Chinatown by numbers
Defining an ethnic space by empirical linguistic landscape
This article explores the potential of the LL to evaluate ethnically-defined spaces. Focusing on the area referred to as ‘Chinatown’ in central Liverpool, it examines the relationships between space, representation, and identity. Interviews with actors and passers-by indicate that the location and definition of Chinatown are interpreted inconsistently. As the article argues, however, the LL contains useful information for locating and qualifying the ethnic space. Scrutinizing both interview data and an empirical corpus of all the texts visible in the space, the article aims to define the borders of Chinatown, and the expression of ethnic identity therein. Whilst testifying to the commodification of aesthetic ideals and symbolic imagery, the LL simultaneously reveals an in-group community representative of authentic Chineseness. Exploring the dynamics of linguistic exclusion and accommodation, the data indicate not only that the identity of Chinatown is multi-layered, but also that its borders are subjective and not definable spatially.
Keywords: ethnolinguistic vitality, Chinatown, quantitative approaches, ethnoscape
Published online: 29 September 2016
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