The Uprising of the Chinese Language in a Technological Age

semiotics, technology, and the order of things

This essay for the inaugural issue of Technology and Language shows how the rise or “uprising“ of technology also produces an upheaval of language in China. This concerns not only the relation of literary language and so-called internet language which is a hybrid of symbols, sounds, images, and text. It also concerns the languages of ethnic minorities as well as the relation of Chinese to English. Not only in academic publishing there is a  shift from the consideration of literary vs. non-literary languages to that of valid vs. invalid ones. It is not the expression of thoughts but the recruitment of an audience that validates writing. These and other changes cannot be described simply as a degradation of language but need to be viewed as an uprising also in terms of a liberation of language.

(Translation by Yingyu Zhu.)