Borrowed identity: Signaling involvement with a Western name

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33 Citations (Scopus)


Western-style English names are very commonly used by Chinese Hongkongers to communicate with Westerners and among themselves. The inventory of traditional Chinese address forms does not favor the quick development of friendship and intimacy, which is somehow crucial in multicultural business transactions. The adoption of a Western name is largely motivated by a preference to switch to a reciprocal first-name address pattern typical of egalitarian interpersonal communication in the West, in order to speed up the process of getting acquainted, both in inter- and intra-cultural encounters. This pragmatic transference may be regarded as a result of bilingualism and biculturalism. Similar patterns and background of innovations in address forms have been noted in many Yoruba-speaking communities in West Africa.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)489-513
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Artificial Intelligence


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