Zum Inhalt
Zur Navigation

Sociolinguistics Symposium 19: Language and the City

Sociolinguistics Symposium 19

Freie Universität Berlin | August 21-24, 2012

Programme: accepted abstracts

Search for abstracts

Abstract ID: 839

Part of General Poster Session (Other abstracts in this session)

Moving Stories: Narrative Identity of Hong Kong Immigrants to the UK

Authors: van der Bom, Isabelle Agatha Maria
Submitted by: van der Bom, Isabelle Agatha Maria (University of Sheffield, United Kingdom)

The handover of Hong Kong from the British government to Chinese sovereignty in 1997 had widespread ramifications in the political, economical and social sphere. One effect of the handover is the change in people’s perceptions of their identity (Brewer, 1999; Sussman, 2010). This is the case not only for those living in Hong Kong and surrounding territories, but also for Hong Kong immigrants and their families in the United Kingdom.

This poster will present some preliminary findings from a study of the relationship between migration and identity construction among Hong Kong immigrants and their families in the UK. It will focus upon linguistic self-representation in narrative discourse. Data has been collected through ethnographic fieldwork in a complementary Chinese school in Sheffield, England. Drawing on semi-structured interviews and participant observation, I explore how immigrants from Hong Kong and their families negotiate their identity in light of current global fluctuations and the local context of a living in the multi-ethnic city of Sheffield.

This study has two major aims: (a) to research narrative identity of Hong Kong immigrants and their families, and (b) to work towards a more integrated theory of narrative study, which includes sociolinguistics, narratological, and stylistic perspectives. Using a combination of Labov’s and Waletzky’s (1967) approach to narrative with a focus on deixis, and the stylistic framework of Text World Theory (e.g. Gavins 2007; Werth 1994, 1995, 1999), I show how combining methodological perspectives allows for a more detailed understanding of how participants negotiate the different factors that influence identity. In particular, I will focus on the effects of agency and stereotyping.



Gavins, J. (2007a) Text World Theory: An Introduction, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.


Labov, W. and Waletzky, J. (1967) ‘Narrative analysis’, In J. Helm (ed.), Essays on the Verbal and Visual Arts, Seattle: U. of Washington Press, pp. 12-44.


Werth, P. (1994) ‘Extended metaphor: a text world account’, Language and Literature 3 (2): 79-103.


Werth, P. (1995) ‘How to build a world (in a lot less that six days and using only what’s in your head)‟, in K. Green (ed.) New Essays on Deixis: Discourse, Narrative, Literature, Amsterdam: Rodopi, pp. 48-80.


Werth, P. (1999) Text Worlds: Representing Conceptual Space in Discourse, Harlow: Longman.


© 2012, FU Berlin  |  Feedback
Last modified: 2014/3/2