Exploring Functional Variation of Cultural Semiotics in Ha Jin's Facing Shadows

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


English has been nativized in global and local contexts, showing distinctive features in linguistics, literary creativity, and cultural discourse and pragmatics. It is an international language that is used for a wide range of functionality across the globe, with legitimate varieties and variations. The nativization of English gives rise to transcultural creativity in relation to literariness that blends and meshes linguistic codes, literary textures and cultural traditions other than those from the traditional native varieties of English. This chapter adopts Ravinder Gargesh’s (2006) framework of nativizing poetic medium in world Englishes, and explores functional variations in the sphere of poetry writing, in particular, the functional variations of cultural semiotics in Ha Jin’s Facing Shadows, which is one of the earlier collections of poems in English by Ha Jin, a Chinese ex-patriot poet and novelist residing in the United States of America. The collection contains 38 poems, which narrate and depict memories, experiences and journeys of a migrant and sojourner with a historical and cultural trajectory deeply rooted in Chinese conceptualizations. The cultural semiotics in Ha Jin’s Facing Shadows comprises expressions, symbols and schemas that are brought to an international readership, transcending linguistic and cultural boundaries. It can be argued that functional variations in nativized varieties of English, particularly in literary writing, are part and parcel of self-expression, identity construction, and transcultural creativity that mark the worldliness of English in an ever-expanding world Englishes literature.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationFunctional Variation in English
Subtitle of host publicationTheoretical Considerations and Practical Challenges
EditorsRam Ashish Giri, Anamika Sharma, James D'Angelo
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
Number of pages15
Edition1st Edition
ISBN (Electronic)9783030522254
ISBN (Print)9783030522247
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameMultilingual Education


  • Functional variation
  • World Englishes
  • Cultural semiotics
  • Transcultural creativity
  • Chinese English

Cite this