What does it mean to be a girl with qizhi? Refinement, gender and language ideologies in contemporary Taiwan

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This study investigates the relationship between ideologies of language and gender as manifested through sociolinguistic interviews conducted on college campuses in Taiwan. The interviews consistently and systematically revealed the use of a term, qizhi -roughly equivalent to 'refined disposition.' This paper examines the implications of this preoccupation. Through an examination of the contextual use of qizhi, this study shows that, first, qizhi is commonly associated with a range of social practices, among which linguistic practices play a significant role. Second, qizhi is often used to describe, evaluate, and further regulate women's ways of speaking, although its use is not gender exclusive. Third, common linguistic varieties in Taiwan, such as Mandarin, Taiwanese, and Taiwanese-accented Mandarin, are associated with qizhi to varying degrees. This study demonstrates how talk centered on qizhi serves as a meeting ground of social evaluation, linguistic and discursive practices, gender ideologies, and language ideologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-358
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Sociolinguistics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008 Jun 1



  • Chinese
  • Gender
  • Language ideology
  • Refinement
  • Sociolinguistics
  • Taiwan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Philosophy
  • Linguistics and Language
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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