Linguistic landscapes and multilingualism

Authored by: Elana Shohamy

The Routledge Handbook of Multilingualism

Print publication date:  May  2012
Online publication date:  May  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415496476
eBook ISBN: 9780203154427
Adobe ISBN: 9781136578144


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The study of Linguistic Landscape (LL), referring to research about the presence, representation, meanings and interpretation of language displayed in public places, has become a dynamic area of research in the past decade. Languages are spoken and heard, they are also represented and displayed, at times for functional reasons, at other times for symbolic purposes. These items offer rich and stimulating texts on multiple levels: single words with deep meanings and shared knowledge, colourful images, sounds and moving objects, billboards, graffiti as well as a variety of text types displayed in cyber space, open without being physically present. All these items shape the ecology in local, global and transnational contexts and in multiple languages. Most studies of LL build on a definition offered by Landry and Bourhis:

The language of public road signs, advertising billboards, street names, place names, commercial shop signs, and public signs on government buildings combines to form the linguistic landscape of a given territory, region, or urban agglomeration.

(1997: 25)

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