Lecture by Elana Shohamy, March 14, 2014

Linguistic Landscape: A tool for documenting, analyzing and contesting societies and their complexities

Elana Shohamy, Professor, Tel Aviv University

Linguistic Landscape (LL) refers to languages displayed in public spaces on signs, advertisements, instructions, buildings, streets and billboards, etc. ‘Language’ within LL refers not only to written forms but also to other sources that interact in public spaces such as images, videos, graffiti, moving advertisements and sounds (‘sound-scapes’). While language in public space has been overlooked by applied linguists, it has been getting major attention in the past decade as it is anchored in disciplines such as politics, geography, urban studies, law, economics and education. ‘Who owns the public space’ and ‘who has the right to write in public spaces’ is a major question in the field of LL that leads to debates and protests. The paper will survey a number of LL studies in the above direction that point to the uses of LL for documenting multilingualism among Arabs and Jews in Israel, of the use of LL by the municipality of Tel Aviv-Jaffa versus the public in redefining the city at the event of the centennial. These will be followed by studies that address smaller units, those that focus on neighborhoods’ LL identities. The last study reports on active engagement of high school students in documenting LL and its effect on increased awareness of diversity and critical thinking regarding language representation. These studies point to the special contribution of LL research in providing knowledge about people and their environment via languages.

Friday, March 14, 2014
3 – 5 pm, B4 Dwinelle Hall


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