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Shifting Language Ideologies in Taiwan: The Folk Redefinition of Taiwan Mandarin


This thesis applies the analytical framework of language ideologies to the folk conceptualization of speech communities in Taiwan. The data come from the pilot ethnography conducted in Taipei, Taiwan in 2014. This thesis considers Taiwanese people’s changing ideologies about language as a reflection of the volatile sociopolitical relationship between the Republic of China (ROC), commonly known as Taiwan, and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), also known as Mainland China. This thesis presents the ways in which Taiwanese people reideologize and utilize Taiwan Mandarin in a project of linguistic differentiation and semiotic boundary maintenance against the PRC (China). The collective memory of learning Mandarin in school is mobilized to establish the conceptual boundary between Taiwan Mandarin and the ‘Chinese’ Mandarin. Accentual features that were considered non-standard are revalorized and valorized as the perceived standard of Taiwan Mandarin. Linguistic features are semiotically selected to index speaker characteristic differences between Taiwanese people and the mainland Chinese.

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