“A very gay city, also a beautiful one”: The role of attitude markers in early travel guidebooks to China


According to Marjorie Morgan (2001), the “traveling age” in its contemporary meaning began in the early Victorian years, when leisure traveling within and outside Britain became increasingly common. It is around the same time that we witness a divergence between the traditional genres of “travel account” and “travel guidebook”, which become “better defined and more easily distinguishable” (Buzard 1993, François 2012, pp. 72-73). In addition to more practical information, one of the distinctive characteristics of the modern travel guidebook is their objectivity (Behdad 1994). The author’s subjectivity, ubiquitous in travel accounts, appears here to be condensed in adjectives (Bertho Lavenir 1999, p. 61). This study attempts to analyze the presence of authorial subjectivity in early travel guides to China by looking at attitude markers, in order to determine whether and how the authors express opinions and judgements. The study is carried out on a corpus of travel guidebooks to China published between 1866 and 1934, compiled using OCR software ABBYY FineReader PDF 15 and investigated with corpus analysis software Sketch Engine. A mixed approach is adopted, employing both quantitative and qualitative methods. Hyland and Tse’s interpersonal model of metadiscourse (2004) is borrowed to investigate authorial stance, focusing specifically on attitude markers, namely, attitude verbs, sentence adverbs, and adjectives (Hyland 2005b, p. 180). Results highlight an overall positive assessment of the locations described in the guidebooks as well as of the products themselves and of the travel services offered. Attitude markers also steer the tourist towards certain locations and itineraries, also contributing to shaping how travelers “gaze” (Urry 1990) at China as a destination.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v53p157

Keywords: tourism discourse; attitude markers; tourist gaze; travel guidebooks; China


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