Chinese and globalization

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Globalization poses challenges to sociolinguistics. The main challenge is to come to terms with the phenomenology of sociolinguistic globalization. This phenomenology touches four domains: proper globalization effects on language, the effect of globalization on migration patterns and immigrant communities, the effect of globalization, notably of the spread of English as a global language, on language hierarchies, and the domain of remote communities that have serious doubts regarding their possibilities of successfully participating in the globalization process. The sociolinguistics of globalization can only be studied in the total, central as well as peripheral, global context where globalization processes happen and influence language structures, choices and uses. China is a case in point. On the one hand, China is one of the engines of economic globalization; on the other hand, the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and the 2010 Shanghai World Expo brought globalized mega-events to China, spurring an already booming tourist industry. These developments have changed the sociolinguistic face of China. After an outline of some important issues in globalization and a provisional sketch of a program for the study of sociolinguistic globalization in China, this contribution gives an example of a sociolinguistic analysis of a sequence of bilingual Chinese English order notices that can be found in the micro-linguistic landscape of Beijing.


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