Gender, Language

I’m really just showing off that I’ve finally implemented Unicode posting on my site, but I also wanted to add a footnote of sorts to my last post about language and gender.

There is a very particular form of female speech in Taiwan, which while it may not be unique to Taiwan, doesn’t seem to have an equivalent term in English. That term is sajiao 撒嬌 (Sājiāo). There is a good discussion of it in this essay by Marjorie Chan. Here is how she says the Modern Chinese Dictionary defines it:

To deliberately act like a spoiled child in front of someone because of the awareness of the other person’s affection.

That’s about the best definition I’ve ever seen, although I think you have to watch Chinese Soap Operas to really grasp its essence. I think the effect is best described as cute and annoying at the same time.”

For more on sajiao, see:

Farris, Catherine S. 1995. A semeiotic analysis of sajiao as a gender marked communication style in Chinese.” In: Unbound Taiwan: Closeups from a Distance, edited by Marshall Johnson and Fred Y.L. Chiu. Chicago: Center for East Asian Studies. Pp.1-29.