Chinglish as a developing ELF variation. From globalizing perspectives to glocalizing tendencies


Abstract – Since China has emerged first as a global manufacturing hub and gradually as an economic power, Chinese people have adopted English as a lingua franca, namely Chinglish, in their intercultural interactions and transactions. Nevertheless, the investigation of the historical and social context in which Chinglish has evolved will show a controversial relationship of Chinese speakers with their ELF variation. Despite being widespread among users that interact with foreigners for socio-economic reasons, Chinglish is generally considered by political power and Chinese governmental representatives as a primitive and backward language, to be deleted and replaced with a more pure Standard English. In this conflicting perspective, the paper will explore how some pragmalinguistic elements, derived from L1 cognitive schemata, regularly affect the texts spoken and written by Chinese speakers in English. Hence, a number of case studies will illustrate the extent to which Chinese native speakers – acting as ELF users and interacting within a global communicative setting – promptly activate native lexico-grammatical processes, consciously appropriate English language, creatively manipulate it to fulfill pragmatic needs, and, in the meanwhile, preserve L1 cognitive, semantic, rhetorical and socio-cultural dimensions. This would provide further insight not only into the current debate about World Englishes, but also into the challenging and ongoing shaping of intercultural communication in China where innovation and global attitudes constantly conflict with tradition and cultural resistance.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v23p325

Keywords: Chinglish; ELF variations; World Englishes; Linguistic transfers; Intercultural communication


Abbiati M. 1985, Corso Introduttivo di Lingua Cinese Moderna, Libreria Editrice Cafoscarina, Venezia.

Basciano B. 2013, No Kicking of Balls: a Brief Anthology of Chinglish Texts, Tilelli, Scritti in onore di Vermondo Brugnatelli, Caissa Italia.

Crystal D. 1997, English as a Global Language, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Fang X. 2011, Glocalizing ELT: From Chinglish to China English, in “Journal of Language Teaching and Research” 2 [2], pp. 377-381.

Fukunaga S. and Zhang B. 2007, A Comparative Analysis of American and Chinese Political Slogans: A Critical Linguistic Perspective, Department of English Language Teaching, Faculty of Education, Okayama University, 136, pp. 85-92.

Guido M.G. 2008, English as a Lingua Franca in Cross Cultural Domains, Peter Lang, Bern.

Henry E.S. 2010, Interpretation of “Chinglish”: Native Speakers, Language Learners and the Enregisterment of a Stigmatized Code, in “Language in Society” 39 [5], pp. 669-688.

House J. 1999, Misunderstanding in Intercultural Communication: Interactions in English as ‘Lingua Franca’ and the Myth of Mutual Intelligibility, in Gnutzmann C. (ed.), Teaching and Learning English as a Global Language, Tubigen, Stauffenburg, pp. 73-89.

Kachru B. 1992, World Englishes: approaches, issues and resources, in “Language Teaching” 25, pp. 1-14.

Kirkpatrick A. 1991, Information sequencing in Mandarin letters of request, in “Anthropological Linguistics” 33 [2], pp. 183-203.

Kirkpatrick A. and Xu Z. 2002, Chinese Pragmatic Norms and ‘China English’, in “World Englishes” 21 [2], pp. 269-279.

Li W. 1993, China English and Chinglish, in “Foreign Language Teaching and Research Journal” 4, pp. 18-24.

Li W. 2016, New Chinglish and Post-Multilingualism Challege: Translanguaging ELF in China, in “Journal of English as a Lingua Franca” 5 [1], pp. 1-25.

Li Y. 2015, A Study of the Comparison between English and Chinese Text Patterns and the Implications for an English writing Instructions, in “Studies in Literature and Language” 10 [1], pp. 95-97.

Pinkham J. 2000, The translator’s guide to Chinglish, Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press, Beijing.

Radtke O.L. 2007, Chinglish: Found in Translation, Gibbs Smith Publisher, UT.

Searle J.R. 1983, Intentionality: an Essay in the Philosophy of Mind, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Simon-Kennedy K. 2012, Chinglish, in Mair V.H. (ed.), Developments in Chinese Language and Script during the 20th and 21st Centuries, “Sinon Platonic Paper” 224, pp. 6-25.

Wan P. 2005, Comparison of China English with Chinglish, in “Shanghai Journal of Translators” 2, pp. 41-44.

Widdowson H.G. 1997, EIL, ESL, EFL: Global issues and local interests, in “World Englishes” 16 [1], 135-146.

Xu Y.L. 1992, Comparative linguistics, Shanghai Foreign Language Education Press, China.

Zhang L. 2016, Analysis of Chinglish in Chinese-English Translation, International Conference on Education, Management and Computing Technology, Sanmenxia Polytechnic, pp. 901-904.

Full Text: pdf


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.