Volume 15, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1387-6732
  • E-ISSN: 1570-6001
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This paper investigates the ways languages are used in Philadelphia Chinatown through qualitative content analysis of 330 photos. Examining the linguistic landscape of public spaces exposes issues of linguistic tensions, language vitality, and language shift in multilingual settings. While Chinese in the form of Mandarin is highly publicized, thereby placing disproportionate emphasis upon one language over others, Philadelphia Chinatown shows diversity, coexistence, and creative uses of multiple Chinese languages alongside English. The signage suggests linguistic rescaling connecting real and imagined audiences, conforming to broader ‘Chinese’ linguistic norms while localized to connect to a range of Chineses. We show how linguistic and cultural pluralism of ‘Chinese’ have always existed – and continue to exist – and the importance of developing socially sensitive literacy pedagogy, especially when there is a mismatch between the informal, community-level signage and what is formally taught in ‘Chinese’ language classrooms in the U.S. Keywords: linguistic landscape; Chinatown; Chinese languages; literacy education; heritage language; education


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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