Volume 36, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0272-2690
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9889
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Timor-Leste is a nation where three exogenous languages (Portuguese, Bahasa Indonesia, English) and one of many endogenous languages (Tetun) compete to be heard in public spaces. The constitution names both Tetun and Portuguese as co-official languages, and English and Bahasa Indonesia as working languages in the civil service; but official and de facto language policy are not necessarily the same. One mechanism that can mediate between ideology and practice, both as a way of imposing and of resisting official policy, is language in the public space. This paper demonstrates the insights that examining language in the public space can provide on language policy debates. It reports on the investigation of a linguistic landscape in Dili, the capital of Timor-Leste, and finds considerable difference between official language policy and language practices.


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