Linguistic Landscapes

“No nearing, go down” by Les Kirkham
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mapurbanlinguisticlandscape/17587482678/

The linguistic landscape is the visible language that surrounds us in our everyday life. The study of linguistic landscapes links to the themes of equity and social justice as we can ask:

  • Which languages are visible on a particular sign and why?
  • To what extent is English prevalent and are languages other than the ‘national language(s)’ present in the linguistic landscape of your university and in your city/town?
  • What functions do the languages serve in these signs?
  • How do the language(s) on signs include and exclude different people?
  • How do linguistic landscapes reflect the social and linguistic diversity of spaces?
  • How do they make people feel?

Some Further Resources:

Read: Here is a short introduction to linguistic landscapes.

Watch this brief video:

Here is a great blog about Language on the Move edited by Ingrid Piller and a team of doctoral candidates in sociolinguists based at Macquarie University. 

Activity:

Choose either a space in your university, your neighborhood, an area of a city and explore the linguistic landscape (individually or in a group). Take photos of signs and post one on a shared Padlet (click here for photos taken at university and here for photos in your town/city) with a comment. You might want to write about where the picture was taken, what each sign tells you about that space and/or the sign creator through the linguistic choices, who is included and excluded from the message in the sign. 

Please comment or ask questions on others’ padlet posts!

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