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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton March 24, 2020

Mock Impoliteness and Co-Construction of Hudui Rituals in Chinese Online Interaction

  • Linsen Zhao

    Linsen Zhao is a lecturer in the School of English and Education of Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. He received his Ph.D. in pragmatics in Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. His research efforts have focused on im/politeness, interpersonal pragmatics, and interpersonal conflict mediation.

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This paper examines an under-researched phenomenon of mock impoliteness in Chinese online interaction, namely, the practice of hudui (lit. reciprocal jocular abuse) as a solidarity enhancing device among acquaintances. Drawing on data from Qzone interaction among Chinese university students, this study focuses on ritual features, sequential patterns and interpersonal functions of hudui through the lens of Kádár’s (2013, 2017) interpersonal ritual theory. The results show that hudui is co-constructed by the online participants with the symmetric pattern of mutual abuse, which distinguishes it from previous studies of jocular abuse (i.e., the asymmetric pattern of abuser– recipient). They also reveal that hudui accomplishes various kinds of relational work, including fostering intimacy, enhancing mutual affection-based face and creating amusement.

About the author

Linsen Zhao

Linsen Zhao is a lecturer in the School of English and Education of Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. He received his Ph.D. in pragmatics in Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. His research efforts have focused on im/politeness, interpersonal pragmatics, and interpersonal conflict mediation.


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The author wishes to thank for their support the Department of Education of Guangdong Province and Center for Linguistics and Applied Linguistics at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, China, for the project (2018WZDXM006) on the frontier research and theoretical innovations in interpersonal pragmatics and the Youth Fund Project (Project No.: 19QN34) of Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. He also wishes to thank Professor Chen Jianping and Professor Xiong Tao for hosting this special column and to express thanks for the support from the Chinese Ministry of Education Research Project of Humanities and Social Science (Project No.: 16JJD740006) conducted by the Center for Linguistics and Applied Linguistics, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. He would also like to acknowledge the contribution of anonymous reviewers for their insightful feedback on the drafts of this article and the editors of the Chinese Journal of Applied Linguistics for their diligent work.

Published Online: 2020-03-24
Published in Print: 2020-03-26

© 2020 FLTRP, Walter de Gruyter, Cultural and Education Section British Embassy

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