Hong Kong Add Oil!’: A Multimodal Discourse Analysis of Graffiti On Hong Kong’s “Lennon Walls”

Proceedings of ‏The 2nd World Conference on Social Sciences

Year: 2021

DOI: https://www.doi.org/10.33422/2nd.worldcss.2021.02.40

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Hong Kong Add Oil!’: A Multimodal Discourse Analysis of Graffiti On Hong Kong’s “Lennon Walls”

Ho Ting Chak



A massive social event, namely the Anti-Extradition Bill Movement (Anti-ELAB) emerged as a result of the introduction of the Fugitive Offenders Amendment Bill by the Hong Kong Government in February 2019. Lennon Walls where graffiti, posters and banners were embedded in, arose after the Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced the indefinite suspension of the bill and refused its withdrawal despite numerous public demonstrations. This study proposes a multimodal discourse analysis of 150 graffiti (post-it graffiti and spray-painted graffiti) created on or around the Lennon Walls in Hong Kong between February and December 2019, to identify their linguistics and visual characteristics and examine what meanings they construct for the sign makers and viewers. The finding suggests the graffiti were predominantly written in traditional Chinese with notable examples of neologisms. Content analysis reveals that the signs and discourses represented in this particular manifestation of ‘anti-extradition bill movement’ largely index messages of encouragement, courage, freedom and the Hong Kong identity. This research illustrates a possible contribution to Sociolinguistics through the examination of the Lennon Walls as political discourse and explains how sign makers use a range of available repertories in expressing their experience and feelings during Anti-ELAB. This study seeks to expand the notion of graffiti to include post-it graffiti as a variant of the conventional spray-painted street art.

Keywords: Anti-Extradition Bill Movement; Graffiti; Political discourse; Social movement; Social semiotics.