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Geosemiotics of Portuguese restaurants in Macau : space, place and third space as markers of a Macau identity

English Abstract

This study analyses thirty six Portuguese restaurants in Macau for the languages available to patrons in order to determine whether there are any markers of a specific Macau identity. Through photographing the linguistic landscape available from the street or public space, to photographing and making field notes of the restaurant during the course of a meal of what gives the restaurant its sense of place, to examining the languages used in the interactions between myself and staff, other patrons and staff, between patrons and between staff where possible third spaces are created as people use a variety of linguistic repertoires to communicate, data was collected and analysed through three case studies. Using concepts developed from the field of geosemiotics, such as visual semiotics, place semiotics and the interaction order, it is argued that the salience of a language and the decorative features seen outside are good predictors of a Portuguese food and language experience inside. A multimodal analysis of the language of the menus, and discourse analysis of Portuguese food naming practices, and examination of the connections made between the restaurants and the Macau community or to Portugal are used to identify the Portuguese Macau sense of place. Finally, a generic interaction order is developed following the observations made during the restaurant visits. This is then used to identify the interstitial agency leading to anomalous practices observed between the social actors in Portuguese restaurants. Interactions between the principal language users identify instances of a third space, but also an element of risk. Identifiable aspects of a Macau identity are discussed, including self-representation, food identity, gestural identity and numbers. Space, place and third space are found to be markers of a Macau identity.

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Cheetham, Alison Kathleen


Faculty of Arts and Humanities


Department of English




Sociolinguistics -- Macau

Multilingualism -- Macau

Languages in contact -- Macau


Moody, Andrew Jackson

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