Sinologists in Bydgoszcz

Chiarung LU

Topic: Linguistic Meme and Form of Address in Taiwan Mandarin

Meme, coined by Dawkins (1976), is the idea of replicator which “conveys the idea of a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation.” The spread of memes even impels cultural evolution. Linguistic meme refers to some expressions that, to some extent, carry culture-specific meanings. In a broad sense, by definition, every word could be called a meme. However, Dr. Lu investigates in a much narrower sense, i.e., focusing on some expressions that carry cultural meanings. Among many possible candidates, as a beginning, she examines forms of address in Taiwan Mandarin. Each culture has its way to address people. During the process of communication, properly addressing people is to show our respect to them and to achieve our goals. Since the basis of forms of address is the kinship system, in the first part of her talk, the Chinese kinship system will be introduced and reviewed. Chang (2019) found that there is a tendency that in the group of disyllabic kinship terms, those of the paternal side are more likely to be used in generalization. Furthermore, the number of generalized kinship terms of peer generation is dominant in the monosyllabic group. In the second part of her talk, a widely used construction of form of address in online forums, i.e., Gewei+XX+[greetings], will be introduced and examined (Lu 2018). The underlying mechanisms of this phenomenon are identity shift, profiling shift, metaphor, metonymy, conceptual blending, and politeness. In conclusion, Dr. Lu’s talk leads to re-think and integrate the studies of pragmatic strategies, cognitive linguistics, cultural study, and the use of the Internet memes in this digital era.


Chang, Jung-Sheng. 2019. We Are Relatives Now: A Cognitive Linguistic Study on the Generalization of Kinship Terms of Taiwan Mandarin. M.A. thesis, National Taiwan University.

Dawkins, Richard. 1976. The Selfish Gene. New York: Oxford University Press.

Lu, Chiarung. 2018. The emerging construction of form of address in subculture. In Takeda et al. (eds.) Proceedings of the 20th Conference of the Pragmatics Society of Japan, pp. 327–330.