Edited by Crispin Thurlow and Kellie Gonçalves
[Linguistic Landscape 5:2] 2019
► pp. 160–178
The place/s of Tagalog in Hong Kong’s Central district
Negotiating center-periphery dynamics
The Central district is the government, financial, and business center of Hong Kong. Yet, on Sundays, it turns temporarily into a space densely occupied by migrant domestic workers from the Philippines. It is then that Tagalog emerges as a valuable linguistic resource in the center of Hong Kong, primarily as it is used on commercial signage as well as by speakers of other languages who see the presence of Filipinos – predominantly female domestic workers – as a business opportunity. Other signs in central Hong Kong that include Tagalog are regulatory, indexing the same Filipinos as low status domestic workers. Using the key concepts of sociolinguistic scales (Blommaert, 2007) and center-periphery dynamics (Pietikäinen & Kelly-Holmes, 2013), I analyze the underlying forces relevant to Tagalog’s (and hence its speakers) symbolic centering and peripheralization in Hong Kong’s semiotic landscape.