REVISITING THEORIES OF LANGUAGE AND POVERTY: EVIDENCES FROM CHINA

Wang Chunhui
College of International Education, Capital Normal University, Beijing, People’s Republic of China

Annotation

The concept of poverty involves a complex issue embedded in multi-factorial, multi-dimensional and multi-layered aspects. Therefore, the theoretical and empirical studies on the relationship between language and poverty constitute a dynamic and flexible system. Poverty affects both children’s language development and adults’ use of language. It affects the former by social conditions and neural mechanism, and the impacts of the latter can be interpreted by the concepts of social network and scarcity. Language competence shapes social and economic conditions based on longitudinal and synchronic studies. Language constitutes a probabilistic factor shaping the socioeconomic conditions of individuals, families, regions and countries. Given that the research on alleviating poverty through language has been exerting a greater influence in China’s anti-poverty course, the concept of “target-oriented poverty alleviation through language” has been rephrased and clarified by referencing the scarcity theory. The current studies on language and poverty have been driven by China’s poverty alleviation policies and practices. I believe that the relevant theoretical and empirical studies conducted in China have some broader implications for the international community.

Keywords: Language competence; poverty; poverty alleviation through language; scarcity theory

For citation: Wang Chunhui. Revisiting theories of language and poverty: evidences from China. Sociolinguistic Studies, 2020, no. 3(3) [online], pp. 41–54.

DOI: 10.37892/2713-2951-2020-3-3-41–54