The Hanna Holborn Gray Fellowships offer funded independent research in the humanities. We're highlighting the research of this year's fellows in a series of online profiles.
Jiayu Zhou '20, Anthropology
"The 'Mandarinization' of Philadelphia Chinatown: An Investigation and Analysis of an Ethnic Linguistic Landscape"
Abstract: Linguistic landscape refers to the linguistic signs and language-using individuals that mark the public space. This paper investigates the linguistic landscape within the main business streets of Philadelphia's Chinatown, an area constituting of over 300 businesses in diverse categories. The research employed a quantitative study that surveys the diversity of the linguistic repertoire employed by the businesses, and a qualitative study that examines the hidden motivation behind language choice in a multilingual environment. Both researches yield the big picture that the surveyed businesses manifest heteroglossia in terms of both usage of written languages (languages displayed) and usage of spoken languages. Yet in contrast to what it was decades ago, the Philadelphia Chinatown nowadays has also gone through a so-called process of “Mandarinization” to a certain extent. Specifically, the Mandarin-speaking, simplified-Chinese-using people from mainland China have wielded some power on the linguistic and commercial spheres of the place that was traditionally defined by Cantonese-speaking, traditional-Chinese-using population. The Panasian-ization and English-ization of Chinatown is also not negligible.
Was there anything surprising about the work you did for your project?
The most surprising thing about my research is the moment I realized there is too much to research about Chinatown, and my own research cannot procure a good answer. But this makes me more motivated to locate my research within the bigger picture.
What was the highlight of your work?
The highlight of my research is that I had a chance to grab lunch with my research advisor's family in Chinatown!
How will you use your research in future studies?
I will use this research as the basis for my senior thesis. In graduate school I will probably also study migration and immigrants, so it will be a good preparation in that sense as well.
The Hanna Holborn Gray Fellowships offer funded independent research in the humanities. Each summer, Bryn Mawr College awards up to 15 students a summer fellowship of $4,500 to undertake an independent research project in the humanities or humanistic social sciences. The research may either be the beginning of the senior thesis or a project that stands alone, but is relevant to their intellectual interests and must be supported by a faculty advisor.