The term ‘leftover women’, commonly referring to single women older than 27, has been in popular use in Chinese media since 2007. This study investigates how leftover women are linguistically represented in the English-language news media in China by employing a corpus-assisted approach to critical discourse analysis. A specialised corpus of 303 English news articles (i.e. 236,254 words), covering the years between 2007 and 2017, was built for this purpose. Corpus linguistics techniques were employed to quantify the meaning shift units (MSUs) of the lemma leftover WOMAN, and van Leeuwen’s ‘social actors and actions theory’ was applied to inform the classification of MSUs in context. These findings shed light on media representations of leftover women, the contested ideologies emerging from these representations, and how shifting gender politics and identity shapes and is shaped by media in the world’s most populous nation.
- leftover women
- media representations
- corpus-assisted critical discourse analysis
- gender ideologies