A Comparative Analysis of Language and Typography Between Two Chinese Enclaves in Singapore for Nostalgic Design Trends


Using the multimodality approach of Linguistic Landscape, this paper reports a comparative analysis of language composition and typographic treatment of signs found on historic shophouses in Singapore's two distinctive Chinese ethnic enclaves, Bukit Pasoh (Chinatown) and Joo Chiat Road. The choice of languages used and typographic treatment on signs are analysed in context of approaches to ‘hipster aesthetics’ in the marketing of nostalgia-based consumption, where private businesses have been observed to capitalize on signs found on traditional shophouses to appeal to consumers with nostalgic experiences. The analysis of signages on both sites utilize a substantial amount of English (both around 80%), followed by a similar significant number of signs displaying Chinese characters (20-30%) and transliteration of local Chinese vernaculars into romanised script (almost to 10%). Despite similarities in the top three languages’ makeup of both sites, further typographic study of the signs reveals that each site has developed its own unique methods for communicating nostalgia through visual means. Signages of businesses in Bukit Pasoh have been noted to retain original typography found on the shophouses as a homage to the site’s ethnic heritage, while Joo Chiat Road signages are mostly stripped of all its original typography, recreating a contemporary form of nostalgia appreciation that pays homage to Singapore’s nostalgia visual communication landscape instead. By examining other modalities such as language and cultural identification in addition to the contextual placement of typography, this paper will demonstrate how the linguistic landscape frameworks can assist designers to understand nostalgic design.

Author Information
Min-Yee Angeline Yam, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Kristina Marie Tom, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
Bee Chin Ng, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2023
Stream: Aesthetics

This paper is part of the ACAH2023 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Yam M., Tom K., & Ng B. (2023) A Comparative Analysis of Language and Typography Between Two Chinese Enclaves in Singapore for Nostalgic Design Trends ISSN: 2186-229X – The Asian Conference on Arts & Humanities 2023 Official Conference Proceedings https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2186-229X.2023.28
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.22492/issn.2186-229X.2023.28

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon