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Language and place-making: public signage in the Linguistic Landscape of Windhoek's Central Business District

Zimny, Danielle (2017-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2017.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Investigating linguistic landscapes (LLs) has primarily been a matter of assessing language use in public signage. In its early days research in the field focused largely on quantitative analysis and typically drew direct relations between the prevalence (or absence) of languages in the public signs of an LL and the ethnolinguistic vitality of such languages. In recent years, scholars in the field have pointed out the flaws of these assumptions and taken a less determinist approach to LL study. In the present study I apply such a broader view with a multidisciplinary theoretical background. I investigate the public signage of Independence Avenue in Windhoek, Namibia, on the one hand evaluating to what extent Namibia’s language policy (LP) and the real language practices of Namibians are reflected here, and on the other how commercial and non-commercial entities place and design public signs differently and what this may reveal about their identities. In conjunction with this I examine the public signage of online platforms, which have largely been neglected in LL studies. I predominantly draw on literature from LL study, and continue to incorporate LP theory and geosemiotics to explain how public signage is used as a form of place-making by making space meaningful. Data collection for the study included two steps: the first involved taking hundreds of photographs of public signs along the physical space of Independence Avenue, and the second comprised looking at the online signage of the different entities discovered in the LL. The study is predominantly qualitative and aims to discover how language use in the LL exposes language ideologies and language practices, and how signs produced by different entities reveal acts of place-making. The LL reveals a predominance of English both in the physical and online space of Independence Avenue that contrasts with the actual language practices of most Namibians. Furthermore, the findings indicate a division of public signage into zones with markedly different characteristics, with a central zone that appears more exclusive and tourist-oriented, and two peripheral zones that instead resemble sites of necessity. The study is important because it is the first to focus on an LL in Namibia, and in addition reveals possible detrimental ideologies and practices that can be assessed further and possibly resolved.

AFRIKAANS OPSOMMING: Die bestudering van linguistiese landskappe (LLs) was nog altyd daarop toegespits om die taalgebruik in publieke tekens te assesseer. Vroeë navorsing in dié veld was hoofsaaklik van ’n kwantitatiewe aard gewees, en het gefokus op die direkte verhoudings tussen die aanwesigheid (of afwesigheid) van sekere tale in publieke tekens van 'n LL, en die etnolinguistiese lewenskrag van die betrokke tale. Na kritiese evaluasie van ouer LL studies, het navorsers sekere foutiewe aannames in die navorsingsgebied uitgewys en 'n minder deterministiese benadering tot die bestudering van LLs voorgestel. In die huidige studie pas ek so 'n breër standpunt toe met 'n multidissiplinêre teoretiese agtergrond. Ek bestudeer die publieke tekens van Independence Avenue in Windhoek, Namibia – aan die een kant evalueer ek in watter mate Namibië se taalbeleid, asook die werklike taalpraktyke van Namibiërs, hier weergegee word; aan die ander kant ondersoek ek hoe kommersiële en nie-kommersiële entiteite publieke tekens plaas en ontwerp, en wat dit moontlik oor hul identiteite openbaar. Hiermee saam ondersoek ek ook die publieke tekens van aanlynplatforms, wat grootliks in ander LL-studies verwaarloos is. In hierdie studie verwys ek hoofsaaklik na literatuur uit LL-navorsing, maar gebruik ek ook taalbeleid-teorie en geosemiotika om te verduidelik hoe publieke tekens gebruik word as 'n vorm van ‘plekmaak’ deur ruimte betekenisvol te maak. Data-insameling vir die studie het twee stappe ingesluit: eerstens is honderde foto's van publieke tekens langs die fisiese ruimte van Independence Avenue geneem, en tweedens het ek aanlyn tekens van die verskillende entiteite wat in die LL ontdek is, bestudeer. Die studie is oorwegend kwalitatief en poog om vas te stel hoe taalgebruik in die LL taalideologieë en taalpraktyke blootstel, en hoe tekens wat deur verskillende entiteite geproduseer word, handelinge van plekmaak openbaar. Die bevindinge wys dat Engels oorheersend gebruik word in Independence Avenue se publieke en aanlyn ruimtes, en dat dit die werklike taalpraktyke van die inwoners weerspreek. Verder dui die bevindinge op 'n verdeling van publieke tekens in sones met uiteenlopende eienskappe: 'n sentrale sone wat meer eksklusiewe en toeriste-georiënteerde voorkom, en twee randsones wat in daarteenstaande areas van noodsaaklikheid. Die studie is waardevol omdat dit is die eerste is om te fokus op 'n LL in Namibië, en daarbenewens openbaar dit moontlike nadelige ideologieë en praktyke wat verder ondersoek en moontlik opgelos kan word.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/102911
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