The Linguistic Landscape of Chinatown A Sociolinguistic Ethnography Author: Jackie Jia Lou

Hardback - 168 pages
Related Formats:
12 May 2016
Multilingual Matters
210 x 148


This book presents a sociolinguistic ethnography of the linguistic landscape of Chinatown in Washington, DC. The book sheds a unique light on the impact of urban development on traditionally ethnic neighbourhoods and discusses the various historical, social and cultural factors that contribute to this areaís shifting linguistic landscape. Based on fieldwork, interviews with residents and visitors and analysis of community meetings and public policies, it provides an in-depth study of the production and consumption of linguistic landscape as a cultural text. Following a geosemiotic analysis of shop signs, it traces the multiple historical trajectories of discourse which shaped the bilingual landscape of the neighbourhood. Turning to the spatial contexts, it then compares and contrasts the situated meaning of the linguistic landscape for residents, community organisers and urban planners.


This book presents a fascinating insight into the changing role of Chinatowns in today's urban landscape.

- Theo van Leeuwen, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark

How does place emerge and how is it lived? This sophisticated and meticulously executed research offers new engaging vistas on the significance of linguistic landscapes in place-making. Everyone interested in the complex spatial and temporal dynamics of urban change will want to read this book – from researchers to residents.

- Christopher Stroud, University of the Western Cape, South Africa

Situating languages in places and spaces, Jackie Jia Lou provides us with a deep and comprehensive multi-level ethnographic analyses of ‘China Town’ as both a local and global space (China and Washington, DC). The book offers an excellent case that reveals how various dimensions of Linguistic Landscape offer a unique tool for deep interpretation of both the overt and covert layers of spaces over time, mobility, place and space.

- Elana Shohamy, Tel Aviv University, Israel

This book enriches the field and provides inspiration and several useful references. As such, it is a valuable contribution to the field of linguistic landscape studies, as well as to sociolinguistics, ethnography, and discourse studies.

- Pragmatics and Society 9:1 (2018) - Zhongyi Xu and Lifang Wei, Zhejiang Yuexiu University of Foreign Languages, China

It is a rarity when a scholar can integrate multiple theoretical frameworks, employ a variety of methodological tools and incorporate them smoothly into a linguistic landscape study that is both comprehensive, immanently readable and a model for future linguistic landscape analyses. Jackie Jia Lou has managed to accomplish all of that in six chapters and just 156 pages.

- Linguistic Landscape 3:3 - Thom Huebner, San Jose State University, USA; Chulalongkorn University, Thailand

This book offers both a comprehensive analysis of the linguistic landscape of Washington, D.C.’s Chinatown and an admirable example of how an integrative research design can enhance a linguistic landscape study. It is an impeccably presented piece of research that focuses on one place but at the same time has clear connections to the wider debates of the discipline. 

- LINGUIST List 28.98 - Laura Michele Callahan, City College of New York (CUNY), USA

Author Biography:

Jackie Jia Lou is Assistant Professor in the Department of English, City University of Hong Kong. Her main research interests are linguistic landscape, sociolinguistic ethnography, multimodal discourse analysis, and language, space and place. She is on the editorial board for Linguistic Landscapes: An International Journal.

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Research / Professional

Table of Contents

View PDF Table of Contents

Book Preview