The Linguistic Landscape of China: A Field-Based Study of an Ancient Town’s Historical Precinct

Rong SHENG, John Buchanan


This study comprises an empirical LL case study in Datong, an ancient town of China. Specifically, it focuses on the top-down (government) and bottom-up (commercial and other) linguistic landscape of historic Lanxi Street as its research setting.
The paper draws on theories of LL studies to examine the use of written language on signs in the public area of a historical street. The study analyzed the differences between official signs and unofficial signs, and to identify characteristics that might be specific to a historic precinct. The researchers compared the linguistic landscape of Lanxi Old Street with an urban commercial street in Tongling City, to examine the differences and their causes between a small, heritage town and a city. Based on a mixed-methods research design, the data of this paper incorporate photographs, interviews and questionnaires, which were analyzed with the help of SPSS. This empirical study sheds light on protect heritage LL to preserve its own characteristics against the flow of globalization and the worldwide domination of English in the context of a sociolinguistics approach.


Linguistic Landscape; Ancient town; Historical street; Heritage linguistic landscape

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