Between the standard and non-standard: Accent and identity among transnational Mandarin speakers studying abroad in China

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Abstract

Focusing on three American. 1 students with histories of using non-standard Mandarin, this study uncovers the ways in which bi/multilingual learners may engage in negotiations of accent and identity when they study abroad and encounter different sets of language standards. The promotion of standard Mandarin in mainland China is achieved through a clear set of linguistic standards that prescribe how Mandarin should sound. However, in Chinese diaspora communities in the U.S., multiple norms continue to co-exist. Drawing from the language socialization theory, this study focuses on how these students and their Chinese hosts use or reject one stereotypical nonstandard Mandarin feature, the retroflex/dental merger, in their everyday discourse. The findings illustrate how they become socialized into the concept of standard Mandarin while studying in China. As they responded to the notion of standard in divergent ways, the results highlight study abroad as a potential space for bi/multilingual learners to (re)interpret and (re)negotiate accent and identity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalSystem
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2017

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Keywords

  • Case study
  • Heritage learners
  • Language socialization
  • Mandarin
  • Study abroad

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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