The Language of Dragon Boating in Hong Kong and Singapore
Keywords:Systemic functional linguistics, Discourse analysis, Dragon-boating, Hong Kong and Singapore
AbstractThis research draws on elements of systemic functional linguistics to conduct a discourse analysis of dragon-boating in Asia, predominantly in the commercial areas of Hong Kong and Singapore, where this sport has both a long history and strong culture today. It seeks to understand how experiential and interpersonal meanings are related to this sport in a variety of online texts ranging from local news media sites, corporation team websites, sites from dragon boat companies specialising in training corporations, dragon boat paddlers’ websites and other popular sources such as ‘expatliving’. Findings demonstrate that dragon boating has certain unique characteristics which help to give it significance in this region. With the Duanwu Festival held annually, the sport is steeped firmly in mythology and legend. Additionally, the nature of the boat as a synchronised machine is exploited by corporations and linked to competitive performance. As an intense sport, physical and mental attributes such as ‘strength’ and ‘tenacity’ are associated with it; the upper body requirements of the practice also gives it a unique trait for breast cancer survivors. ‘Tragedy’ is also a part of dragon boat’s modern history with a fatal accident for the Singapore men’s team during an international race in Cambodia. In sum, the sport of dragon boating can be seen to have a rich schema of semiotic associations in Hong Kong and Singapore.
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