What a title! Choice of address terms and social cultural changes in China

Li Wei

Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom

WS132: Cultural Values and Language Behaviour: Focus on Asia

Terms of address are more than a set of social conventions. Their use, and more importantly for this paper, the changes in their use, reflect cultural beliefs and values of the speakers as well as the social structure of the society. What determines the choice of address terms in social interaction is a complex issue and requires a multidimensional investigation. This paper examines the choice of address terms in contemporary Chinese society, which is undergoing significant socio-cultural, political and economic changes. We look at examples of address terms used by different generations of speakers of different genders, educational levels and regional origins in a variety of interactional contexts. We focus particular on factors such as age, occupation and the goal of the specific transaction and how they affect the choice of terms of address. Key cultural notions of the individual, the family, and profession are discussed.

Session: Workshop (part 2)
Cultural Values and Language Behaviour: Focus on Asia
Saturday, April 5, 2008, 13:45-15:15
room: 18