The role linguistic, stylistic and sociocultural factors play in the popularity of contemporary Chinese-English codeswitching pop songs among urban youth in Shanghai
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis examines what roles linguistic, stylistic and sociocultural factors play in the popularity of contemporary Chinese-English bilingual codeswitching songs released between the years of 2004 and 2010, making a case study of the urban youth audience of Shanghai. It is significant as it is the first large scale study into Chinese-English songs that has looked at all of these three factors: linguistic, stylistic and sociocultural, but also because it compares the findings in these three areas from corpus analysis with an audience study. A corpus of 150 songs from popular codeswitching performers was collected, and was analysed individually in relation to the linguistic, stylistic and sociocultural factors with regard to features that may enhance the popularity of these songs. To this was added an audience study based on fieldwork in Shanghai which included participant observation and data collection from online surveys and individual interviews. First a linguistic analysis was done on syntactic grounds based on the Myers-Scotton 1993 Classic MLF (Matrix Language Frame) model, and this was followed by an analysis of the metaphorical functions of these songs following general pragmatic theories of Gumperz (1982). A stylistic analysis was then done on the corpus, using theories of literary stylistics from Leech (1969) and the stylistic findings of recent codeswitching researchers. This stylistic section also examined modes of language use after Hymes. The sociocultural aspects within the songs were examined using a social anthropological framework, and used research in the East Asian setting by Gao Liwei (2007) and Yang Mei-hui (1997) on identity formation, as well as the Accommodation Theory of Giles and Smith (1979), and other research relevant to codeswitching in the East Asian pop culture context, such as J. Lee (2004, 2006). Data collection was also carried out based on Hymes’ (1971) ethnographical techniques, and Blom and Gumperz’s (1972) participant observation. The findings from each of the factors were discussed in relation to the audience study and the results show that: 1) These codeswitching songs are both a reflection of the singers’ and audiences’ need to present a particular identity, negotiated within the particular expectations of music, genre and location. 2) Chinese-English codeswitching songs are a reflection of the high levels of English codeswitching in Shanghai, Chinese, and also wider East Asian popular culture, and reflect a growing bilingual or multilingual identity in wider East Asia. 3) The English within the Chinese-English codeswitching songs is localised to a Southern Chinese, almost a Shanghai context. 4) The uses to which codeswitching is put, or how codeswitching appears in songs, depends on many factors, and so it is difficult to clearly define the functions, stylistic techniques, or sociocultural purposes of codeswitching in songs consistently across different genres, chronological periods (due to changes in language use over time), or between cultures. Despite this, it is hoped that the number of unique findings from the corpus analysis and the discussion in this study could enlighten or stimulate future studies examining codeswitching in songs.