‘correct’ Chinese, ‘good’ Chinese, or "pretty" Chinese

This is a project about the so-called ‘correct’ Chinese, ‘good’ Chinese, or “pretty” Chinese—a variety of Chinese or particular uses of Chinese that native speakers of Chinese believe to be better than others. To start with, you need to distinguish the descriptive approach to language and grammar (which describes grammar as is) from the prescriptive attitudes about grammar and language use. We focus on the prescriptive attitudes for this project. The focus is on the uses of the Chinese language that are considered incorrect not because they are ungrammatical but because they are ‘non-standard’ or ‘socially less acceptable’.

You can work on any dialect of Chinese. You will collect at least 5 prescriptive statements about the good uses and abuses of Chinese. For example, you may hear people complaining certain speech styles are not “pretty”, or you may hear comments on how to more appropriately use Chinese. Please document at least 5 statements. You can collect the data by searching online comments about Chinese, or by conducting an interview with a native speaker of Chinese. Make sure to cite where you got your collection from. If it is from a particular website, you need to cite the URL appropriately. If you conducted an interview, then you need to introduce the linguistic background of your informant.

Possible directions may include

The relation between dialects and Standard Chinese (i.e., Mandarin)

Stereotypes and social stigma associated with dialects, accents, and gendered language

Are the uses consistent with the functions of the high and low varieties in a diglossic situation?

Examples of bad Chinese and why they are not considered fully acceptable

The socioeconomic, political, and educational underpinnings for language attitudes

To submit your report, first make a list of 5 statements. Then add a one-page discussion of what you learned from these statements about language attitudes. The whole assignment should be 2 pages in length (single-spaced).

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