WP56 The enregisterment of Putonghua in practice



This paper explores Putonghua enregisterment as a supra-local linguistic standard through daily discursive practice of its speakers. Drawing on ethnographic data including observation, interview and documentation, I discuss the emergence and spread of Putonghua as a prestige register of spoken as well as written Chinese, and its indexical values associated with speaker attributes such as social status and education backgrounds. I argue that the standardization of Putonghua is a deliberate institutional practice closely related to the making of the nation; it is however, part of a more general and more tacit enregistering process ? an ideological process through which the symbolic dominance of Putonghua is accepted as natural and normative.
Key words: Enregisterment; Putonghua; Symbolic power; Indexicality; Legitimate language.