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The Normative Standard of Mandarin in Taiwan: An Analysis of Variation in Metapragmatic Discourse

Brubaker, Brian (2012) The Normative Standard of Mandarin in Taiwan: An Analysis of Variation in Metapragmatic Discourse. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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It has been argued for many years that a new standard of Mandarin is developing within Taiwan, distinct from the official form based on the Beijing pronunciation, as well as the non-standard vernacular, Taiwan-guoyu. The parameters by which this new standard, Taiwanese Mandarin, may be recognized, however, and the extent to which it exists in common perceptions, remain largely unknown.
In order to better describe this variety, interviews were conducted in the north and south of Taiwan to elicit metapragmatic reports on the linguistic characteristics of highly standard and non-standard speech to mark opposing ends of a continuum of standardness. The inner area of this spectrum reveals the shape of a normative standard of Mandarin in common language ideologies. A quantitative sociolinguistic analysis was also conducted to measure usage of the segments elicited in these reports.
Participants indicated that the prescribed form of the retroflex initials [ʈʂ], [ʈʂʰ], and [ʂ] creates distance within interaction and marks speakers as ‘weird’ or ‘strange’. Though it represents the standardized form, it is socially disfavored in general usage, thus marking one end of the continuum. In contrast, deletion of the labial feature in [w], [f], and [y], was most highly associated with a crude lack of sophistication, ruralness, and low education, marking the other end of the continuum.
In the quantitative analyses, the non-prescribed labial segments were associated with low SES, older age, and factors of local identity. The prescribed retroflex correlated with higher SES, and northern identity, and showed a change over time toward more prescribed usage. The youngest age category, however, showed a reversal of this trend. An intermediate category of the retroflex initials patterned very similarly to the prescribed form, however it was free of negative qualitative associations. Thus Taiwanese Mandarin is marked by the absence of prescribed retroflex and non-prescribed labial forms, and presence of the intermediate retroflex.
Some also questioned the basic existence of a ‘standard’ Mandarin in Taiwan, or explicitly affirmed the notion of a Taiwanese Mandarin. It is evident that the nature of standard Mandarin in Taiwan is in a state of sharp ideological and behavioral change.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairKiesling, Scott F.Kiesling@pitt.eduKIESLING
Committee MemberHeylen,
Committee MemberJohnstone,
Committee MemberJuffs, Alanjuffs@pitt.eduJUFFS
Date: 9 October 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 1 May 2012
Approval Date: 9 October 2012
Submission Date: 8 August 2012
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 172
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Linguistics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Language Ideologies Taiwanese Mandarin Taiwan Guoyu Taiwanese Language and Identity
Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2012 17:34
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:01


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