Elana Shohamy

The role of Linguistic Landscape as a focus of negotiations and protesting in the public space


Friday 8 November, 15.30-16, Auditorium 1

Linguistic Landscape (LL) refers to the language in public spaces, as displayed in signs, instructions, names of buildings, road names, billboards, etc.; as well as the language of the internet (a public space).  'Language' within LL  refers not only to written words, but  also to other sources that interact in transmitting messages in public spaces such as images,  video, graffiti, moving signs, and sounds (sound-scapes), as well as people and buildings. While language in public space has been mostly ignored by the field of applied linguistics it has been getting major attention in the past decade in multiple directions as it refers to the 'symbolic' representation of language. Hence, displaying languages in public spaces represents a political act of inclusion and exclusion, participation, presence and deletions of the languages and their speakers. While the inclusion of languages in public spaces can be viewed as 'functional' it is also symbolic as it serves as an act of recognition of those language communities whose languages are absent or present. This brings about debates and protest as to 'who owns the public space' and who has the right to write the public space. The paper will develop the above concepts and ideas and show how LL is placed at the centre of major political debates among different language communities regarding identity, presence and recognition and 'being'. Ways to negotiate the participation in various types of public spaces, i.e., neighbourhoods, of different language communities will be addressed and discussed within new approaches of critical language policy, i.e., participation and negotiations in making language policies.