Volume 34, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0957-6851
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9838
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This paper is a sociolinguistic study of the linguistic landscape of signboards in Singapore hawker centres. It examines the language(s) displayed on the signboards of 2,145 stalls in the 20 largest hawker centres in Singapore. Hawker centres in Singapore are open-air eating places patronised by thousands of people each day. With less government intervention in the languages that can be displayed on hawker centre signboards, the signs reflect the languages used and identities adopted by the masses in a multilingual setting. This language ecology enables us to observe how languages interact at individual and societal levels in hawker centres and how linguistic diversity is maintained despite the apparent widespread use of English in Singapore. We examine how besides the monolingual, bilingual and multilingual and hybrid signboards, hawker centres are unique habitats in this language ecology where non-Mandarin dialects are preserved, and traditional Chinese characters are commonly seen, in a globalised Singapore. The hawker centres showcase a linguistic landscape of identity, diversity, and continuity.


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