Article published in:Gender, Sexuality & Linguistic Landscapes
Edited by Tommaso M. Milani
[Linguistic Landscape 4:3] 2018
► pp. 238–256
Cosmopolitan English, traditional Japanese
Reading language desire into the signage of Tokyo’s gay district
The Linguistic Landscape of Tokyo’s premier gay district, Shinjuku Ni-chōme, contains much English-language signage. Previously described in touristic literature as marking out spaces for foreign gay men, this article draws upon an ethnographic study of how signage produces queer space in Japan to argue that English instead constructs a sense of cosmopolitan worldliness. The ethnography also reveals that participants within Ni-chōme’s gay bar sub-culture contrast this cosmopolitan identity with a “traditional” identity indexed by Japanese-language signage. In exploring how Japanese men navigate Ni-chōme’s signage, this article deploys Piller and Takahashi’s (2006) notion of “language desire” to investigate the role of LL in influencing individual queer men’s sense(s) of self. This article thus broadens the focus of LL research to account for how engagement with an LL may impact identity construction, with an emphasis placed on how learning to “read” an LL influences the formation of sexual identities.
Keywords: cosmopolitanism, tradition, gay identity, Japan, language desire, identity construction, reading practices
Published online: 26 November 2018
[ p. 255 ]References
Barni, M. & Bagna, C.
(2017) The spatialisation of desire in a Japanese gay district through queer semiotics. ACME: An International Journal of for Critical Geographies, 16(3), 500–527. https://www.acme-journal.org/index.php/acme/article/view/1357
Blommaert, J. & Maly, I.
Garvin, R. T.
Landry, R. & Bourhis, R. Y.
Piller, I. & Takahashi, K.
Shohamy, E. & Gorter, D.
Stroud, C. & Jegels, D.[ p. 256 ]
Szabó, T. P. & Troyer, R. A.
Cited by 1 other publications
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