Personal Multilingual Practices in China Mainland

Authors: Xinyi Zhong (Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia)
Speakers: Xinyi Zhong
Strand: Sociolinguistics
Session Type: General Session


“China has long been a multi-ethnic and multilingual country currently with 56 ethnic groups speaking around 2300 dialects or subdialects. While the interpretation of multilingualism in the context of China has been controversial among academia, whether there is societal multilingualism in China mainland remains unclear. The study investigates the multilingual practices in China mainland through case study. The following questions are proposed: What are the features of multilingual practices in China mainland? What are the factors contributing to the features in China mainland? What type of multilingualism does China mainland belong to? To answer these questions, participants’ video-recorded daily conversations and WeChat text messages were collected through two-day observations. In follow-up interviews, participants were asked about their intentions to behave as multilingual. The results show that multilingual features including borrowing, code-switching, interference, individual creations and biliteracy have been found among the participants. To symbolize personal identity and to accommodate to different participants are two key factors contributing to the multilingual practices among the participants. The study takes personal multilingual experiences as reflective phenomena and contributes to the interpretation of multilingualism in China mainland.

Keywords: China mainland, Discourse analysis, Multilingual practices, Sociolinguistics.