Dr. Jin Liu's recently published book explores local languages and dialects in China

Exploring local dialects in China

October 7, 2016

Atlanta, GA

In Signifying the Local: Media Productions Rendered in Local Languages in Mainland China in the New Millennium (Brill, 2013), Dr. Jin Liu examines contemporary cultural productions rendered in local languages and dialects (fangyan) in the fields of television, cinema, music, and literature in Mainland China. Despite the 2001 Chinese national language law that prescribes standard Putonghua Mandarin as the principal language for broadcast radio, television, and movies, the new millennium has witnessed an expanded use of local languages in mass media. This book addresses this unresolved tension and the nine chapters explore the rhetorical use of local language, with special attention to variations in the way dialect functions in different media and genres, and the reception of dialect productions by their audiences.

Drawing on the fields of literary theory, cultural studies, film studies, media studies, sociolinguistics, and dialectology, this ground-breaking interdisciplinary research is a valuable contribution to China Studies. First, it provides an account of the ways in which local-language media have become a platform for the articulation of multivocal, complex, and marginal identities in post-socialist China. Viewed from the uniquely revealing perspective of local languages, the mediascape of China is no longer reducible to a unified, homogeneous, and coherent national culture, and thus renders any monolithic account of the Chinese language, Chineseness, and China impossible.

 

Second, this research on the significance of locality contributes to the study of globalization. It presses the issue of localization further and examines local communities that are contained within the nation-state. From this perspective, the function of the nation-state seems more and more aligned with globalization and its concomitant homogenization and centralization. Third, because a major aesthetic function of local language in mainstream media in contemporary China is to evoke laughter, this book examines a range of comic genres and forms thus contributing to the study of comedy, an often neglected genre in China studies. Fourth, this book on the stratification of audience reception (on the local, national, and international levels) and regional imbalance in audience reception in China forges a connection between dialect analysis and the study of audience, another area that is often neglected in scholarship.

For more information about this book, please go to: http://www.brill.com/products/book/signifying-local

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