Bilingual creativity in Chinese English: Ha Jin’s In the Pond

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Abstract

This paper addresses issues related to bilingual creativity in Chinese English and their implications for world Englishes in the Chinese context. The language examined in this paper is drawn from Ha Jin’s novella, In the Pond, in which the author’s use of English is ‘nativized’ to the Chinese context in order to recast the cultural meanings of the language. Rooted in social realism, cultural authenticity, and historical accuracy, Ha Jin describes the lives of ordinary people against the larger political backdrop of China. His skilful use of English successfully transcreates his native Chinese experience to form an indigenized narrative style. In this paper, I employ a theoretical framework derived from Kachru (1982, 1986, etc.) to show how Ha Jin’s work expresses a distinct Chinese cultural identity. Ha Jin’s use of creative innovations in English reflect the texture of Chinese ideological, political and socio–cultural representations. The linguistic exponents of such creativity range from the use of address terms, curse words, to metaphors, proverbs, political expressions, and other aspects of the contemporary Chinese lexicon. Despite a central concern with universal themes in his fiction, Ha Jin simultaneously conveys a distinct sense of ‘Chineseness’ through the use of nativized discourse patterns, rhetorical strategies, speech acts, and a range of other linguistic devices.

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