Linguistic Landscape and Symbolic construction of Multilingual Literacies: Between Creativity and Communication
Understanding communication within expanding public spaces creates the need for the interpretation of changing connections of written texts and linguistic knowledge prominent in an environment. Studies on public space language are referred to as linguistic landscape studies (LL). This study demonstrates a link between language, culture and social practices within an environment and shows how visual designs, pictures and signs transcend information for effective communication. Multilingual literacies on the other hand help in the description of the many forms of language interaction and analysis of the different domains of language use. This study thus, aims at exploring the presence of visible texts of written languages on public spaces such as billboards, road and navigation signs, shop signage’s campaign posters, graffiti and general adverts within the selected environment. This research centers on the theoretical notions of Landry and Bourhis (1997) on: “the visibility and salience of languages on public and commercial signs in a given territory or region” and Gorter (2006) who sees LL as opening a “new approach to multilingualism”. The data is collected through fieldwork, interview, participant observation and snapshots. This study argues that since linguistic landscape studies have expanded the roles and functions of creative designs, pictures and languages in different settings, language should not be the sole strategy for analyzing expressions or ideas rather linguistic landscape should also be adopted because it interprets processes, expressions and social realities in multilingual environments. This study recommends systematic description of linguistic artifacts of given environments as a means of enhancing multilingual literacy.