‘You are in Taiwan, Speak Chinese’: Identity, language ideology, and sociolinguistic scales in online interaction

Wan Hsin Lee, Hsi Yao Su*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates how local identities of Taiwan are discursively constructed and how language ideologies concerning Chinese and English are manifested in the process in online discussion. We examine dynamics of identity work by drawing from metapragmatic discourse on social media regarding a verbal confrontation in Taiwan. A local Taiwanese driver with limited English competence was verbally attacked in English by an American-born-Taiwanese passenger. This passenger's nationality, ethnicity, and controversial linguistic performance lead to heated identity debates online. We look into the role language plays in these online debates and explore how social media serve as an important site for ideological contestation and identity construction. Specifically, we discuss (1) how viewers discursively construct this American-born-Taiwanese as an outgroup member through pronouns and identity labels, such as Taiwanese and ABC, (2) how his (presumed) competence in English or Chinese plays a critical role in deauthenticating him either as a ‘real’ Taiwanese or as a ‘real’ American, and (3) how various language ideologies are manifested through the aforementioned process of identity construction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100339
JournalDiscourse, Context and Media
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Dec


  • Identity
  • Indexicality
  • Language attitudes
  • Language ideology
  • Metapragmatics
  • Social media
  • Sociolinguistic scale
  • Stancetaking
  • Taiwan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication


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