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RaciolinguisticsHow Language Shapes Our Ideas About Race$
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H. Samy Alim, John R. Rickford, and Arnetha F. Ball

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190625696

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190625696.001.0001

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The Meaning of Ching-Chong

The Meaning of Ching-Chong

Language, Racism, and Response in New Media

Chapter:
(p.81) 4 The Meaning of Ching-Chong
Source:
Raciolinguistics
Author(s):

Elaine W. Chun

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190625696.003.0005

This chapter draws on linguistic anthropological tools to examine ideologies of racist language in the United States. In particular, it focuses on the expression ching-chong, an onomatopoeic mimicry that represents Asian otherness, as well as responses to this expression’s use in a YouTube video posted by a white college student named Alexandra Wallace. In my analysis of viewer comments responding to this video, I propose two axes of linguistic meaning that informed public interpretations of ching-chong as either racist or nonracist language, namely its locus—where linguistic meaning is located—as well as its temporality—when meaning happens. I then discuss how seven antiracist strategies—eradication, regulation, quotation, euphemism, rehistoricization, reappropriation, and satire—may differently foreground these axes and variably succeed in achieving antiracist goals. I argue that each of these strategies usefully raises public awareness of racist language but necessarily encounters certain pitfalls.

Keywords:   language ideology, racism, antiracism, Asian American, new media, eradication, reappropriation, satire

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