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The Semantics of Human Interaction in Chinese E-Communication

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DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-773-2.ch028
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Tien, Adrian. "The Semantics of Human Interaction in Chinese E-Communication." Handbook of Research on Discourse Behavior and Digital Communication: Language Structures and Social Interaction. IGI Global, 2010. 437-467. Web. 21 Oct. 2014. doi:10.4018/978-1-61520-773-2.ch028


Tien, A. (2010). The Semantics of Human Interaction in Chinese E-Communication. In R. Taiwo (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Discourse Behavior and Digital Communication: Language Structures and Social Interaction (pp. 437-467). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference. doi:10.4018/978-1-61520-773-2.ch028


Tien, Adrian. "The Semantics of Human Interaction in Chinese E-Communication." In Handbook of Research on Discourse Behavior and Digital Communication: Language Structures and Social Interaction, ed. Rotimi Taiwo, 437-467 (2010), accessed October 21, 2014. doi:10.4018/978-1-61520-773-2.ch028

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The current study investigated typical, everyday Chinese interaction online and examined what linguistic meanings arise from this form of communication – not only semantic but also, importantly, pragmatic, discursive, contextual and lexical meanings etc. In particular, it set out to ascertain whether at least some of the cultural values and norms etc. known to exist in Chinese culture, as reflected in the Chinese language, are maintained or preserved in modern Chinese e-communication. To do all this, the author collected a sample set of data from Chinese online resources found in Singapore, including a range of blog sites and MSN chat rooms where interactants have kept their identities anonymous. A radically semantic approach was adopted – namely, the Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) model – to analyze meanings that arose from the data. The analyses were presented and compiled in the way of “cultural cyberscripts” – based on an NSM analytical method called “cultural scripts”. Through these cyberscripts, findings indicated that, while this form of e-communication does exhibit some departure from conventional socio-cultural values and norms, something remains linguistically and culturally Chinese that is unique to Chinese interaction online.
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Wierzbicka (1991: 1) began her influential book with the statement that “language…is a tool of human interaction. [There are] various kinds of meanings which can be conveyed in language... – meanings which involve the interaction between the speaker and the hearer”. This statement is testament to the fact that linguists no less semanticists are greatly interested in human social interaction and discourse behavior. While there is ample research into everyday human interactions in Chinese Mandarin (‘Chinese’ hereafter), comparatively little has been discussed in everyday human interactions through computer-mediated communication (CMC hereafter) or e-communication in Chinese, even less different kinds of meanings that get conveyed between speakers and hearers in Chinese e-communication (e.g. pragmatic meanings, discursive meanings, contextual meanings, lexical meanings etc.). Having said this, there is no valid reason for putting off a discussion on the current trends and issues in everyday Chinese e-communication, since, after all, millions of users of Chinese have become increasingly dependent on modern technology through electronic means in an attempt to communicate with each other and to express their ideas and thoughts, meanings and even emotions etc.

This chapter presents some preliminary findings from human interaction and the kinds of meanings that it conveys in everyday Chinese e-communication, as reflected by Chinese CMC in Singapore, with the main impetus being finding out whether certain cultural norms, values and practices can (or cannot) be and are (or are not) attested/preserved in everyday electronic discourse behavior and e-communication. To be precise, using concepts guanxi lit. ‘network(ing), connection, relationship’, xiao wo ‘the smaller self’, da wo ‘the greater self’, shu ren ‘an old acquaintance’, sheng ren ‘a stranger’, ziji ren ‘an insider’, wai ren ‘an outsider’ and mian zi ‘face’ as a benchmark, it can be established whether certain Chinese cultural norms, values and practices encapsulated in these concepts have been preserved (or not) in Chinese CMC.


Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Bernd Kortmann
Chapter 1
Clare Lloyd, Patricia Gillard
This chapter investigates the use of mobile phones in Australia by 18 to 35 year olds in the Hunter region; more particularly how the social... Sample PDF
Discursive Practices and Creation of Identity Using the Mobile Phone
Chapter 2
Charley Rowe
In many workplaces, social relations such as hierarchy may be uniquely indexed and performed in the email environment. In order to study this... Sample PDF
Status and Email Construction in Three Hong Kong Workplaces
Chapter 3
Mariza Georgalou
It has been argued that social network sites (SNSs) constitute a cultural arena which gives rise to the processes of self-presentation, impression... Sample PDF
"Pathfinding" Discourses of Self in Social Network Sites
Chapter 4
Anupam Das
This study investigates what interlocutors do when they exchange messages on the social network site (SNS) Orkut® and how they do it. In so doing... Sample PDF
Social Interaction Process Analysis of Bengalis' on Orkut®
Chapter 5
Sarah Pedersen, Janet Smithson
Recent studies have shown that British women, especially mothers of young children, spend a particularly large amount of time online. Many are... Sample PDF
Membership and Activity in an Online Parenting Community
Chapter 6
Muhammad Shaban Rafi
The chapter aims to observe sociolinguistic aspects of SMS with a view to identifying gender boundaries. Ever growing text-based communication... Sample PDF
The Sociolinguistics of SMS Ways to Identify Gender Boundaries
Chapter 7
Innocent Chiluwa
As communication by the electronic mail spreads and becomes increasingly common, more and more people are taking the advantage of its flexibility... Sample PDF
Discursive Practice and the Nigerian Identity in Personal Emails
Chapter 8
Eric A. Anchimbe
The chapter illustrates how Cameroonians living in the diaspora discursively construct their identity as anglophones, i.e., as coming from the... Sample PDF
Constructing a Diaspora Anglophone Cameroonian Identity Online
Chapter 9
Kristy Beers Fägersten, Elin Holmsten, Una Cunningham
This chapter presents an analysis of recordings of workplace interactions conducted with videoconferencing software. Video-conferencing offers users... Sample PDF
Multimodal Communication and Meta-Modal Discourse
Chapter 10
Martin Paviour-Smith
This chapter examines the discourse of dating advertisements on a small-scale dating site, I analyse the deployment of linguistic... Sample PDF
‘Masculine Normal Guy Here' – Lonely Hearts and ‘Normal' Gays in Cyberspace
Chapter 11
Rotimi Taiwo
This chapter examines language mixing in two text-based asynchronous modes – internet forums and text messages. While the latter is limited in... Sample PDF
The Dynamics of Language Mixing in Nigerian Digital Communication
Chapter 12
Najma Al Zidjaly
This chapter explores, from a sociolinguistic perspective, the role that the Internet plays in the online discursive construction of the Islamic... Sample PDF
Intertextuality and Constructing Islamic Identities Online
Chapter 13
Tunde Onadeko
The main preoccupation of this paper is the examination of language used in computer-mediated discourse and the extent to which it mirrors the... Sample PDF
Gender Consciousness in Computer-Mediated Discourse in Nigeria
Chapter 14
Sue Sherratt, William Sher, Anthony Williams, Rod Gameson
Construction design involves communication and interaction between individuals and groups in complex social settings. Therefore, the social... Sample PDF
Communication in Construction Design Teams: Moving into the Virtual World
Chapter 15
Humor and Play in CMC  (pages 235-251)
Ilona Vandergriff
This chapter summarizes the growing body of research on humor and play in computer-mediated communication (CMC) from disciplines such as psychology... Sample PDF
Humor and Play in CMC
Chapter 16
Susana M. Sotillo
This study focuses on the predicate-argument structure of frequently used lexical verbs in the text messages of members of five SMS social networks.... Sample PDF
SMS Texting Practices and Communicative Intention
Chapter 17
Chat Discourse  (pages 266-280)
Cláudia Silva
In this chapter, the author characterizes the language that appears in one form of computer mediated communication: real-time casual chats. It is... Sample PDF
Chat Discourse
Chapter 18
John Newman, Laura Teddiman
It is well-known that first person pronouns have a particularly important role to play in conversation. “Online diary” style of writing is less well... Sample PDF
First Person Pronouns in Online Diary Writing
Chapter 19
Christine I. Ofulue
One of the significant implications of digital communication is the receipt of unsolicited emails. Several such mails share common features which... Sample PDF
A Digital Forensic Analysis of Advance Fee Fraud (419 Scams)
Chapter 20
Online Orthographies  (pages 318-334)
Christiana Themistocleous
The representation in online environments of non-Roman-based script languages has proved problematic. During the initial years of Computer-mediated... Sample PDF
Online Orthographies
Chapter 21
Yasemin Kirkgöz
Communication by electronic mail has become a widely used medium within various organizations. Yet, the possible emergence of various discourse... Sample PDF
Analyzing the Discourse of E-mail Communication
Chapter 22
Akinmade Timothy Akande, Olayiwola Timothy Akinwale
The sociolinguistic functions that text messaging plays in Nigeria cannot be over-emphasized. This chapter not only highlights the functions of text... Sample PDF
Spelling Practices in Text Messaging
Chapter 23
Arlette Huguenin Dumittan
The internet has created numerous new text types. This development has not left the field of journalistic publications unaffected. The following... Sample PDF
Hyperjournalism for the Hyperreader
Chapter 24
Foluke Olayinka
This chapter analyses the thematic organization of the instruction to authors’ section of selected online academic scientific journals’ sites.... Sample PDF
Thematic Organization and the Analysis of Selected Online Academic Scientific Journals' Site
Chapter 25
Asha Kaul, Vaibhavi Kulkarni
This study extended recent attempts at analyzing and comprehending gender differences in emails with respect to cooperation and politeness in the... Sample PDF
Gender and Politeness in Indian Emails
Chapter 26
Francisco Yus
In this chapter the author analyzes, from a cognitive pragmatics point of view and, more specifically, from a relevance-theoretic approach, the way... Sample PDF
Users' Relevance on the Web
Chapter 27
Moji Olateju, Oluwabunmi Adeleke
This chapter attempts to examine the inferences in the discourse comprehension of electronic mail which has become one of the fastest means of... Sample PDF
Inferences in Discourse Comprehension of E-Mails
Chapter 28
Adrian Tien
The current study investigated typical, everyday Chinese interaction online and examined what linguistic meanings arise from this form of... Sample PDF
The Semantics of Human Interaction in Chinese E-Communication
Chapter 29
Akin Odebunmi, Moses A. Alo
The chapter investigates the assumptions that academics in two universities in Southwestern Nigeria (namely, University of Ibadan- a federal... Sample PDF
Beliefs in GSM Text Messaging Among Academics in two Nigerian Universities
Chapter 30
Hadina Habil
Email communication has been the communication medium for most organizations nowadays as the Internet has become a way of life for most people. To... Sample PDF
Functions and Strategies of Email Communication at the Workplace
Chapter 31
Ibrahim Esan Olaosun
In contemporary world, visual communication is fast growing in importance. In the internet, computer, digital media, Artificial Intelligent... Sample PDF
Visualization of Communication in Some Mobile Phone Directory and Call Log Icons
Chapter 32
Anders Kofod-Petersen, Rebekah Wegener
Location-aware social network services are set to be the next generation of social networking services. These services typically allow users to send... Sample PDF
Like a Poke on Facebook Emergent Semantics in Location-Aware Social Network Services
Chapter 33
Oladele Abiodun Balogun
The wave of the current unprecedented advancements in Information and Communication Technology, which spread in Nigeria, nay Africa is becoming... Sample PDF
An Analytico-Philosophical Discourse to the Pragmatic Approach to Digital Communication in Nigeria
Chapter 34
Tracy R. LeBlanc
The aim of this chapter is to account for linguistic strategies of breaking into a virtual speech community, particularly the community the author... Sample PDF
Impoliteness as a Model for Virtual Speech Community Building
Chapter 35
Pilar Garcés-Conejos Blitvich
This aim of this chapter is to relate deindividuation to impoliteness and impoliteness to polarization. To that effect, sequences extracted from the... Sample PDF
The YouTubification of Politics, Impoliteness and Polarization
Chapter 36
Fúnmi O. Olúbòdé-Sàwè
This chapter looks at how the demands of modern day discourse behavior may impact upon and/or transform the use of indigenous African languages, as... Sample PDF
Digital Communication in Indigenous Languages
Chapter 37
Boyd H. Davis, Mary K. Smith, Shu-Chiao Tsai
This discussion reviews discourse in three sets of data drawn from online forums for nursing, applied linguistics and nursing assistant courses.... Sample PDF
When the Online Conversation is Prompted
Chapter 38
Amelia AMaria Cava
In the academic field abstract is the first genre that students need to become familiar with. Abstracts have been investigated on structure and... Sample PDF
A Corpus-Based Approach to Teaching English in Abstracts
Chapter 39
Taiwo Soneye
This study examines the emerging phenomena in Nigerian oral English pedagogy in the light of recent developments in Computer Mediated Communication... Sample PDF
Traditional and Virtual in Nigerian Oral English Pedagogy
Chapter 40
Chaka Chaka
This chapter characterises the evolution of computer-mediated communication (CMC) technologies into social participation technologies (SPTs). With... Sample PDF
From CMC Technologies to Social Participation Technologies
Chapter 41
Kehinde A. Ayoola
This chapter is a presentation of a continuing professional development (CPD) programme for English teachers and teacher-trainers in Nigeria using... Sample PDF
An Appraisal of a Computer-Based Continuing Professional Development (CPD) Course for Nigerian English Teachers and Teacher-trainers
Chapter 42
Caroline M L Ho
This chapter focuses on participant engagement in an immersive virtual environment among a group of Singaporean teenagers in the context of the... Sample PDF
Engagement in the Second Life Virtual World with Students
Chapter 43
Titi Fola-Adebayo
This chapter presents an exploratory study on students’ evaluation of a MOODLE teaching and learning resource (the Wiki in this case) in the Federal... Sample PDF
Students' Evaluation of a MOODLE Resource in the Federal University of Technology, Akure, Nigeria
Chapter 44
Rahma Al-Mahrooqi, Victoria Tuzlukova
Responding to the call for research to investigate the technological, linguistic and socio-cultural aspects pertaining to the use of the internet in... Sample PDF
The Influence of the Cultural and Linguistic Orientations of Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) Students on Their Responses to Literatures on the Internet
Chapter 45
Olushola B. Are
This chapter reports a research that attempted to identify attitudes and responses to online reading and learning among people in a typical... Sample PDF
Attitudes to Online Reading and Web-Based Instructions in Developing Societies
Chapter 46
Alison Nagel, Kai Woodfin
This chapter presents the results of a blended learning course in writing instruction piloted at the University of Freiburg for undergraduate... Sample PDF
Second Language Writing Instruction through Blended Learning: Report on a Pilot Course at the University of Freiburg for Undergraduate Students of English
Chapter 47
Artemio Ramirez, Kellie E. Palazzolo, Matthew W. Savage
This chapter focuses cyberbullying, or bullying messages that are transmitted via electronic technologies. This chapter synthesizes research... Sample PDF
New Directions in Understanding Cyberbullying
Chapter 48
Victoria Tuzlukova, Irina Rozina
This chapter considers virtual research community as a socio-cultural phenomenon and a new type of social computer-mediated interactions that... Sample PDF
Virtual Research Communities: From International Patterns to Local Implementations
Chapter 49
Christina Howell-Richardson
A co-operative learning task relies on the mutual interdependence of group members to achieve their task goal. Where the task involves conceptual... Sample PDF
A Pragmatic Approach to Analysing CMC Discourse
Chapter 50
David A. Morand
This conceptual chapter draws on the sociolinguistic theory of politeness, showing how politeness provides a robust theoretical and empirical... Sample PDF
Politeness as a Theoretical and Empirical Framework for Studying Relational Communication in Computer-mediated Contexts
Chapter 51
Guo-Ming Chen, Kai Zhang
New media has been the main force accelerating the development of globalizing society in the last two decades. With its digital, convergent... Sample PDF
New Media and Cultural Identity in the Global Society
Chapter 52
Eleonora Brivio, Francesca Cilento Ibarra, Carlo Galimberti
Recently a change of perspective took place in online interaction research, shifting attention from technologies to what people actually do online.... Sample PDF
An Integrated Approach to Interactions in Cyberplaces: The Presentation of Self in Blogs
Chapter 53
Erika Darics
Based on close examinations of instant message (IM) interactions, this chapter argues that an interactional sociolinguistic approach to... Sample PDF
Relational Work in Synchronous Text-Based CMC of Virtual Teams
Chapter 54
Gabriele Bechtel
This chapter discusses a phenomenon frequently observed in online discussions: “hard-to-discuss” topics. Using Bakhtin’s concepts of monologue and... Sample PDF
Tracing the Non-Debatable Topic in Online Discussion
Chapter 55
Elke Hentschel
Chats, blogs, mailing lists, personal e-mails or texts that can be found on homepages, in short all kinds of computer-mediated communication, offer... Sample PDF
Using CMC in order to investigate the language system
Chapter 56
Tunji Odejobi, Tunde Adegbola
The computational and engineering issues surrounding the development of computer-mediated communication (CMC) technologies for supporting African... Sample PDF
Computational and Engineering Issues in Human Computer Interaction Systems for Supporting Communication in African Languages

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cultural Script: Using the NSM of semantic and lexical universals to formulate cultural norms, values, and practices in a way that is clear and precise to both cultural insiders and outsiders).

Semantics: is the study of linguistic meanings

Socio-cultural Interaction: How people interact with one another socially and culturally

Discourse and Pragmatics: is the study of human interaction and language use in speech and conversation.

Cross-Cultural Communication: means communication between speakers of different languages and cultures.

Language and Culture: Links and interplay between language and culture.

Digital/Electronic communication: is communication via electronic means, namely the computer and the internet.

Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM): A reductive method of semantically complex linguistic meanings, using a set of 60 or so semantically primitive concepts which are also lexically universals

Chinese Linguistics: The study of Chinese language