Rui Zhao

Thesis Working Title: A sociolinguistic study of place identity and language ideology in a Chinese linguistic landscape: the case of Xi’an

Supervisor: Professor Bettina Migge


I obtained my BA in English Language and Literature from Northwest A&F University in China and my MPhil in Literary Translation from Trinity College Dublin in Ireland. After graduation, I moved into industry and worked closely on event management solution and eLearning management in Xi’an, China. Working in an international environment encouraged my interest in how language interacts with, and is affected by, society and culture. Therefore, I returned to Ireland to further my study in linguistics and obtained my MA in linguistics from UCD in 2019. I am currently a first-year PhD student and a tutor in linguistics at UCD.

Thesis Summary

My project examines identity and ideologies in the linguistic landscape. Focusing on the displayed language in public space, the linguistic landscape provides useful cues for the sociolinguistic situation of a place. This emerging subfield of sociolinguistics and applied linguistics supplements the traditional spoken-language-based linguistic research with a systematic study of written language and relevant semiotic resources on public signage. My objective is to sketch the linguistic landscape of Xi’an – a megacity in China with over 3,100 years of recorded history, and to investigate the dynamic relationship between people, place, and language in meaning-making through the lens of the linguistic landscape. The research data will be composed of photographs of public signage, interviews with the people who produce, manage, and read public signage, and observations of semiotic resources that relate to public signage. The city’s demographics and historical background will also be consulted.