Speaking or being Chinese: the case of South African-born Chinese

Yu, K. and Vivier, E. ORCID: 0000-0003-3401-0365, 2015. Speaking or being Chinese: the case of South African-born Chinese. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 2015 (236), pp. 55-73. ISSN 0165-2516

1240071_Vivier.pdf - Published version

Download (801kB) | Preview


Language is often seen as an important symbol and marker of identity. The relationship between the two especially comes to the fore in the experience of immigrants who often must negotiate competing pressures on their identities and language usage. In this article we examine the link between language and identity through an exploration of the lived experiences of four Chinese individuals in South Africa. Drawing on interview data, we examine their language and identity shifts and the factors driving such shifts (or lack thereof). Our analysis reveals multiple degrees and expressions of Chinese identity, of which language is sometimes but not always relevant. We find that social and historical contexts shape the needs and motivations of the individual, who often uses language strategically and flexibly to emphasise or understate particular identities. We conclude that the situational view of the language-identity relation is more appropriate to explain the weak and strong language-identity links that occur at the micro-level.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: International Journal of the Sociology of Language
Creators: Yu, K. and Vivier, E.
Publisher: Walter de Gruyter
Date: 1 November 2015
Volume: 2015
Number: 236
ISSN: 0165-2516
Divisions: Schools > Nottingham Business School
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 26 Nov 2019 15:45
Last Modified: 26 Nov 2019 15:45
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/38538

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View


Views per month over past year


Downloads per month over past year