On (not) speaking English*: The ‘phonic’ personae of transnational Chinese stars in the global visual network

Dorothy W S Lau*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


English-speaking flair becomes a rubric for the complex process of star construction of Chinese film performers in the shifting trajectories of the globalized media milieu. Shortly after her name was established on the world screens with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Zhang Ziyi's inability to speak fluent English in public events and meet-the-press occasions became a point of public notice. Also, the rise of Web-based culture has exposed her linguistic persona to a new and perpetual form of scrutiny as Web users impart the images about her ‘poor’ English incessantly and seamlessly. Then, what does her changing English-speaking image suggest to her ‘Chinese’ stardom? This essay will examine the importance and implication of speaking proficient English in the star-making of Zhang on YouTube. I will argue Zhang's intertextual, accented articulations in English become part of the network of new visualities and communities and, therefore, valorize her lingua-crossing star construction. Her linguistically transformed persona will prove she is flexible enough to contend her appeal at the fringe of the Anglophone and Sinophobe cultures. By investigating Zhang's ‘phonic’ presence, this essay will, hence, shed light on the dynamics between language and stardom in the landscape of global visual exchange.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-40
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Chinese Cinemas
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2018

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Communication
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


Dive into the research topics of 'On (not) speaking English*: The ‘phonic’ personae of transnational Chinese stars in the global visual network'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this