijing Mandarin among Beijingborn university students in Beijing in relation to social factors including gender, social class, career plan, and future aspiration. Language variation in this context can further our understanding of Chinese culture in a newlyreformed society while exploring important constructs such as gender and aspiration in China, in part by establishing the social meaning of the local vernacular and its role in identity construction among speakers. The study presents data from both sociolinguistic interviews, conducted with 21 Beijingers who have di erent class backgrounds, career plans, and future aspiration, and self-recordings, from a subset of 10 Beijingers in conversation with their family and/or friends. I focus on three thus far under-examined linguistic variables { neutral tone, classi er omission, and intensi er te { while incorporating an additional variable { erhua (word- nal rhotacisation) in the discussion of stylistic variation in Beijing Mandarin. The results rst provide an overview of language variation in Beijing Mandarin, as shown in the use of di erent features and their linguistic and social constraints. We observe familiar patterns often found in sociolinguistic literature for some social factors (e.g. gender), while more complex interactions exist for others (e.g. aspiration and career path). The ndings suggest that Beijing Mandarin conveys localness and masculinity which is expected for a vernacular variety. Finer distinctions in the social meanings of these variables are found in sub-groups of Beijingers with di erent gender, future career path and/or aspiration. Moreover, speakers are seen to utilise these variables and their meanings in the construction of personae.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council ; Queen Mary, University of London
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Language and linguistics ; Language variation ; Beijing ; Social meaning ; linguistic and social constraints