Punning in hong kong chinese media: Forms and functions

Chor Shing David Li, Virginia Costa

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This paper shows that punning (shuangguari) is commonly found in Hong Kong Chinese media, especially adverts. As a rhetorical device and a form of language play, punning - monolingual or bilingual - is generally used to enhance the communicative impact of what is said. Linguistically a punning effect may be achieved through homonymy or (near-) homophony. In the literature published in English, research on punning straddles styiistics and linguistics. With reference to Heller's (1980, 1983) linguistic typology of punning, our analysis of selected examples from Hong Kong Chinese media shows that most instances of punning may be characterized as 'retentional - non-disambiguational' puns. Orthographic puns are very common, in that the punning effect is only apparent in the printed, but not in the spoken medium. Functional shift in the signaling device of the pun is another salient feature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-107
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of Chinese Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Advertising
  • Ambiguity
  • Homonymy
  • Homophony
  • Language play
  • Punning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language


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