Reflective Essay #2: Linguistic Landscape

You have already taken a/some picture(s) of the linguistic landscape on your neighborhood. Now, we are going to analyze what this/these sign(s) mean(s) from a linguistic, sociolinguistic, and ideological point of view.

First, describe the linguistic landscape sign(s) – Be as specific as you possible (location, languages, color, size, letters, fonts etc. (A person must be able to visualize the sign without having access to the picture). Here you have a link that can be helpful about the sign(s): https://lingscape.uni.lu/whats-in-a-sign/

Jan Blommaert claims that linguistic landscape analysis offers a first diagnostic of the language situation of a certain area (street, village, building, country, online environment). This might include questions of multilingualism, dominance of languages, language policies. In a linguistic landscape analysis the focus can be on questions such as:

  • How many and what languages occur on signs in a specific public space
  • Are the signs monolingual, bilingual, multilingual and in what ways, i.e. what combinations of languages do occur
  • Are different languages used for different contents and in different domains
  • In what forms do signs occur (notice boards, traffic signs, billboards, shop windows, posters, flags, banners, graffiti, menus, T-shirts , Facebook, Twittter, Instagram, Blogs, Websites)
  • What about the language in terms of normativity: orthography, handwriting conventions, lexicon, syntax, literacy level (here)

What is the linguistic landscape telling us? As we talked in class, sign(s) could have an indexical meaning. What is the sign(s) you have encountered indexing? For example, how does the sign(s) inform us about the neighborhood/community? Demographics, stratification of individuals, organization of the linguistics and social practices, relationships, political and power relations, identity/identities, etc.

Answering such questions leads to a first and general sociolinguistic descriptions of the linguistic landscape under investigation. A next step would include a more in-depth analysis and interpretation of the signs. A central notion in doing so is the notion of indexicality. This means looking at deeper layers of meaning connected to the signs that can explain what they refer to in addition to their referential meaning. These layers of meaning might be connected to the three arrows that each sign has: a backward arrow, pointing at the past, i.e. at the producers of the sign in a specific historical time and space and the conditions of production; a forward arrow, pointing at the future, i.e. at the addressees of the sign and the conditions for uptake; and a sideways arrow, pointing at the present, i.e. at the specific emplacement of the sign among other signs (here)

What can you tell us about the community/neighborhood beyond the sign(s)? There are other non-linguistic factors or aspects that could be relevant to your analysis such as smells, sounds, people stories, specific places, and so on. How/what/why do they complement (or not) your analysis?

Case study example here – based on Ghent, Belgium.

As we did in Reflective Essay #1 make sure to add two questions at the end of your draft in order to be able to receive feedback from your classmates.

Draft: You must upload a draft of each assignment by the due date – You must upload the draft to the site as a post and categorize the post as “Reflective Essay # 2.”

Your draft is a preliminary version – Remember that during drafting, the writer puts his ideas into complete thoughts, such as sentences and paragraphs. The writer organizes his ideas in a way that allows the reader to understand his/her/their message.

Since this is your first draft, you should have questions, make sure to add two questions at the end of the draft (questions can be general, regarding the content of your essay, or specific, just regarding one example). For example: “I think that I have described my language in detail, but do you think that the examples that I have used support my argument?” / I found really hard to think about my own language(s), and language attitudes, do you think I am being too superficial in my analysis?”

Final version: Submit a hard copy in class on the due date.

Your paper should be no more than 2 pages, with 12pt Times New Roman Font and 1inch margins. If you are using any material that is not your own in the paper, please cite (APA or MLA style).

Failure to submit on time will result in reduction of grade. Late assignments: 5% will be deducted each day including days we do not meet that an assignment is late. Late assignments will NOT be accepted after 5 days.