Date of Award

8-2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics

Advisor(s)

Rania Habib

Keywords

dialect in contact, language policy, social context, speech community, variation

Subject Categories

Chinese Studies

Abstract

This study considers dialect variation by young and middle-aged speakers in the Xianggang community in China. The Xianggang community is located at the southern part of China, but it used to be composed of northern people. The contact between northern and southern dialects has given birth to a dialect mixed situation. With the attempt to know the driving force of language change within this speech community, both social factors and linguistic factors have been taken into consideration. In this study, Erhua is chosen as the representation of northern dialects and rusheng is chosen on behalf of the southern dialects. Linguistically, erhua has two environments: post-vocalic and post-nasal. Against the background of Chinese education, social factors such as age, gender, and period of residence as well as the division of northern and southern characteristics have been studied.

This study suggests that there is dialect variation within the speech community, while more evidence is needed to support the assumption of dialect acquisition. Age and the division between northern and southern characteristics play significant roles on the use of rusheng and erhua within the speech community. Period of residence has effect on the use of erhua but not on rusheng. Influenced by Putonghua education, young speakers have less variation in their use of these two linguistic variables than middle-aged speakers do. Within the social context of a steel company, the use of rusheng is lexically conditioned because both northern and southern-characterized speakers choose to apply this tone to similar characters. Post-vocalic erhua is a significant linguistic environment for the use of erhua of the northerners. This is changing tendency towards the use of Putonghua within the speech community.

Access

Open Access

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