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Internet Slang and China's Social Culture: A Case Study of Internet Users in Guiyang

2013, Master of Arts, Ohio State University, East Asian Languages and Literatures.
The number of Chinese Internet users has surpassed 300,000 people over the past decade, and the Internet boom has brought with it an upsurge in the number of words and fixed expressions coined and disseminated in chat rooms, micro-blogs, and other online venues. The Internet provides a unique environment in China for the circulation of such expressions, many of which are politically sensitive, as it remains a relatively uncensored platform on which users can instantly transmit messages to millions of people. These messages often disseminate slang not found in Standard Mandarin; nevertheless, some of these slang expressions have become so widely accepted that they have been entered into the official Xinhua dictionary.

The goal of this study was to examine the attitude of young Chinese Internet users towards Internet slang and to investigate claims made by other researchers that Internet slang contaminates Standard Mandarin and should be censored. Thus, this paper explores attitudes towards Internet slang words among college-age Guiyang Internet users, drawing on Michael Halliday’s Register Theory as well as the sociocultural theory of memetics. Using the results of a questionnaire survey, interviews conducted with students at Guizhou Normal University, and a corpus of data collected on the Sina Weibo microblog, I found that Internet slang serves the function not only of entertaining through humorous wordplay, but also of expressing complex feelings of social dissatisfaction. It is this emotional content that contributes to the spread of certain Internet slang memes over others. Additionally, in contrast to other researchers in the field, I concluded that users do not believe Internet slang to be negatively impacting Standard Mandarin and are wary of any government influence on online postings. Moreover, respondents clearly distinguished among language registers appropriate for the use of Internet slang versus Standard Mandarin. Finally, I discuss the implications of my findings for popular themes in Chinese media, such as the portrayal of Internet slang as a cause of online verbal violence.
Galal Walker, Professor (Committee Member)
Jianqi Wang, Professor (Advisor)
Xiaobin Jian, Professor (Committee Member)
85 p.

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Draggeim, A. (2013). Internet Slang and China's Social Culture: A Case Study of Internet Users in Guiyang. (Electronic Thesis or Dissertation). Retrieved from https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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Draggeim, Alexandra. "Internet Slang and China's Social Culture: A Case Study of Internet Users in Guiyang." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2013. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 22 Sep 2017.

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Draggeim, Alexandra "Internet Slang and China's Social Culture: A Case Study of Internet Users in Guiyang." Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2013. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/

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