Learning Chinese, Turning Chinese

Challenges to Becoming Sinophone in a Globalised World

By Edward McDonald

© 2011 – Routledge

264 pages

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415559423
pub: 2011-02-07
US Dollars$50.95
Hardback: 9780415559416
pub: 2011-02-08
US Dollars$165.00

e–Inspection Copy

About the Book

In this book Edward McDonald takes a fresh look at issues of language in Chinese studies. He takes the viewpoint of the university student of Chinese with the ultimate goal of becoming 'sinophone': that is, developing a fluency and facility at operating in Chinese-language contexts comparable to their own mother tongue. While the entry point for most potential sinophones is the Chinese language classroom, the kinds of "language" and "culture" on offer there are rarely questioned, and the links between the forms of the language and the situations in which they may be used are rarely drawn. The author’s explorations of Chinese studies illustrate the crucial link between becoming sinophone and developing a sinophone identity – learning Chinese and turning Chinese.

Including chapters on:

  • relating text to context in learning Chinese
  • the social and political contexts of language learning
  • myths about Chinese characters
  • language reform and nationalism in modern China
  • critical discourse analysis of popular culture
  • ethnicity and identity in language learning.

This book will be invaluable for all Chinese language students and teachers, and those with an interest in Chinese linguistics, linguistic anthropology, critical discourse analysis, and language education.

Edward McDonald is currently Lecturer in Chinese at the University of Auckland, and has taught Chinese language, music, linguistics and semiotics at universities in Australia, China, and Singapore.


"In the introduction, McDonald argues that much current discourse around Chinese teaching and learning - the 'commonsense' axioms prevalent in Chinese studies today - needs to be problematized and reconsidered. To address this issue, McDonald has produced a response that is both theoretically rich yet generally accessible to a wider audience of students, teachers, and scholars. Speakers of Chinese (sinophones) and especially learners of Chinese will find this book particularly intriguing, given the intersecting linguistic, historical, sociocultural and narrative accounts that are presented. In the larger sense, McDonald has provided a compelling argument about the need to deconstruct the problems and contradictions that are inherent in modern Chinese language programs and textbooks." - Tim Anderson, Chinese Language and Discourse 2:1

"I believe it to be an unusual and timely contribution to the field of Chinese Studies (or Sinology) and one that raises issues that will become increasingly critical as the reach of the “soft power” of the People’s Republic of China seeks to stretch to correspond with that nation’s burgeoning economic and political power." - Duncan M Campbell, The Australian National University; New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies 13, 1 (June 2011)

Table of Contents

Preface: Language in Chinese Studies Part 1: The Great Wall of Chinese Language Teaching 1. Arguing Semantics with a Beijing Taxi Driver: Relating Text and Context in a Chinese Studies Program 2. Gateways to Becoming Sinophone: Traditions and Biases in Chinese Language Textbooks 3. Learning Chinese the Lee Kwan Yew Way: The Social and Political Context of Language Learning Part 2: Drawing Battlelines over Language 4. Character Fetishization: The Modus Operandi of Orientalism in Chinese Studies 5. Ideolatry vs Phonolatry?: Chinese Characters as Disciplinary Identifier 6. Keeping Chinese for the Chinese: The Paradox of Nativised Orientalism in Chinese Linguistics Part 3: Getting Over the Walls of Discourse 7. Construing ‘Metrosexual’ in Chinese: Social and Semiotic Change in the Era of Globalisation 8. Reconstruction vs Deconstruction: Textual Criticism, Social Semiotics, and ‘New Sinology’ 9. From ‘Ed McDonald’ to ‘Ned McHorse’: Negotiating Multiple Identities in a Globalised World

About the Series

Asia's Transformations

The books in this series explore the political, social, economic and cultural consequences of Asia's twenty-first century transformations. The series emphasizes the tumultuous interplay of local, national, regional and global forces as Asia bids to become the hub of the world economy. While focusing on the contemporary, it also looks back to analyze the antecedents of Asia's contested rise. Asia's Transformations aims to address the needs of students and teachers.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General