A Diachronic Study on the Semantic Change of xiaojie Essay

A Diachronic Study on the Semantic Change of “xiaojie” BY mtchelle728 A Diachronic Study on the Semantic Change of “xiaoJie” Abstract: As a necessary word in social communication, xiaoJie has always been closely observed by many scholars and professors, and this paper focus on its semantic change and usage. The word xiaoJie, so far from its first appear in Song dynasty, its semantic meaning has changed a lot. The whole paper is studying the term of address from a diachronic view, trying to analyze the cause for its semantic changes with linguistic theory.

Through the analysis,we find that the semantic evelopment of the characteristics of language development and the change of society under certain social culture and political history background. To accord with the demands of the economic mirror of the breakthrough of the traditional ethics which has existed for thousands of years, and truly reflect change and liberation of conception as well as transformation of social value in the new period of time. Key words: “xiaoJie”, semantic change, language and society, address forms ft-H-%+, Part One Introduction 1. Goal of the study As a term of address, “xiaoJie” experienced more than 1000 years of history being sed among Chinese people from different walks of life or social classes since the Song dynasty. It is still frequently used as general respectful forms of address for young ladies till nowadays. However, the semantic meaning of “xiaoJie” pejorates and a storm of argument has been aroused about the intensifying contradiction between groups of users as well as the addressees of the term “xiaoJie” , seeking for certain way out to avoid being misaddressed as prostitutes.

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Some suspect the use of replacement or its so-called equivalent one day will take the place of “xiaoJie” to be a eneral respect form for young females. Others hold that more patience is needed to just stay dry from the phenomenon until time cures all ailment. According to Ralph Fasold, the author of The Sociolinguistics of Language (1990:6), perhaps the most obvious point where social factors influence language is in the selection of address forms.

Dai (2000) also pointed out when reviewing the progress in sociolinguistics in China in the past 5 years and forecasting the main tasks of sociolinguistics in the coming 5 years that the study on terms of address is an important task among all the tasks. So either for the realistic demands or for the linguistic tasks, relative studies should be spread on to demonstrate the semantic changes of “xiaoJie”, clarify the linguistic problems and try to come up with a way to terminate the confusion.

The goals are to exert latest findings of social linguists on semantic changes into problems found in daily life and enrich studies on semantic change of”xiaoJie”. 1. 2 Methods of the study There has been growing interest in exploring systematicities in semantic change from a number of perspectives including theories of metaphor,pragmatic inference, nd grammaticalization in China recently. Like other studies, this study has for the most part been based on data taken out of context. Corpus is important resources for knowledge acquisition in this study. The analysis is all from huge pool of historical Corpus and Modern Chinese Language Corpus.

Also, useful informations are collected from Google research an d CNKI data base. 1. 3 Thesis organization The thesis is composed of five parts. The first part is the abstract of the theme of the paper in both English and Chinese version and an introduction of the goal, the studying method and the framework of the paper. The main contents of the thesis virtually begin with the second part, which is about the lexicology and etymology of the Chinese word “xiaoJie” as a basic understanding of what “xiaoJie” being a popular address forms is from three major developing period, i. . The origin, the semantic change in ancient as well as in modern time.. The third part sheds light on the causes of the semantic changes of “xiaoJie” combined history with social background. Both internal and external cause are put into the consideration this paper is to make a study of the mechanism of semantic change time rather than ust treating them as simply reflecting external social economic and cultural changes and indexing existing social relations. Part four serves as the conclusion of the whole research.

It sums up all the results and gives a general discussion. Part five is the bibliography. Part TWO etymology and lexicology of “xiaoJie” 2. 1 Origin of”xiaoJie” “XiaoJie” titles can be traced back to the earliest dynasties period. It is used even much earlier as in West Han dynasty. The first emergence of”xiaoJie”as a term of address in Chinese written literature was found in Song Dynasty in the historical materials available. In ancient China, the earliest appearance and it is Just address form, with neither commendatory nor derogatory sense.

It is the Sichuan dialect, and means”mother”in Shuo Wen Jie Z’, an old authentic Chinese dictionary. During Wet, Jin, and Tang dynasty, its semantic connotation gradually turned into derogatory sense. From the song dynasty, “xiao” stared to add in front of”Jie”. In that to female folk entertainers on street,the maid, and waitress and in general refer to the group of young female from inferior social classes. Qian Weiyin of the Song dynasty in his Yu Tang Feng Chen Lu (in

Chinese, ) has mentioned “there is Han xiaoJie in charge of tea and drinking among aulic service people”, obviously it is referred to the waitress in the imperial palace. In Tao Zhu Xin Lu (in Chinese, ) and other books, there are concubines or female singers of the officials and eunuch’s families being called”xiaoJie”; in ancient times, folk actors are being looked down upon, female folk actress were called “xiaoJie”, for example, in Hong of the Song dynastys Yi Jian Zhi (in Chinese ) , a singer whose family name is Lin was named as”Lin xiaoJie”.

In Long Song Yuan Language two meaning entries: 1) ddress for slave girl and concubine. Besides quoting Yu Tang Feng Chen Lu, it cited the example in Tao Zhu Xin Lu”The historical department official has a servant singer called xiaoJie, weak and sickliness and the example of the 6th volume of Cheng Shi”Gong has a concubine raise the silkworm,weave and work”. Also Zhou (2006) mentioned in his book The Cultural Connotation of Words social position. He also mentioned that in ancient times,folk actors were despised and folk actresses were 2. Semantic change of “xiaoJie” in ancient times After Yuan to be the respectful term of address for nmarried young girls of the economically rich families or the officials’ families. There are many evidences in Yuan drama for that. The address was for the young girl of rich family, some keep the address after married also. It has cited words in dramas in Chinese ). Zhu of Ming dynasty in his poem Yuan Gong like Xi XiangJi ( Ci (in Chinese) has a very poetic description: lian qian san cun gong xie lou, Zhi shi lat. The 3 inch shoes uncovered before the window, it is known that the beautiful lady is coming.

Till the Qing to refer to young girls or young ladies of the ealthy family or families have imperial titles and the governmental official’s family. It is easy to find from Dream in the Red Mansion that Jia Zhengs daughters were called”da xiaoJie”, “er xiaoJie”, “san xiaoJie”. Long time after that until the foundation of the new China government in 1949, the connotation of”xiaoJie”were always been the decent girls of the big family names which enjoy higher social position and fames, either influential in economy, politics or gain people’s respects through behavior or contribution.

In fact it became a symbol of position and identity in social ctivities. 2. 3 Semantic change of “xiaoJie” in modern times With the founding of the New China Government in 1949, by the communist party and the vast mass of party members and Chinese people, the uniform terms of address”tongzhi”(comrade) drove off terms of addresses with social classes with”xiansheng”among the likes were rejected abruptly.

From the founding of the New China in1949, with the establishment of the new political system,”xiaoJie”was used as taboo for people’s sensitivity to feelings of political class,because in the traditional concept of the synonym of the ampered”love ease and hate work”young woman from the bourgeois class, during this period, the address form”xiaoJie”was used in derogatory sense. After the resistance of the whole society since 1949 to the rejuvenation with China’s reform and opening-up policy, “xiaoJie” gradually gets acceptable under the current of globalization.

Till now, “xiaoJie” comes back and becomes the general address from of common woman. Checking the Modern Chinese Dictionary (Yang, 2004), xi?¤oJi?© is explained as: (1) respect address term, used after an unmarried female or young girl (2): young girl. In xh. 5161edu. com, it is in the past as a respect term for unmarried young female: general term for young female, use for intercommunication activities; in another online dictionary Han Dian zdic. net, it is described as (1) [Miss] : honorific title, use after the name of an unmarried female or young girl (2) [young lady].

As for the Degeneration(peJoration)of”xiaoJie”, in degeneration (often called pejoraton), the sense of word takes on a less positive,more negative evaluation in the minds of the value of the language??”an increasing negative value Judgment. In contemporary Chinese society, “xiaoJie” is special address form with more than one semantic connotation. Its derogatory sense and commendatory sense coexist. “XiaoJie” is certain context. Compared to semantic connotation of”xiaoJie”in the time of 1980s, the semantic change of”xiaoJie”during this time is a typical example of pejoration.

Part THREE Theoretical Explanation for Cause of Semantic Changes of “xiaoJie” 3. 1 Causes for semantic change Words are always changing their meanings, and not always in the drastic way. Change is often more subtle,more gradual and less easily explained. Semantic hange appears irregular, chaotic even, because it’s closely tied to changing social values, politics, technology and culture. In diachronic (or historical) linguistics, a change in one of the meanings of a word is termed as semantic change.

Every word has a variety of senses and connotation which can be added, removed, or altered over time, often words of one time period mean quite different to the same words as spoken in a previous time. Perhaps because forms of address are frequent and easily observed, and because they have long been considered a very salient indicator of tatus relationships, they received considerable attention in scholarly literature. (Yang, 2004) As J. B. Pride, an American sociolinguist describes the relationship between language and society in his book Sociolinguistics: Language, as a social phenomenon, may change when changes take place in social life.

Since the knowledge and beliefs that constitute a people’s culture are habitually encoded and transmitted in the language of the people, it is extremely difficult to separate the two. On the one hand,language as an integral part of human being, permeates his thinking and way of viewing the world,language both expresses and embodies ulture reality. On the other hand,language, as a product of culture,helps perpetuate the culture,and the changes in language uses reflect the cultural changes in return. (Wang, 2006) 3. Causes for semantic change of “xiaoJie” In the initial semantic stage of”xiaoJie”, it is refer to concubine, entertainer and prostitutes such low social statue woman, then”xiaoJie”is used to refer to young unmarried woman in rich family from Yuan to Qing dynasty, Through this process, the original semantic features (wealth, age, unmarried, female) developed into widely used semantic features of nowadays. Age, unmarried, female), and the feature of gender is fixed, and the age, wealth and martial status have obviously weakened.

These semantic changes reflect the era of change, and conform to the economic principle of language. In contemporary society, it is not accidental that the address form “xiaoJie” has become an elegant address form and a term with certain respect, and its generalization also become a social fashion. It obviously has certain social cultural background and linguistics causes for this change. 1) With the increasing international exchanges and the integration of western and Chinese civilization, and he Chinese civilization, as one of universal accepted address terms which include Mr. “xiansheng”)in verbal communication, for its updates, aesthetic and elegant refined semantic characteristic, “xiaoJie” gradually come into the Chinese culture,and been widely used titles in communication in the 1990s of Chinese society. 2) In the past 20 years of China’s reform and opening-up, a new generation of young women became more and more actively engaged in the groups,it forces people to use a suitable and appropriate title to address them. 3) From the perspective of Chinese language system itself, in the Chinese address form ystem, age is an important factor.

Men tend to pride themselves on their seniorities, while for women, they desire youth and beauty, “xiaoJie” the semantic features Just satisfy this demand. As for the gender factor, “xiaoJie” match with “sir” and “Mr. ” Therefore, for”xiaoJie” ‘s elegant and refined semantic features, the whole society accept it as a widely used address form for female. “XiaoJie” has different semantic connotation in different context. Its general trends of semantic development are from the concrete to the general, from referring to the general, which conform to the rule f the semantic development.

Through this process, “xiaoJie” has gradually turned into the address form refer to common people. Its age range becomes wider. And its semantic scope is generalized, from a narrow to broaden, from the concrete to the general. Part four conclusion The whole paper is studying the term of address from a diachronic view, trying to analyze the cause for its semantic changes with theory. xiaoJie’s semantic change can be concluded that it has mainly experienced semantic amelioration, semantic extension, semantic narrowing, and semantic pejoration, which has sensitively eflected the social cultural change of a society.

Through the above analysis,we find that the semantic development of the characteristics of language development and the change of society under certain social culture and political history background. To accord with the demands of the economic mirror of the breakthrough of the traditional ethics which has existed for thousands of years, and truly reflect change and liberation of conception as well as transformation of social value in the new period of a polite address in verbal communication,it conforms to the historical trend of the times and satisfy the eed of communication.

Part five bibliography 1. Fang,H. Q. &J. Heng. 1983. Social Changes and Changing Chinese Address Norms in China. Language in 2. Appellative(ln Chinese). xtnmtn He,H. 2007. 1nquire the Change Mode of Semantic Meaning from the Change of Address Term Chinese). Modern Chinese. (fi?¦, nif, E. Jtn,M. L. 2005. Social Linguistics and English learning(ln Chinese). TianJin: Nankai University generalization of the address term”xiaoJie”and Other(ln Chinese). Journal of Guilin City Education ?¦l NE) 6. Wong,A. 2008. On the actuation of semantic change:The case of tongzhi.

Language Sciences. 2008,vol. 30,n04,pp. 423-449 7. Zhang,Y. 2006. The Semantic Change of the Chinese). Rhetoric Study,second edition. (SK 8. Dong,Y. &A. Niu. 2006. The common social titles in Chinese and their diachronic changes(ln Chinese). JOURNAL OF 9. ca0X. 2000. A Dream of Red Mansions. Translated by Yang Xianyi, Beijing: Foreign language teaching and research press. 10. Chen. L. 2000. WhV’xiaoJie”is disfavored? (In Chinese)Hangzhou Daily. (N 11. Ch’ien,c. 2003. Fortress Besieged. Translated by Kelly&Nathan K. Mao, Beijing:Foreign language teaching and research press.


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