• ISSN 1018-2101
  • E-ISSN: 2406-4238


This article examines a Korean American comedian’s use of and the ideologies that legitimate this racializing style. These ideologies of legitimacy depend on assumptions about the relationship between communities, the authentication of a speaker’s community membership, and the nature of the interpretive frame that has been “keyed”. Specifically, her Mock Asian depends on and, to some extent, reproduces particular ideological links between race, nation, and language despite the apparent process of ideological subversion. Yet her use of stereotypical Asian speech is not a straightforward instance of racial crossing, given that she is ‘Asian’ according to most racial ideologies in the U.S. Consequently, while her use of Mock Asian may necessarily reproduce mainstream American racializing discourses about Asians, she is able to simultaneously decontextualize and deconstruct these very discourses. This article suggests that it is her successful authentication as an Asian American comedian, particularly one who is critical of Asian marginalization in the U.S., that legitimizes her use of Mock Asian and that yields an interpretation of her practices primarily as a critique of racist mainstream ideologies.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Bailey, Benjamin
    (1997) Communication of respect in interethnic service encounters. Language in Society26.3: 327-356. doi: 10.1017/S0047404500019497
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404500019497 [Google Scholar]
  2. (2000) Communicative behavior and conflict between African-American customers and Korean immigrant retailers in Los Angeles. Discourse & Society11.1: 86-108. doi: 10.1177/0957926500011001004
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0957926500011001004 [Google Scholar]
  3. Bakhtin, M.M
    (1981) The dialogic imagination. Austin: University of Texas Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Barrett, Rusty
    (1995) The markedness model and style switching: Evidence from African American drag queens. In Pamela Silberman and Jonathan D. Loftin (eds.), SALSA II: Proceedings of the second annual symposium about language and society-Austin. Austin: University of Texas, Department of Linguistics, pp.40-52.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Bauman, Richard
    (1977) Verbal art as performance. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Bauman, Richard , and Charles L. Briggs
    (1990) Poetics and performance as critical perspectives on language and social life. Annual Review of Anthropology19: 59-88. doi: 10.1146/annurev.an.19.100190.000423
    https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.an.19.100190.000423 [Google Scholar]
  7. Beck, Howard
    (2003) O’Neal denies charges of racism. The Daily News of Los Angeles, January 11, Valley Edition, Sports:1.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Bell, Allen
    (1984) Language style as audience design. Language in Society13: 145-204. doi: 10.1017/S004740450001037X
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S004740450001037X [Google Scholar]
  9. Bourdieu, Pierre
    (1977) Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511812507
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511812507 [Google Scholar]
  10. (1991) Language and symbolic power. Cambridge: Polity Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Brown, Tim
    (2003) O’Neal issues apology; Laker center says he was only joking in comments about Yao and that his relationship with Louis Farrakhan is his own business. Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, January 11, Home Edition, Sports:1.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Bucholtz, Mary
    (1999) You da man: Narrating the racial other in the production of white masculinity. Journal of Sociolinguistics3.4: 443-460. doi: 10.1111/1467‑9481.00090
    https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9481.00090 [Google Scholar]
  13. (2003) Sociolinguistic nostalgia and the authentication of identity. Journal of Sociolinguistics7.3: 398-416. doi: 10.1111/1467‑9481.00232
    https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9481.00232 [Google Scholar]
  14. Chin, Andrew
    (2002) Why Abercrombie and fetch still doesn’t get it. April 23. modelminority.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=21.
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Cho, Margaret
    (1996) Drunk with power. Westlake Village, CA: Uproar Entertainment.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. (2001a) I’m the one that I want. New York: Ballantine Books.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. (2001b) I’m the one that I want: Margaret Cho filmed live in concert. Lionel Coleman (ed.). New York: Winstar TV & Video.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Chonin, Neva
    (1999) Cho hits comic heights with tales from Hollywood’s depths. The San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco, November 15, Final edition, E:1.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Coupland, Nikolas
    (2001a) Stylization, authenticity and TV news review. Discourse Studies3.4: 413-442. doi: 10.1177/1461445601003004006
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1461445601003004006 [Google Scholar]
  20. (2001b) Dialect stylization in radio talk. Language in Society30.3: 345-375.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Davies, Christie
    (1987) Language, identity and ethnic jokes about stupidity. International Journal of the Sociology of Language65: 39-52.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Eckert, Penelope , and Sally McConnell-Ginet
    (1992) Think practically and look locally: Language and gender as community-based practice. Annual Review of Anthropology21: 461-490. doi: 10.1146/annurev.an.21.100192.002333
    https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.an.21.100192.002333 [Google Scholar]
  23. Ervin-Tripp, Susan
    (2001) Variety, style-shifting, and ideology. In Penelope Eckert and John Rickford (eds.), Style and sociolinguistic variation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.44-56.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Ford, Chad
    (2003) Shaq under fire for Yao-bashing. ESPN Insider, January 10: insider.espn.go.com/insider/index.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Giles, Howard , and Philip Smith
    (1979) Accommodation theory: Optimal levels of convergence. In Howard Giles and Robert N. St. Clair (eds.), Language and social psychology. Baltimore: University Park Press, pp.45-65.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Goffman, Erving
    (1974) Frame analysis: An essay on the organization of experience. Boston: Northeastern University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. (1981) Forms of talk. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Goodwin, Marjorie Harness
    (1990) He-said-she-said: Talk as social organization among black children. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Hill, Jane H
    (1998) Language, race, and white public space. American Anthropologist100.3: 680-689. doi: 10.1525/aa.1998.100.3.680
    https://doi.org/10.1525/aa.1998.100.3.680 [Google Scholar]
  30. Irvine, Judith T
    (1996) Shadow conversations: The indeterminacy of participant roles. In Michael Silverstein and Greg Urban (eds.), Natural histories of discourse. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp.131-159.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. (2001) “Style” as distinctiveness: The culture and ideology of linguistic differentiation. In Penelope Eckert and John Rickford (eds.), Style and sociolinguistic variation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.21-43.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Irvine, Judith T. , and Susan Gal
    (2000) Language ideology and linguistic differentiation. In Paul V. Kroskrity (ed.), Regimes of language: Ideologies, polities, and identities. Santa Fe, New Mexico: School of American Research Press, pp.35-83.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Jaffe, Alexandra
    (2000) Comic performance and the articulation of hybrid identity. Pragmatics10.1: 39-59.
    [Google Scholar]
  34. Justin, Neal
    (2002) Can race be a laughing matter?Star Tribune, Minneapolis, August 23, 2002, Metro Edition, E:23.
    [Google Scholar]
  35. Kong, Deborah
    (2003) Abercrombie & Fitch accused of discriminating against minorities. The Associated Press, San Francisco, June 17, Domestic News.
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Lave, Jean , and Etienne Wenger
    (1991) Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511815355
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511815355 [Google Scholar]
  37. Le Page, Robert B
    (1980) ‘Projection, focussing, diffusion’ or steps towards a sociolinguistic theory of language, illustrated from the sociolinguistic survey of multilingual communities, Stages I: Cayo District, Belize (formerly British Honduras) and II: St. Lucia. York Papers in Linguistics9: 9-31.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Lowe, Lisa
    (1991) Heterogeneity, hybridity, and multiplicity: Marking Asian American differences. Diaspora1.1: 24-44. doi: 10.1353/dsp.1991.0014
    https://doi.org/10.1353/dsp.1991.0014 [Google Scholar]
  39. Myers-Scotton, Carol
    (1993) Social motivations for codeswitching: Evidence from Africa. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Ochs, Elinor
    (1992) Indexing gender. In Alessandro Duranti and Charles Goodwin (eds.), Rethinking context: Language as an interactive phenomenon. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, pp.335-358.
    [Google Scholar]
  41. O’Sullivan, Taro
    (2002) Asian-American affairs: The two wongs of Abercrombie and Fitch. Asian Reporter, April 30, 12.18: 6.
    [Google Scholar]
  42. Rampton, Ben
    (1995) Crossing: Language and ethnicity among adolescents. London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Said, Edward W
    (1978) Orientalism. New York: Pantheon Books.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Strasburg, Jenny
    (2002) Abercrombie and glitch: Asian Americans rip retailer for stereotypes on t-shirts. The San Francisco Chronicle, April 18, Final:1.
    [Google Scholar]
  45. Tang, Irwin
    (2003) APA community should tell Shaquille O’Neal to ‘come down to Chinatown.’AsianWeek, January 8, 23.19: 14.
    [Google Scholar]
  46. Whang, Jin
    (1994) “All American Girl” premiers negative portrayal of Korean Americans. Korea Times, Los Angeles, October 4:3.
    [Google Scholar]
  47. Woolard, Kathryn A
    (1987) Codeswitching and comedy in Catalonia. IPrA Papers in Pragmatics1.1: 106-122.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. (1998) Simultaneity and bivalency as strategies in bilingualism. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology8.1: 3-29. doi: 10.1525/jlin.1998.8.1.3
    https://doi.org/10.1525/jlin.1998.8.1.3 [Google Scholar]
  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): Asian American; Humor; Ideology; Performance; Race
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error