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Little Souna: Building A Sense Of National Identity

1715 words - 7 pages

National identity can be defined as an imagined construction through discourses and rituals (Alane and Charles, 2008; Barker, 1999). It is both politically and culturally formed (Alane and Charles, 2008), which presents people with a sense of belonging to their nation states (Duncan, 2003). This essay is going to explore how the radio programme arouses a sense of national identity in its listeners, through the example of “Little Souna (In pinyin: suǒnà or lǎbā)”. It is a children’s radio programme targeted at the 5-year-old to the 7-year-old (Personal research, X, 2012; table in appendix), which contains stories, poetries, songs, broadcasting plays and interactions. The reason of choosing this programme is related to some researches, which claims that 5-year-old children began to talk about their national membership (Barrett, 2000). In that case, the analyses on the contributory role of “Little Souna” in nourishing children’s initial sense of national identity can make sense. There are three major parts of analyses on the “Little Souna” in the essay below: the first part concerns with the linguistics, where the function of language, sound and words will be examined; the second part is related to the traditional culture such as traditional music, traditional literature and traditional morality; the third part is a case study of Yushu earthquake, which also shows the power of the radio program in strengthening children’s sense of national identity.

To begin with, “Little Souna” takes advantage of linguistic power to implant national consciousness into its listeners. As Herder, Fichte and Humboldt addressed, ‘language is a defining essence of a nation’ (cited in Simpson, 2007). Chinese, doesn’t only unite the nation, but also symbolize the national identity (Ibid, 2007). All the content of “Little Souna” is broadcast in Chinese. Although this may not have obvious effect instantly, it has long-term influence on children’s national membership early formed through the universalization of Chinese. However, Chinese is actually the assembly of various dialects in diverse area of China, which is similar in written form but distinct in pronunciation (Simpson, 2007). “Little Souna” uses the Beijing Mandarin as standard pronunciation. The reason for choosing Mandarin is that among nine major dialects, it has the most speakers – about 660 million, taking a percentage of 63.8% (Hou 2002; cited in Simpson, 2007), while the reason for choosing Beijing Mandarin instead of other seven types of Mandarin is mainly due to the politic status of Beijing as the capital city. As a consequence, the wide broadcasting of “Little Souna” replaces respective dialects with a unified capital pronunciation. By way of popularizing the shared official language, the consciousness of individual as a part of the whole nation gets stronger than the regional identity.

Besides, techniques of the sound and word choices are also used felicitously in “Little Souna”, which enables...

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