The paper explores the use of figurative language by Charlie Chan, a fictional Chinese detective protagonist of a series of novels and film adaptations between the 1920s and the 1940s. Chan’s construction as an ethnotype is strongly determined by language choices, including the recurring use of metaphors, similes, and proverbiality. In particular, the research focuses on the classification and analysis of Chan’s figurative speech patterns in the novel The Black Camel (1929), and features both a quantitative survey and qualitative comments on relevant examples. The results show numerous occurrences of figurative language, in a tension between conventional and creative uses, where especially the latter corresponds to a constant effort by the author to create a sense of ‘exotic’ otherness. This confirms that Charlie Chan is mainly constructed with a white orientalist audience in mind, in an attempt to cater for a stereotypical imagery that only occasionally overlaps with faithful ethnic and cultural representation.

“Death is a black camel”: Metaphors, similes, and proverbiality in the stereotyped re-presentation of fictional ethnicity

Dora Renna
Co-primo
;
2023

Abstract

The paper explores the use of figurative language by Charlie Chan, a fictional Chinese detective protagonist of a series of novels and film adaptations between the 1920s and the 1940s. Chan’s construction as an ethnotype is strongly determined by language choices, including the recurring use of metaphors, similes, and proverbiality. In particular, the research focuses on the classification and analysis of Chan’s figurative speech patterns in the novel The Black Camel (1929), and features both a quantitative survey and qualitative comments on relevant examples. The results show numerous occurrences of figurative language, in a tension between conventional and creative uses, where especially the latter corresponds to a constant effort by the author to create a sense of ‘exotic’ otherness. This confirms that Charlie Chan is mainly constructed with a white orientalist audience in mind, in an attempt to cater for a stereotypical imagery that only occasionally overlaps with faithful ethnic and cultural representation.
2023
Renna, Dora; Santulli, Francesca
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11392/2524870
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