Publication details [#63038]

Zhang, Hong and Brian Hok-Shing Chan. 2017. The shaping of a multilingual landscape by shop names: tradition versus modernity. Language and Intercultural Communication 17 (1) : 26–44.
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Article in journal
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The tourist city of Macao is small but rich in cultures typified by contrasts between the traditional and the modern, East and West, local and international. This article captures some of these contrasts as constructed via its multilingual landscape, concentrating on shop names. Whereas many shop names are featured by destandardisation, iconisation or translanguaging, there is also marked variation according to different spaces, especially, casino complexes vs. local neighbourhoods. Shop names in Macao’s casino complexes tend to exoticise Western languages, especially English, by adding symbols or ‘iconising’ the letters to take on a foreign, mysterious or a friendly appearance; those in local neighbourhoods, however, often point out Chinese traditions, for instance, by invoking the right-to-left text vector which was more prevalent in Chinese communities until the mid-twentieth century. The former phenomenon is partly based on the symbolic function of Western languages and symbols in Macao (i.e. Western brands are associated with high-quality and fashionable products), creating an exoticisation effect. The latter respects Macao’s history and is an outcome of particular government regulations. These two types of naming strategies display how various shops and businesses take different positions on various sociolinguistic ‘scales’ in relation to their goods and customers.