Language ideological debates about linguistic landscapes
The case of Chinese signage in Richmond, Canada
In 2013, Richmond city council was presented with a petition calling for the regulation of all language signs, drawing national attention to the amount of Chinese-only signage. The signage debate has become well-known in Canada as a result of the media, which has provided a platform for debate through online reader commentary. By applying concepts from linguistic landscapes, language ideologies and nationalism in addition to analytical tools from SFL, we employ critical discourse studies to examine how representations of and responses to language signage in online news commentary contribute to the construction of in-groups and out-groups in the Canadian context. Findings show that stereotypical representations of ethnicity and culture are represented as a threat to the Canadian status quo. Also, contradictory ideologies of Canadian official bilingualism are employed to justify discrimination against Chinese language speakers. Findings suggest that language ideologies remain deeply tied to understandings of Canadian nationhood and belonging.