Little cutie one piece
An innovative human classifier and its social indexicality in Chinese digital culture
This study investigates emerging usages in Chinese cyberspace of the numeral classifier méi that
violate syntactic and semantic conventions of canonical grammar of modern Chinese. We treat these usages as constructional
variants of the canonical classifier construction and show how they afford users of Weibo a device of social indexicality in the
sense of Silverstein (1976, 1985, 2003) and Eckert (2000, 2003, 2008). We argue that the constructional variants facilitate the creation of a cute, chic, playful,
humorous, and youthful online style and that its popularity draws on multiple indexical resources including contrast to canonical
grammar, contemporary language contact with Japanese, influence of the cuteness culture and its commodification, and consumerism
in the digital economy. This study contributes to research on the linguistic construction of identity and style, linguistic
creativity in the new media and digital culture, and usage-based constructionist approaches to language.
Keywords: social indexicality, variation, digital culture, usage-based constructionist approach
Keywords: 社会指向性, 变异, 网络文化, 基于使用的构式理论
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