Personal Multilingual Practices in the Chinese Mainland

Author Information

Xinyi Zhong,
Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia

Lay Hoon Ang,
Universiti Putra Malaysia, Malaysia

DOI: 10.47298/cala2022.3-3
The GLOCAL Proceedings:  The GLOCAL Conference in Asia 2022


China has long been a multi-ethnic and multicultural country, and currently has 56 ethnic groups speaking approximately 2300 dialects or sub-dialects. However, its multilingualism has long been controversial in academia, and whether multilingualism exists in the Chinese mainland remains unclear. Multilingualism may be observed in the Chinese mainland, with the promotion of Mandarin and English, and the maintenance of regional dialects in recent years.

The current study aims to explore the multilingual practices in the Chinese mainland through a case study. The following questions are proposed: What are the features of multilingual practices in the Chinese Mainland? What are the factors contributing to language features in the Chinese Mainland? What type of multilingualism does the Chinese Mainland adhere to?

Two-full-day recordings of the participant conversations were made in order to document language. In follow-up interviews, the participant was asked about his intentions to behave as multilingual. Results suggest that features of multilingual practices including interference, borrowing, mixing, and code-switching appear. Social, personal, and conversational factors contribute to the participant’s multilingual practices. The study takes individual multilingualism as a reflective example that also contributes to the interpretation of multilingualism in China.

Keywords: The Chinese Mainland, discourse analysis, language use, multilingual practices, sociolinguistics


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