Transgression in institutional space : Heteroglossic political signs in a Hong Kong university

Corey Fanglei HUANG*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article studies the sociolinguistic and social semiotic transgression enacted by a group of political signs in a public university in Hong Kong. It demonstrates how the signs break normative/stabilized social, cultural and political boundaries and order by mixing up multifarious stylistic and generic resources, resulting in a heteroglossic blending of diverse, often incongruent identities, voices and ideologies predominantly rooted in the modern history of Greater China. The article suggests that this heteroglossia ideologically distances the university away from the state, defends its historical, Western-style autonomy and aligns it with the local pro-democracy civil society amid the escalating sociopolitical tensions in Hong Kong particularly after the Umbrella Movement in 2014. It shows the value of linguistic and semiotic landscape research on institutions as dynamic and complex communities and discursive spaces.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-461
JournalJournal of Sociolinguistics
Early online date1 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I would like to extend my gratitude to Adam Jaworski, Angel Lin, Jackie Lou and Tong King Lee for their constructive feedback on the texts on which this article is based. I also thank the two anonymous reviewers and editors of this journal for their substantial critical comments and suggestions on the previous versions of this article. All the remaining shortcomings are mine.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • heteroglossia
  • Hong Kong
  • institution
  • political signs
  • transgression
  • university


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