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Translocalization and Social Rescaling: Case Studies of Linguistic Landscapes in Guangzhou

  • Yanmei Han

    Yanmei Han is an associate professor at the School of English Education, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies (GDUFS). She is also associated with the Center for Linguistics and Applied Linguistics of GDUFS as a part-time researcher. Her research interests include language and identity, language and culture, and multilingualism.

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    and Xiaodan Wu

    Xiaodan Wu, having graduated from the School of English Education, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, is now a teacher of English at the Second Junior High School of Luocun in Nanhai district, Foshan. Her research interest is in linguistic landscape.

Abstract

Languages and linguistic resources transport from one locality to another, adapting to the norms, customs, and regulations of a new locality. This process involves translocalization. Translocalization emphasizes the movement of linguistic resources against the backdrop of globalization and the combination or reframing of resources from different localities. This research explores the extent to which translocalization is reflected by the linguistic landscapes of three distinct commercial areas in Guangzhou, China. It goes on to discuss how translocalization works together with social rescaling to incur the movement of linguistic resources and to result in distinct linguistic landscapes of the three commercial areas. It concludes that some languages or linguistic resources, such as English, pinyin and traditional Chinese writing, are transported to local contexts for the purpose of rescaling, whereas other languages or dialects, like Cantonese, might gradually lose their function of rescaling and retain its function in indexing local identity and solidarity. This study calls for more attention to the local resources and contexts in linguistic landscape studies. It argues for the indexical function of linguistic resources in social rescaling and city planning.

About the authors

Yanmei Han

Yanmei Han is an associate professor at the School of English Education, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies (GDUFS). She is also associated with the Center for Linguistics and Applied Linguistics of GDUFS as a part-time researcher. Her research interests include language and identity, language and culture, and multilingualism.

Xiaodan Wu

Xiaodan Wu, having graduated from the School of English Education, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, is now a teacher of English at the Second Junior High School of Luocun in Nanhai district, Foshan. Her research interest is in linguistic landscape.

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Acknowledgment

This work was supported by MOE Project of Humanities and Social Sciences for Young Researchers (Project No.: 16YJC740023]; Project of Humanities and Social Sciences in Universities and Colleges in Guangdong Province [Project No.: 2016WTSCX033]. The authors also wish to thank Professor Chen Jianping and Professor Xiong Tao for hosting this special column and the support from the Chinese MOE Research Project of Humanities and Social Science (Project No.: 16JJD740006) conducted by the Center for Linguistics and Applied Linguistics, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies. They would also like to acknowledge the contribution of anonymous reviewers for their insightful feedback on the drafts of this article and the editors of the Chinese Journal of Applied Linguistics for their diligent work.

Published Online: 2020-03-24
Published in Print: 2020-03-26

© 2020 FLTRP, Walter de Gruyter, Cultural and Education Section British Embassy

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