This thesis examines the relationship between language and culture in
narrative writing by focusing on a specific group of texts: published narratives
written in English by Chinese American authors. These narratives tend to focus on
the minority experience and the use of English to depict the ethnic culture magnifies
the intricacies of cultural representation. The intimate relationship between language
and culture in these texts is underscored by the fact that language is repeatedly
singled out as a primary marker of cultural difference.
The concept of intercultural communication provides a useful platform from
which to study the interconnections between language and culture in narrative
writing. Although the concept is mainly applied to spoken discourse, it highlights a
number of important aspects of the narratives in this study. Analysis of the texts
reveals that intercultural communication is not only a common feature in the
narrative worlds as characters from different cultural groups interact but that the
texts also become sites of intercultural discourse by foregrounding those
characteristics that make them culturally distinctive.
The role of language in these texts is closely related to the way they
communicate as intercultural narratives. Thus, this research examines how language
is used to establish cultural identity and signify cultural difference. It also describes
the various ways in which language is stylistically exploited to express ethnicity. In
analyzing the relationship between language and culture in these narratives, an
approach combining the resources of both stylistics and sociolinguistics is adopted.
The cultural significance of discourse patterns and language representation in the
narratives can only be fully appreciated with the aid of sociolinguistic knowledge.