Chinese-English code-mixing in the linguistic landscapes of Kuala Lumpur

Authors: Peng Junhua (Universiti Putra Malaysia, MALAYSIA)
Nor Shahila Mansor (Universiti Putra Malaysia, MALAYSIA)
Ang Lay Hoon (Universiti Putra Malaysia, MALAYSIA)
Zalina Mohd Kasim (Universiti Putra Malaysia, MALAYSIA)
Speaker: Peng Junhua
Topic: Linguistic Landscapes
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2021 General Session


The linguistic landscape is a prism to mirror the intricate and dynamic linguistic reality exposed in the public space. It provides a panoramic view of the social life and language practice in given territories. Kuala Lumpur, the capital city and commercial center in Malaysia, is well-known for its multilingualism and multicultures. Code-mixing is a phenomenon frequently taking place in Malaysian society. Although it is not allowed in the public sphere by the governmental language policy, its increasing intrusion has been displayed in the linguistic cityscapes of Kuala Lumpur. Apart from Malay-English code-mixing, Chinese-English code-mixing is also a salient phenomenon in commercial centers. Therefore, this study collected Chinese-English code-mixing by taking pictures of private signs in two commercial areas. It is a descriptive qualitative study. Bilingual public signage displayed in public spaces shows that Chinese is a minority language with strong vitality in the commercial domain, and Chinese and English are deeply embedded in Malaysian society. Meanwhile, different code-mixing types present the interactive influence between Malaysian Chinese and English. More importantly, the multilingual and multimodal linguistic landscapes display an ongoing translanguaging process in Malaysian communities. This study can shed light on the linguistic situation of Chinese and English in Kuala Lumpur. Additionally, it can provide visual evidence for the translanguaging space in the Malaysian public sphere.

Keywords: Linguistic landscape, multilingualism, English, Chinese, translanguaging, glocalization