“Pride” and “profit”: a sociolinguistic profile of the Chinese communities in Britain

Xiao Lan Curdt-Christiansen , Jing Huang

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In this study we explore the ongoing social changes and internal differences within the Chinese communities in Britain with regard to language practices, ethnic and cultural affiliations, and intra-community communications. Drawing on the notions of “pride” and “profit”, we report on how migratory experiences influence the linguistic practices of the Chinese communities. We argue that “pride” and “profit”, as manifested in language practices, are rooted in “prejudice”, a consequence of linguistic hierarchies related to broader socio-historical and socio-political systems. Data sources include ethnographic interviews with 15 stakeholders from three community pillars. The data analysis shows three major differences and changes within the communities: the multi-layered make-up of the Chinese communities whose members come from different countries and regions; the replacement of Cantonese with Putonghua as the communities’ lingua franca; and the increasing visibility of the Chinese communities in mainstream society. The findings suggest that social changes and language practices are associated with the social meanings of belonging, affiliation and reality, involving a form of symbolic struggle filled with “prejudice”. The study emphasises that “pride” and “profit” can make visible and explicit the sources of social inequality that tend to be concealed by neoliberal ideologies and discourses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-72
Number of pages26
JournalInternational Journal of the Sociology of Language
Issue number269
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2021


  • Chinese diasporic communities
  • intra/inter group differences
  • language prejudice
  • language pride
  • language profit
  • social structure


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