Borrowed language and identity practices in a linguistic marketplace: A discourse analytic study of Chinese doctors’ journey online

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)


This article examines online identity practices of Chinese doctors mediated through borrowed linguistic resources in a leading medical app. Setting against rapid societal changes in China which open up traditionally ‘powerful’ professions to market competition, and the development of a booming digital economy, this app and its semiotic work drawing on Chinese Internet vernacular, I will argue, offer a fascinating lens to probe into the highly dynamic online discursive practices in contemporary China. Drawing on the notions of entextualization and resemiotization, I will trace and analyse the patterned ways in which pre-existing linguistic resources are creatively reworked by the app to achieve new identity-making purposes. Situating the changes of the field of healthcare in China within a worldwide shift towards neoliberal ideologies and practices, I will also briefly discuss how the emergence of such new social space in digital settings may impact the production and communication of health knowledge and services in China.
Original languageEnglish
Article number175048132091757
Number of pages20
JournalDiscourse & Communication
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11 May 2020


Bibliographical note

I would like to thank Andrew Sewell from Department of English, Lingnan University for insightful comments on an earlier draft of the paper. I am also grateful for the detailed reviews from two anonymous reviewers, which helped to improve the quality of the paper.


  • Chinese Internet vernacular
  • Mainland China
  • doctors
  • popular science article
  • professional identity
  • sociolinguistic resources

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