Exploring the role of attitudes in new dialect formation in Hohhot, China
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This dissertation is a variationist sociolinguistic study exploring the role of speakers’ attitudes in speech production and the language change involved in large-scale dialect contact situations where a new dialect mixture is formed, by presenting the case of Hohhot (呼和浩特), a Chinese immigrant city. The study employs quantitative and qualitative methods to investigate the effects of speakers’ attitudes on their linguistic behavior and the role attitudes may play in different stages of the new dialect formation process.
In Hohhot, contact between the locally-born residents who speak the local Jìn dialect (Jìn Yǔ 晋语), and migrants from all parts of China, who arrived in the 1950s and 1960s, has led to the formation of a mixed, new vernacular, known locally as “Hū Pǔ (呼普)”, which means “Hohhot Pǔtōnghuà (普通话 ‘standard Mandarin’)”. Anthropological literature of Hohhot has reported clear social stratification and intense social conflicts between the locally-born and the migrant communities (Jankowiak, 1993; Borchigud, 1996). Against this background, this thesis examines whether the linguistic variation in Hohhot people’s speech is conditioned by their social attitudes, and more generally, how the formation of Hū Pǔ is influenced by such socio-psychological factors as speakers’ attitudes and identities.
Data was collected in the fall of 2014 and 67 speakers from three generations were interviewed – 35 from the migrant community and 32 who were locally born. Individual speakers’ attitudes and identity information were collected using overt questionnaires by employing the “Attitude Analog Scale” (Llamas & Watt, 2014), and principal component analysis was conducted to reveal underlying attitudinal categories from the responses and build up attitudinal index scores for each speaker. Individuals’ social contact with Jìn speakers was also collected in the interviews, as well as other traditional demographic information such as age, sex, and education. Language production data were collected from interviews and an elicitation task designed to explore variations in a set of disyllabic lexemes known as “l-words” (Hou, 1999). Two linguistic variables were examined in l-words. A stress pattern variable displays variation in that a weak-strong pattern is typical of Jìn dialect, and a strong-weak pattern is typical of Pǔtōnghuà. A fricative variable indicates whether the initial sounds [ph, th, kh, h] in l-words contain a period of following frication, often [x].
Mixed-effects modeling in R (R core Team, 2015) found that speakers’ attitudinal index scores were significant predictors for both variables, and the effects of attitudes were still found even when speakers’ social interaction with Jìn-communities was considered. Investigation of the migrant community found that the attitudinal scores representing different aspects of speakers’ socio-psychological orientations had different effects in the three generations, which I argue is related to the likely change of social meanings attached to the linguistic variables – the later generations tended to adopt these Jìn features as markers of their urban Hohhot identity. The two linguistic variables examined also demonstrate different levels of awareness among speakers. Therefore, this thesis also explores the effects of attitude on speech production in relation to awareness or salience. The findings suggest that speakers’ explicit awareness was not a threshold for the attitude-language correlation – speakers’ attitudes were still found to be significant predictors of speakers’ production even when a variable was below their conscious awareness.
Overall, the results provide evidence that speakers’ overtly offered attitudes are likely to predict their linguistic behavior, and the effects of attitudes can be independent from other closely related social factors such as speakers’ social networks. The findings also suggest that the role attitudes and identities play in new dialect formation can be very complex, and it is essential to understand speakers’ socio-psychological orientations in specific social contexts.