From hǎo to hǒu–stylising online communication with Chinese dialects

Yi Zhang, Wei Ren*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Although a growing body of literature has explored multilingual users’ digital practice, dialects adoptions have received relatively little attention. As an important part of the Chinese language, spoken dialects, or ‘方言’ (fangyan), are highly complex in their classification and colloquial usage. Nevertheless, Chinese online users, especially those of younger generations, find ways to incorporate dialects in stylised online expressions for language play. This study explores the strategic adoptions of dialects by investigating stylised dialectal expressions through a leading video-sharing website in China, By identifying representative Chinese dialectal phrases and phonetic features, the authors coded a total of 1779 instances of dialect-stylised expressions from 159 videos on Further investigation and analysis reveal that the sampled expressions largely reflect the dialectal features found in Northeastern Guanhua, Cantonese, Southwestern Guanhua and Min, representing an overarching representation of some of the large dialectal groups in Chinese Mainland. In addition, various linguistic strategies, such as phonetic transliteration and Romanised letters, were used to facilitate and stylise the digital representations of these spoken dialects. The findings exhibit Bilibili users’ flexible choices of multilingual resources for dialect stylisation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-168
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Multilingualism
Issue number1
Early online date13 Apr 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Apr 2022


  • Chinese
  • Dialect
  • multilingual resource
  • online communication
  • stylisation


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