Drive-thru linguistic landscaping: Constructing a linguistically dominant place in a bilingual space

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Drive-thru linguistic landscaping: Constructing a linguistically dominant place in a bilingual space. / Hult, Francis.

In: International Journal of Bilingualism, Vol. 18, No. 5, 2014, p. 507-523.

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TY - JOUR

T1 - Drive-thru linguistic landscaping: Constructing a linguistically dominant place in a bilingual space

AU - Hult, Francis

PY - 2014

Y1 - 2014

N2 - Despite the rich societal multilingualism of the United States, the ideological construction of English dominance continues to cast a shadow over other languages. Among the mechanisms that contribute to this state of affairs (e.g. educational policy and conservative language activism), visual language use in public spaces plays a salient role. A growing body of linguistic landscape research highlights the centrality of visual environments in the discursive construction of multilingual settings. Drawing upon nexus analysis together with principles of geosemiotics, the present study explores the discursive processes through which a particular image of San Antonio’s linguistic sense of place, one of English dominance despite its demographic bilingualism, is constructed. Visual data were collected on San Antonio’s highway system, an extensive network that traverses the city and is lined with billboard signs and commercial establishments. Data analysis shows that a confluence of (trans)national, cultural and economic discourses mediates language choices on signs. English is normalized as an unmarked language for all aspects of the linguistic landscape, reproducing national language ideologies about the status of English in the United States. Spanish, in turn, is associated with transnational migration as well as limited community and family domains.

AB - Despite the rich societal multilingualism of the United States, the ideological construction of English dominance continues to cast a shadow over other languages. Among the mechanisms that contribute to this state of affairs (e.g. educational policy and conservative language activism), visual language use in public spaces plays a salient role. A growing body of linguistic landscape research highlights the centrality of visual environments in the discursive construction of multilingual settings. Drawing upon nexus analysis together with principles of geosemiotics, the present study explores the discursive processes through which a particular image of San Antonio’s linguistic sense of place, one of English dominance despite its demographic bilingualism, is constructed. Visual data were collected on San Antonio’s highway system, an extensive network that traverses the city and is lined with billboard signs and commercial establishments. Data analysis shows that a confluence of (trans)national, cultural and economic discourses mediates language choices on signs. English is normalized as an unmarked language for all aspects of the linguistic landscape, reproducing national language ideologies about the status of English in the United States. Spanish, in turn, is associated with transnational migration as well as limited community and family domains.

KW - discourse analysis

KW - English

KW - linguistic landscape

KW - Spanish

KW - societal bilingualism

KW - visual semiotics

U2 - 10.1177/1367006913484206

DO - 10.1177/1367006913484206

M3 - Article

VL - 18

SP - 507

EP - 523

JO - International Journal of Bilingualism

JF - International Journal of Bilingualism

SN - 1367-0069

IS - 5

ER -