Linguistic landscapes of Chinese communities in Australia
AffiliationSchool of Languages and Linguistics
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2023-01-27. This item is currently available to University of Melbourne staff and students only, login required.
© 2020 Xiaofang Yao
Deeper and wider processes of globalisation have contributed to increased mobility in society. As more people move across borders along with their personal histories, cultures and languages, transnational places and diaspora communities have become ideal sites of research (Arnaut, Blommaert, Rampton, & Spotti, 2016; Pennycook & Otsuji, 2015). Recently, there has been unprecedented interest in sociolinguistic phenomena in superdiverse, metropolitan cities, giving rise to the emergence of linguistic landscape research. Linguistic landscape originally referred to the languages used on publicly visible street signs, such as shop signs, advertisements and road signs (Ben-Rafael, Shohamy, Amara, & Trumper-Hecht, 2006). Later, the definition was expanded to account for the use of all semiotic resources, including linguistic forms, in the public arena (Jaworski & Thurlow, 2010). Despite ongoing efforts to document and describe urban landscapes in different parts of the world (Blackwood, Lanza, & Woldemariam, 2016), little work to date has attempted to formulate a comprehensive response to recent trends in linguistic landscape research. As a fledgling field of study, linguistic landscape research has received wide criticism for employing a crude type of quantitative analysis that regards languages as clearly definable units (Blommaert, 2019). The fact that the linguistic landscape perspective can incorporate different fields of sociolinguistics, such as research on minority languages, also raises questions about its theoretical and methodological paths (Van Mensel, Vandenbrouke, & Blackwood, 2017). Drawing on frameworks grounded in geosemiotics (Scollon & Scollon, 2003), superdiversity (Blommaert, 2013) and metrolingualism (Pennycook, 2017), this thesis aims to interrogate the theory, methodology, framing of power and relevance of linguistic landscape research. For this purpose, I employ an ethnographically oriented approach to examine three complex case studies of the linguistic landscapes of Chinese communities in Victoria, Australia. Throughout the thesis, I gradually construct the coherent argument that linguistic landscape research benefits from a geosemiotic theory, an ethnographic methodology, a social semiotic perspective to power relations and an exploration of social media landscape. Findings of the three case studies shed light on how semiotic resources are purposefully employed to construct nostalgia, power and identity. Overall, the thesis expands the theoretical and methodological reach of linguistic landscape research by interrogating the urban-centric perspective, adopting an assemblage view of sign systems, offering a triadic framework for power relations, and pushing the boundaries of linguistic landscapes.
Keywordslinguistic landscape; semiotic resources; geosemiotic analysis; metrolingual practices; power relations; social media; Chinese
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