Dissertation: Language Ideologies on Display: Local, regional & (trans)national identities in Taipei's linguistic landscape

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Tue May 20 16:23:18 UTC 2008


Language Ideologies on Display: Local, regional & (trans)national identities
in Taipei's linguistic landscape


Institution: University of New Mexico
Program: Department of Communication & Journalism
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007

Author: Melissa L. Curtin

Dissertation Title: Language Ideologies on Display: Local, regional &
(trans)national identities in Taipei's linguistic landscape



Dissertation Director:
Bradford 'J' Hall
Maria Dolores Gonzales
Janet Cramer
Ilia Rodríguez

Dissertation Abstract:

In this project, I examine two main types of public signage in Taipei - one
that sports non-Chinese, 'vogue display languages' and one that features
official signage with varying Romanizations of Chinese - and I investigate
ways in which all orthographies employed serve in indexing residents'
complex negotiations of local, regional, and (trans)national identities.
Using data from a year-long ethnographic study, I first provide an overview
of the functional patterns of non-Chinese display languages and describe
the local interpretive readings and identities conveyed therein. I also
include a semiotic analysis of the prominent role of form of the scripts in
the signification of these locally produced meanings.

I then expand the scope of the project to examine the role of systems of
Romanization (pinyin) of Chinese language in official signage in the
contestation of identities in and of Taiwan. Applying a critical discourse
analysis using news articles, web blogs, government websites, academic
literature, and informal discussions, I present an analysis of the key
social semiotic processes of indexicality and iconicity in language
orthographies in the negotiation of residents' local, regional, and
(trans)national identities. In this analysis, I compare the highly
naturalized meanings of scripts of non-Chinese display languages with the
highly contested significations of the competing Romanized scripts used in
transliterating Chinese languages. I conclude in noting that all
orthographic systems in the multi-script LL of Taipei are ideologically
based and serve important functions in the (re)presentation of Taiwanese
identities.

Systems of pinyin are important in indexing what it means to be 'a
Taiwanese' on local, regional and (trans)national levels, and are
interpreted within - and contribute to - a shifting, ideologically grounded
framework of notions of Chinese and/or Taiwanese ethnic, cultural,
political and national identity. Display languages also index what it means
to be 'a Taiwanese' on local, regional and (trans)national levels, but
these are not interpreted within a framework centering on a
Taiwanese-Chinese identity continuum. Instead, these scripts are largely
interpreted within an economically and ideologically informed framework
that centers on a more local-regional-global identity continuum of what it
means to be a cosmopolitan elite in East Asia today.

http://linguistlist.org/issues/19/19-1584.html


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