WeChat is a popular social media application developed in China and designed for the mobile phone. Users may send and receive messages in a variety of systems, including text, emoji, gif files, pictures, and audio messages. They may create messages in one or more languages and code systems, and they may interact asynchronously, or synchronously. Studying how young people in the Pearl River Delta of Macao and Zhuhai construct and communicate such messages on social media is the aim of this study. In particular, I examine code-switching and code-mixing, evident in the use of a variety of texts and codes, including: Standard Chinese, vernacular Cantonese, English, simplified and traditional characters, Emoji, and images. These message forms are analyzed via Bakhtin’s work on speech genres and addressivity. Finally, implications for how such messages may reflect on identity and relationship construction among China’s youth are considered.
Todd Lyle Sandel is Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Macau. He is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, associate editor of The International Encyclopedia of Language and Social Interaction, and author of Brides on Sale: Taiwanese Cross Border Marriages in a Globalizing Asia, for which he received the 2016 Outstanding Book Award from the International & Intercultural Division of the National Communication Association. His research has appeared in Language in Society, Research on Language & Social Interaction, Journal of Intercultural Communication Research, Journal of Contemporary China, China Media Research, and elsewhere.