A study on Chinese linguistic landscapes from the perspective of positioning theory

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Wu, Linwei
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Positioning theory is an analytic framework to explore the identity-forming of interlocutors in communications. In this study the author adopts positioning theory to analyze the Chinese linguistic landscapes in the city of Winnipeg in order to explore the positional identities of the Chinese population in western societies. The results show that Chinese Winnipeggers: a) assign high values to the English language but probably not equally to the French language; b) tend to accept western cultures and learn the English language; c) like to express their ethnic identities and inherit and carry the traditional Chinese cultures forward; d) attach importance to the marketing value of English and some Asian languages (like Korean and Vietnamese); e) are supported by some local businesses regarding languages; f) gradually replace the “hostile relationships” between old and new Chinese immigrants with “friendships and partnerships”; and g) identify Chinese newcomers as investors who need and are eager to buy educational products. The writer of this study exposes the power dynamics between the Chinese immigrants and mainstream society in Winnipeg, reveals the relationships between various Chinese sub-groups created during differing waves of immigration, and builds connections among time, space, and people. The functions and roles of linguistic landscapes in language education are discussed in the study.
linguistic landscapes, positioning theory, Chinese population, positional identities