Universiteit Leiden

nl en


The Sociolinguistics of Rhotacization in the Beijing Speech Community

On 21 September 2022 H. Hu successfully defended a doctoral thesis and graduated.

H. Hu
21 September 2022
Leiden Repository

This dissertation investigates the social, attitudinal, and linguistic mechanisms behind language choice and language change in postmodern urban China. More specifically, it examines the language choice, use, and pronunciation norm formation of rhotacization in Beijing, due to the normative forces of urbanization, Standard Chinese, native dialects, and the expression of belonging. This dissertation studies the language attitude towards and language use of rhotacization in the Beijing Speech Community in quality and quantity, with the methods of sociolinguistics and phonetics.The language attitude study shows that both Beijing native speakers and migrants report the perceived salience of rhotacization and rhotacization imitation by migrants. In addition, both native and migrant respondents associate migrants with upward social mobility, in the background of Standard Chinese promotion and influx of migrants. The prestige of Standard Chinse, the difficulty of learning rhotacization, and the non-necessity of using Beijing Mandarin are also reported.A significant result in the phonetic study demonstrates that, as an important feature in both Beijing Mandarin and Standard Chinese, rhotacization is undergoing the decline of both tokens and types in native speakers’ natural speech. However, compared to migrants, Beijing native speakers still produce the biggest number of rhotacization tokens, types, and variants.

Supervisors: Prof. dr. R. Sybesma and Prof.dr. N.O. Schiller

This website uses cookies.  More information.