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Ideologies of the Chinese language in Finland

A critical analysis of policy documents and news articles

Haiqin Liu
  • Corresponding author
  • Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki, Yliopistonkatu 4, P.O. Box 9, Siltavuorenpenger 5 A, 00014 Helsinki, Finland
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/ Prue Holmes
Published Online: 2018-09-27 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/glochi-2018-0012


In recent years, the visibility and importance of the Chinese language (Mandarin) has been rising globally due to its emerging status as a significant global language used by native and non-native speakers and learners. This study looks into how Finland, a small country where English is used as a second language, deals with the growing prominence of the Chinese language. More specifically, we are interested in how Finnish policies and media respond and contribute to the emerging global discourses on the Chinese language. Drawing on critical discourse analysis we examined the discourses on the Chinese language presented in policy documents and two of the main news outlets in Finland—Yleisradio (Yle) and Helsingin Sanomat (HS)—with the aim to reveal what ideologies lie behind the construction of the Chinese language. Four prevailing categories of ideological discourses of the Chinese language emerged from our analysis of the political and media texts: Chinese as a useful language, Chinese as a world/global language, Chinese as an increasingly popular language, and Chinese as a different and/or difficult language. We argue that despite the multiple societal meanings the Chinese language appears to have in the policy documents and news articles, the discourses are related to the economic allure of China and share similar ideological roots that emphasize the symbolic capital of the Chinese language.

Keywords: the Chinese language; language ideologies; discourse; policy documents; news articles


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About the article

Published Online: 2018-09-27

Published in Print: 2018-09-25

Citation Information: Global Chinese, Volume 4, Issue 2, Pages 247–270, ISSN (Online) 2199-4382, ISSN (Print) 2199-4374, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/glochi-2018-0012.

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