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The Rise of Chinese Internet Language: Product and Agent of Globalization from Below


Yun Xiao
Published Online: 2015-04-14 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/glochi-2015-1005


As globalization presses on in China a market economy and democracy have been developed, and ordinary people obtained opportunities at many levels. One of them is their tangible access to media networks, computer facilities, online technologies, and global information exchange, which leads to the rise and expansion of Chinese Internet Language (CIL). Drawing on theoretical perspectives from globalization research, such as globalization and transformation (Steger 2009), as well as globalization and language (Fairclough 2006, 2009), this study intends to examine the emerging CIL and its role in social change. Taking a globalization and language approach, this study seeks to answer questions such as: What characterizes the CIL? How does the CIL reflect the changing social conditions in contemporary China? And how does the cyber community generate new public discourse that drives the changing China?

Data used for this study are from three major sources: (1) The corpus-based annual national reports entitled The Language Situation in China《中国语言生活状况报告》Zhongguo Yuyan Shenghuo Zhuangkuang Baogao from 2005 to 2013 (English version in Volumes 1 and 2 of Language Policies and Practices in China, Yuming Li and Wei Li, 2013, 2014), (2) the Semi-Annual Report on International Development in China by CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Center), and (3) recent Chinese publications, online or printed. Collectively, the data indicate that, with globalization rapidly changing and seriously challenging China, its social conditions and people’s life chances are radically changing, which are measured, evaluated, and reflected on by the language use of grassroots people that is marked with innovations, catch words, and novel forms. Officially branded as low standard and crude, CIL binds together a Chinese-speaking cyber community that generates new public discourse as the pushing hand and uncompromising challenger of the social change “from below.”


随着全球化在中国的持续深入,市场经济和社会民主不断得以发展,普通老百姓因此获得了各种机会,诸如社交媒体,计算机设备,网络技术,全球信息交换等等。中国的互联网也因之而兴起,并得以迅猛发展。借鉴全球化研究的理论观点,如全球化与转型(2009 年斯蒂格),全球化与语言使用(费尔克拉夫 2006 年,2009 年),本研究旨在探讨新兴中国互联网语言的发展及其它在社会变化中的作用,并力图回答以下问题:中国网络语言有什么特点?中国网络语言如何反映当代中国的社会变化?中国网络社区如何催生新的公共话语来促进社会发展变化?本研究采用的数据来自三个主要来源:(1)以语料库为基础的中国语言生活状况的年度报告 《中国语言生活状况报告》2005 至 2013 年(《中国语言政策和实践在英文版》卷 1 和卷 2,李宇明和李 巍,2013,2014)(2)由CNNIC 发布的《 中国互联网络信息中心在中国的国际发展》半年度报告 (2011-2014);(3)近期中文网络和《人民日报》海外版。数据表明,随着全球化迅速改变并挑战中国,其社会状况和人民生活正在发生根本性的变化,这些变化正在普通老百姓的网络流行语中得到体现,衡量与评估。这些流行语新颖,生动,接地气,被传统媒体称为“平民化,低门槛。”总之,中国的网络用语和网络社区,正成为“自下而上”的新型公共话语的推手和社会变革的坚定挑战者。

Keywords: Chinese Internet language; globalization and language; cyber community; cyber citizen; language mix; catch words; diaspora; code-switching; derivation; analogy; downgrading; grammaticalization

关键词: 中国网络用语; 全球化与语言使用; 网络社区; 网民; 语言混合; 流行语; 移民社群; 语码转换; 派生; 类推; 语法降级; 语法化。


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About the article

Yun Xiao

Yun Xiao is Professor of Chinese language and linguistics at Bryant University, Rhode Island, U.S.A. She has a Ph.D. degree in Linguistics. Her research interests are in Chinese syntax and discourse. Her publications include over 20 journal articles and book chapters, three co-edited/co-authored research monographs and a four-volume Chinese Literature Reading Series.


Published Online: 2015-04-14

Published in Print: 2015-04-01

Citation Information: Global Chinese, Volume 1, Issue 1, Pages 111–137, ISSN (Online) 2199-4382, ISSN (Print) 2199-4374, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/glochi-2015-1005.

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