New directions created by Putonghua and English’s 'double domination' of Zhuang language in China

Alexandra Grey

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review

    Abstract

    This paper examines new directions in the mobilization of linguistic resources for identity and inclusion in circumstances where Standard Mandarin (Putonghua) and English dominate a Chinese minority language. While existing literature examines tensions between Putonghua and English, it rarely considers China’s official minority languages: another tension exists between a “peripheral language” and the combined practices of “supercentral” Putonghua and “hypercentral” English (de Swaan’s categories (2001)). Drawing on a 2014-2015 ethnographic study of Zhuang, the Kam-Tai language of the largest official minority group in China, this paper argues that Putonghua and English dominate in a relatively stable coalition, and that, contrary to some other minority language cases in China, the imbalance of power vis-à-vis Zhuang results in its destabilisation even as a resource of home-making and ethnic identity, the traditional power bases of minority language. I identify complementarities in the relationship between Putonghua and English enabled by capital in different fields and value constructed on national and international “scales” (Blommaert, 2007). I explain two language ideologies that stabilise this double domination. Putonghua and English, but not Zhuang, are constructed as features of a sought-after “habitus of mobility” (Grey, 2015), a habitus of the kind Blommaert (2007, p. 11) predicts will “prevail over others because [it] connect[s] to higher and more powerful scale-levels”. Consequently, not only are people shifting away from learning or using Zhuang but, through discourse, reconstructing Zhuang identity as authentic even without Zhuang language practices.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationBreaking theory
    Subtitle of host publicationnew directions in applied linguistics : proceedings of the 48th Annual Meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics
    EditorsTilly Harrison, Ursula Lanvers, Martin Edwardes
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherScitsiugnil Press
    Pages37-52
    Number of pages16
    ISBN (Print)9780955953385
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    EventAnnual Meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics (48th : 2015) - Birmingham
    Duration: 3 Sep 20155 Sep 2015

    Conference

    ConferenceAnnual Meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics (48th : 2015)
    CityBirmingham
    Period3/09/155/09/15

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