A Look into Manila Chinatown’s Linguistic Landscape: The Role of Language and Language Ideologies

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Abstract

Maria Eena Maxine A. Jazul & Alejandro S. Bernardo

Philippine Journal of Linguistics

Journal Article

Volume:

48

Issue:

NA

Pages:

75-98

2017

Linguistic landscape, Chinatown, multilingualism, signs, place semiotics, linguistic vitality

The study of public signage referred to as linguistic landscape (LL) is an approach to understanding multilingualism. It has been used as an attempt to examine diversity and power relations in a multilingual environment such as the Philippines. This paper intends to contribute to the growing body of research in this interesting field of sociolinguistic inquiry by examining the linguistic landscape of Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown. Anchored on Ben-Rafael et al.’s (2006) notion of top-down and bottom-up categorization of signs and Scollon and Scollon’s (2003) concept of place semiotics, this paper examines how languages are represented in the LL of, the predominant language in, and the language ideologies in Binondo Chinatown. The findings demonstrate that English occupies a hegemonic position in the LL of Binondo Chinatown, and this dominance challenges the presence of Filipino, the National Language, and that the use of Chinese is not primarily for communication but for commercial purposes to engender some sense of authenticity and cultural identity in relation to the Chinese culture and thus creating a transnational space for Binondo Chinatown to function as a cultural destination.

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