Semiotic practices, power and identity: Linguistic landsape at the airport in Shanghai

Songqing Li, Hongli Yang

Research output: Chapter in Book or Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Semiotic landscapes at the international airport provide a fertile site for investigation of how semiotics resources are mobilized for building city identities. Grounded by the frameworks of geosemiotics and multimodal critical discourse analysis, this chapter explores the discursive construction of Shanghai as a global city in relation to the semiotic landscape at Pudong International Airport. Three research questions are addressed: a) what the identity of the global city looks like in Shanghai, b) how Shanghai is semiotically constructed as a global city and c) how it is linked to power and ideology. The 179 public signs photographed on site at Pudong International Airport were first quantitatively analyzed in relation to linguistic choice as a semiotic strategy in identity building, followed by critical qualitative analysis of some representative LL signs. The results revealed that Shanghai is constructed as open and inclusive, globally connected, pioneering and risk-taking, and committed to the world’s future through the ideological deployment of a variety of semiotic strategies. The empirical findings can open further dialogue and debate on the appropriateness and analytical power of MCDA for a critical, ethnographical examination of identity constructions in relation to the LL of particular physical locations.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLinguistic landscapes in South-East Asia
Subtitle of host publicationThe politics of language and pubic signage
EditorsSeyed Hadi Mirvahedi
PublisherRoutledge Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-003-16699-3
ISBN (Print)978-0-367-76458-6, 978-0-367-76459-3
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


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