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Linguistic Landscape

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ISSN 2214-9953
E-ISSN 2214-9961

In this day and age languages surround us everywhere; languages appear in flashy advertisements and commercials, names of buildings, streets and shops, instructions and warning signs, graffiti and cyber space. The dynamic field of Linguistic Landscape (LL) attempts to understand the motives, uses, ideologies, language varieties and contestations of multiple forms of ‘languages’ as they are displayed in public spaces. The rapidly growing research in LL grants it increasing importance within the field of language studies. LL research is grounded in a variety of theories, from politics and sociology to linguistics, and education, geography, economics, and law. This peer reviewed journal publishes highly rigorous research anchored in a variety of disciplines. It is open to all research methodologies (e.g., qualitative, quantitative and others) and concerned with all domains and perspectives of LL. It will also include thematic issues around a given topic, book reviews and discussion forums.


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  • Skinscapes
    • Authors: Amiena Peck, and Christopher Stroud
    • Source: Linguistic Landscape, Volume 1, Issue 1-2, 2015, pages: 133 –151
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    • The paper argues for extending linguistic landscape studies to also encompass the body as a corporeal landscape, or ‘moving discursive locality’. We articulate this point within a narrative of a developing field of landscape studies that is increasingly attentive to the mobility and materiality of spatialized semiotics as performative, that is, as partially determining of how we come to understand ourselves ‘in place’. Taking Cape Town’s tattooing culture as an illustration, we unpack the idea of ‘the human subject as an entrepreneur of the self, as author of his or her being in the world’ (Comaroff & Comaroff, 2012: 23), by using a phenomenological methodology to explore the materiality of the body as a mobile and dynamic space of inscribed spatialized identities and historical power relations. Specifically, we focus on: how tattooed bodies sculpt future selves and imagined spaces, the imprint they leave behind in the lives of five participants in the study and ultimately the creation of bodies that matter in time and place. The paper will conclude with a discussion of what studies of corporeal landscapes may contribute to a broader field of linguistic landscape studies.
  • LL research as expanding language and language policy
    • Author: Elana Shohamy
    • Source: Linguistic Landscape, Volume 1, Issue 1-2, 2015, pages: 152 –171
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    • The paper theorizes languages in public spaces in a broad framework consisting of multiple components beyond written texts in public spaces. These include among others, visuals, sounds, movements, gestures, history, politics, location, people, bodies, all embedded in the dimensions offered by Lefebvre (1991) of spaces as practiced, conceived and lived. Relating to Linguistic Landscape (LL) as a mechanism of Language Policy (LP), the paper frames LL within current theories of LP which focus on ‘engaged language policy’ (Davis, 2014) reflecting and cultivating language practice as used by communities. The paper shows how LL is instrumental in contributing to the broadening of the theory and practice of LP, a discipline that has been mostly overlooked by LP. The studies show how language in public space was used for the revival of Hebrew in Palestine, for documentation of multilingualism in specific areas where different groups reside, for realizing that LP in public spaces is broader than written language showing how multimodalities are essential for making meaning of spaces, for discovering the wealth of LL devices used for contestations in the city, and for examining local policies in neighborhoods. Finally, the engagement of high school students with documentation of LL in their neigborhoods was found to have a real impact on LP awareness and activism.
  • Why diachronicity matters in the study of linguistic landscapes
    • Authors: Aneta Pavlenko, and Alex Mullen
    • Source: Linguistic Landscape, Volume 1, Issue 1-2, 2015, pages: 114 –132
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    • It is commonly argued that the proliferation of urban writing known as linguistic landscapes represents “a thoroughly contemporary global trend” (Coupland, 2010: 78). The purpose of this paper is to show that linguistic landscapes are by no means modern phenomena and to draw on our shared interest in multilingual empires to highlight the importance of diachronic inquiry and productive dialog between sociolinguists of modern and ancient societies. We will argue that while signs do operate in aggregate, the common focus on all signs at a single point in time on one street is problematic because the interpretation of signs is diachronic in nature, intrinsically linked to the preceding signs in the same environment and to related signs elsewhere, and the process of reading “back from signs to practices to people” (Blommaert, 2013: 51) is not as unproblematic as it is sometimes made to look.
  • Word cities and language objects: ‘Love’ sculptures and signs as shifters
    • Author: Adam Jaworski
    • Source: Linguistic Landscape, Volume 1, Issue 1-2, 2015, pages: 75 –94
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    • The focus of this paper is on language objects in contemporary ‘word cities’, or urban landscapes, shaped by art and consumer culture. I define ‘language objects’ as two- or three-dimensional pieces of writing (e.g. needlework samplers, fridge magnets, wooden or metal sculptures, etc.) that do not serve any apparent informational or utilitarian purpose, i.e. they are not ‘attached’ to or displayed on any objects with identifiable practical functions, e.g. buildings, t-shirts, mugs, paper weights, and so on. Two specific language objects considered here are Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture and a Marks & Spencer ‘love letters decoration’. It is suggested that such language objects perform largely Jakobson’s (1960) poetic function with its key focus on form. Yet, they are also instances of linguistic performances with complex trajectories of appropriation and recontextualization of prior cultural and linguistic material (Bauman, 2001; Bauman & Briggs, 1990), while their appropriation for specific ‘personal’ uses is best explained by treating them as ‘shifters’ — referential indexes, or signs constituted by the combination of their symbolic value and the communicative act itself (or ‘rules of use’) (Jakobson, 1971; Silverstein, 1976).
  • Translanguaging and linguistic landscapes
    • Authors: Durk Gorter, and Jasone Cenoz
    • Source: Linguistic Landscape, Volume 1, Issue 1-2, 2015, pages: 54 –74
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    • In this article we discuss the concept of translanguaging in relation to a holistic view of linguistic landscapes that goes beyond the analysis of individual signs. On the one hand, we look at instances of multilingual signage as a combination of linguistic resources. On the other hand, at the neighborhood level the individual signs combine, alternate and mix to shape linguistic landscapes as a whole. We expand our “Focus on Multilingualism” approach from school settings to the multilingual cityscape. One bookshop and its surrounding neighborhoods in Donostia-San Sebastián illustrate how readers navigate between languages and go across linguistic borders. Through translanguaging we foreground the co-occurrence of different linguistic forms, signs and modalities. At the level of neighborhood emerges the space in which translanguaging goes outside the scope of single signs and separate languages. We conclude that translanguaging is an approach to linguistic landscapes that takes the study of multilingualism forward.
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