Volume 11, Issue 2
  • ISSN 1877-7031
  • E-ISSN: 1877-8798
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This study examines emerging cancer metaphors that are encoded as a neological construction [X- ‘cancer’] using corpus data retrieved from Chinese social media. The quantitative findings show that [X- ] is a highly productive construction where the open slot X attracts a wide variety of lexical items. The qualitative findings are twofold. First, the central meaning of this construction is to express subjective feelings such as self-mockery (e.g., laziness cancer) and contempt for other people’s behaviors in gender discourse (e.g.. straight man cancer). Second, the development of this construction is caused by the exemplar-based cognitive mechanism through social labeling practices. I argue that this neological language use is employed to convey collective emotions in gender discourse and that it indexes a group style, either playful and humorous or contemptuous and disparaging, both of which construct language user identity and sociocultural ideology in the Chinese cyberspace. This study has implications for research on neological metaphors and for language use in digital culture in general.


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