Andre Joseph Theng

PhD Linguistics & English Language

  • Linguistics and English Language
  • School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

Contact details


I am a sociolinguist interested in the intersection of online and offline space, religious discourses, and questions of class and identity. 


M.Phil, HKU, B.A. (Hons), NUS

Undergraduate teaching

Tutor, LEL1A (Semester 1, 2021 - 2022, 2022 - 2023)

Tutor, Sociolinguistics (Semester 1, 2022 - 2023)

Tutor, Discourse Analaysis (Semester 2, 2021 - 2022, 2022-  2023)

Current research interests

My PhD project considers Catholic discourses on social media broadly from the English-speaking Catholic world. In particular, I am interested in questions of how the widespread use of social media and the arrival of online Catholic 'influencers' as sites of authority are shaping post-Vatican II notions of ecclesiology. I consider shifts in an understanding of authority and community in the church, pointing more broadly to the extent in which institutions have power to control online discourse. I use sociolinguistic methods of multimodal discourse analysis and social semiotics in my study of religious discourse, contributing to a small but growing field of inquiry in the sociolinguistic world. 

Past research interests

My previous project considered the semiotics of 'artisanal' coffee shops in Hong Kong and Singapore, in particular how elite discourse is manifest in banal sites of everyday consumption resulting in the perpetuation of inequality.

Knowledge exchange

Theng, A. J. (2024). Catholicism and Social Media. In S. Pihlaja & H. Ringrow (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Language and Religion., Routledge. (In Press)

Militello, J., Kong, Y.L.C., Theng, A.J., Singh, J. (2023) The linguistic landscape of Lamma Island: A polycentric autoethnography of an urban–rural nexus in Hong Kong. Sociolinguistic Studies. (In Press)

Tse, V.W.S., Wu, J.Z.Z., Theng, A.J. (2023) "Money can buy health”: Risk and protection in Hong Kong’s COVID-19 advertisement-scape. Pragmatics and Society, 14(2), 257-280. doi:

Theng, A. J., Tse, V. W. S., & Wu, J. Z. Z. (2022). Complicating solidarity: The Hong Kong Covid-19 landscape. Linguistic Landscape, 8(2-3), 264-280. doi:

Theng, A. J., & Lee, T. K. (2022). The Semiotics of Multilingual Desire in Hong Kong and Singapore’s Elite Foodscape. Signs and Society, 10(2).

Theng, A.J. (2022), Elite authenticity: Remaking distinction in food discourse. Mapes, Gwynne. New York: Oxford University Press. 2021. 224 pp. Hardback (9780197533444) 81.00 GBP, Paperback (9780197533451) 25.99 GBP. J. Sociolinguistics.

Theng, A.J. (2021). When the Signs Point to Coffee, 25 Magazine, Specialty Coffee Association

Theng, A. J. (2021). Precarity and Enterprising Selves: The Resemiotization of Neon Language Objects. Discourse, Context & Media, 39, 100462.

Theng, A.J. (2019) Constructing Eliteness: The Semiotics of ‘Artisanal’ Coffee in Global Cities [Unpublished Thesis]. The University of Hong Kong

Theng, A.J. (2019). Gudrun Held (ed.), Strategies of adaptation in tourist communication. Leiden: Brill, 2018. Pp. 324. Pb. €79. Language in Society (Book Note)

Theng, A.J. (2018). Saving the King: The Pipe Organs of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd

Theng, A.J. (2018). Patrick Stevenson, Language and Migration in a Multilingual Metropolis: Berlin Lives. New York: Springer, 2017. Pp. 202. Hb. £67. Language in Society (Book Note)

Starr, R., Theng, A., Wong, K., Tong, N., Ibrahim, N., Chua, A., . . . Peh, M. (2017). Third culture kids in the outer circle: The development of sociolinguistic knowledge among local and expatriate children in Singapore. Language in Society, 46(4), 507-546. doi:10.1017/S0047404517000380

Theng, A.J. (2017). The multilingual marketplace, proficiencies and employability in neoliberal Singapore - A sociolinguistic survey of NUS students [Unpublished Thesis]. National University of Singapore.

Invited speaker

Enregistering Eliteness: Displayed Semiotics of ‘Artisanal’ Coffee Shops

Language in Context Seminar, October 2021, The University of Edinburgh

Sociology Department Seminar, October 2019, University of the Philippines Diliman

Special Lecture, Department of English and Applied Linguistics, October 2019, De La Salle University, Manila

School of English Seminar Series, September 2019, The University of Hong Kong


Saving the King: A Book Talk

library@esplanade, National Library Board, December 2018, Singapore

Papers delivered

Ethnographic Investigations into Online Ecclesial Practices: Catholic Memes on Social Media

Ecclesiology and Ethnography, The University of Durham, September 2022  

Inculturating into the Internet: Memes at the intersection of Catholic and Digital Cultures

Global Network for Digital Theology Conference, July 2022  

Visual Taxonomies and the Mediatization of Catholic Religious Life on Instagram

Department of Linguistics and English Language 15th Annual Postgraduate Conference, July 2021, Lancaster University, United Kingdom (Online)  

Who is included in ‘Together’? Conflicting Senses of Responsibility in the Hong Kong COVID-19 Landscapes

(Co-presented with Vincent Wai Sum Tse, & Jasper Zhao Zhen Wu)

The Linguistic Landscape of Covid-19: Transforming language, people, and place in a time of pandemic, June 2021, Linguistic Landscape Journal Workshop (Online)


Mediatizing the Catholic Religious Life on Instagram: A Multimodal Analysis

Linguistics and English Language Postgraduate Conference, June 2021, The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom (Online)


Between the ordinary and Extraordinary: Styling the Religious Life on Instagram

Sociolinguistics Symposium 23, June 2021, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong (Online)


Vernacular Texts, Elite Meanings: Rethinking Multilingual Signs in Urban Spaces

Georgetown University Roundtable, March 2020, Georgetown University, Washington D.C, USA (Online)


‘Their English like Power’: Enregistered Class Emblems among Singapore Youth (Co-Presented with Helen Dominic)

Georgetown University Roundtable, March 2020 Georgetown University, Washington D.C, USA (Online)


San1 Nin4/Shōgatsu: trans-cultural spatial discourse of ‘New Year’ in Hong Kong (co-presented with Jasper Wu)

Coalition of English Departments in Asia Conference, October 2019, The University of Hong Kong


The Potential of Language Objects: The Stylization and Display of Neoliberal Ideology in a Neon Sign

Coalition of English Departments in Asia Conference, October 2019, The University of Hong Kong


Taking ‘Egalitarian’ and ‘Elite’ Stances: Instascapes of the Independent Coffee Shop

11th Linguistic Landscape Workshop, June 2019, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand


The Potential of Language Objects: The Stylization and Display of Neoliberal Ideology in a Neon Sign

PhD Winter school in Sociolinguistics, March 2019, The University of Copenhagen


The multilingual marketplace, Proficiencies and employability in neoliberal Singapore -A sociolinguistic survey of NUS students

22nd Sociolinguistic Symposium, July 2018, The University of Auckland


The Language of Coffee Shops: ‘Independent’ Consumer Spaces and the Commodification of Authenticity in Global Cities

23rd International Association for World Englishes Conference, June 2018, Ateneo de Manila University


Third-Wave Coffee, ‘Independent’ sites of Consumption and the Commodification of Authenticity in Global Cities

10th Linguistic Landscape Workshop, May 2018, The University of Bern


Acquiring social evaluation in Singapore: identification and perception of regional varieties by local and foreign-born children

New Ways of Analyzing Variation (NWAV) 44, October 2015, University of Toronto, Canada