Rhetorical strategies, electronic media, and China English

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Abstract

Scholars tend to explain or predict China English's rhetorical strategies on the basis of Chinese discourse and cultural preferences. This inference model, I argue, falls short in studying the Chinese variety of English because, first, it essentializes both China English and Chinese, treating their discursive strategies as two easily generalizable, static entities; second, it neglects context, which determines the semiotic meaning potential of any language. I propose an alternative model that studies China English with context treated as the main variable. In light of the context model and Aristotelian and Confucian rhetorical concepts, I examine how Chinese youths use English to foster a community and to realize their particular goals in a bulletin board forum. It has been found that they develop patterned rhetorical strategies in the contexts of requesting opinions, seeking advice, sharing experiences, and expressing feelings. These strategies evidence China English's growing meaning potential in electronic medium spaces because they differ remarkably from those identified in other contexts by previous scholarship, and they cannot be easily labeled as traditional Chinese. As China English finds its way into more contexts and domains, I suggest that we adopt the context model to fully unveil the language's expanding meaning potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-249
Number of pages17
JournalWorld Englishes
Volume27
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2008

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language

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