The Purist Campaign as Metadiscursive Regime in China’s Tibet

In: Inner Asia
Timothy Thurston School of Languages, Cultures, and Societies, University of Leeds UK

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Tibetans in twenty-first-century China have engaged in an increasingly high-profile campaign to promote language purity. In this purity campaign, Tibetan comedians and rappers have encouraged their audiences to speak pure Tibetan, and a host of neologisms have been coined to help people speak Tibetan even in modern contexts. Although coining new terms involves tremendous innovation, Tibetans almost uniformly view purism in this fashion as promoting traditional knowledge and practices considered to be under threat. This paper examines Tibetan media discourses on language purity to understand the development of new metadiscursive regimes in Tibet that link otherwise contemporary values like language purity with the preservation of Tibetan traditions.

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