Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

New from Oxford University Press!


May I Quote You on That?

By Stephen Spector

A guide to English grammar and usage for the twenty-first century, pairing grammar rules with interesting and humorous quotations from American popular culture.

New from Cambridge University Press!


The Cambridge Handbook of Endangered Languages

Edited By Peter K. Austin and Julia Sallabank

This book "examines the reasons behind the dramatic loss of linguistic diversity, why it matters, and what can be done to document and support endangered languages."

Academic Paper

Title: The Reappropriation of Tongzhi
Author: Andrew D. Wong
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: 2634
Linguistic Field: Sociolinguistics
Abstract: A general address term in Communist China, the Chinese word tongzhi ‘comrade’ was appropriated by gay rights activists in Hong Kong to refer to members of sexual minorities. It has positive connotations of respect, equality, and resistance. This article focuses on the reappropriation of this word by a mainstream newspaper in Hong Kong. The parodic use of tongzhi allows journalists to ridicule gay rights activists so as to increase the entertainment value of news stories. At the same time, it mocks activists' demand for equality and may lead to the pejoration of the term. This study provides synchronic evidence for sociolinguistic accounts that explain how lexical items may undergo pejoration because of the context of their use. It shows that because the meaning potential of a word is not bounded by the intentions of its users, words that marginalized groups have appropriated can be resignified yet again in hateful contexts.


This article appears IN Language in Society Vol. 34, Issue 5, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

Add a new paper
Return to Academic Papers main page
Return to Directory of Linguists main page