A Hybrid Chinese for the 21st Century

Wei, Jennifer Meei Yau

1: . English Department, Soochow University, Taipei, Taiwan 2: . Center for Chinese Studies, UC Berkeley, USA


A Hybrid Chinese for the 21st Century


This paper aims to point out the many forces and counter forces at work in

Taiwan’s choice of language and national identity. We argue that our construction and perceptions of language and identity parallel socio-political transformations, and that language and identity crises arise during power transitions. Under these premises language and identity are never well-defined or well-bounded. Instead, they are pristine political symbols subject to manipulation and exploitation during socio-historical upheavals. By adopting CDA (Critical Discourse Analysis), we are able to reveal the intricacies of the socio-political conditions at play in constructing and sustaining the many nationalistic discourses. Furthermore, by taking a historical journey through the ontology of Taiwan’s nationalistic discourses, we are able to see the rise and demise of a national consciousness, the similarities and differences among various discourses which are not necessarily competing against each other in a polyphonic hyper-modern era, but projecting pluralistic political possibilities in a democratizing context. Last, alternative ways to conceptualize language and identity are suggested by first deconstructing the blood and soil metaphors and the familial allusions describing language varieties in the Chinese communities and then by looking into the concepts of concentric and marginality for a more realistic description in the post-modern context.

Session: Paper session
Various Topics
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 11:00-12:30
room: 12