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Discourses in transit.

Sebba, Mark (2010) Discourses in transit. In: Semiotic Landscapes: Language, Image, Space. Continuum, London. ISBN 9781847061829

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Abstract

Recently, a number of frameworks have been put forward which provide approaches to the interpretation of bilingual and multilingual public texts such as street signs. In particular, the notion of ‘linguistic landscapes’ (Bourhis & Landry, 1997; Gorter, 2006) provides a way of thinking about multilingual public texts as reflections of the multilingual composition of an urban area, while Scollon and Scollon (2003) analyse signs, including bilingual signage, in terms of the ‘semiotics of place’, using a framework which includes visual and textual components of signs as well as their geographical location. In this chapter I argue that fixed signs may indeed be valuable indicators of such things as multilingual composition of a community, public debates about language, public policy goals, and power relations between languages, but they should not be seen in isolation from other types of public texts which are not fixed in space. ‘Unfixed’ or ‘mobile’ public texts, for example in the form of product labels, pamphlets, banknotes, stamps, tickets, handbills, flyers and general ‘ephemera’, are pervasive in contemporary society. Some of these connect to fixed texts (like street signs and billboards) via logos, colour schemes, layout and content. They are amenable to similar kinds of analysis in terms of their structure, layout and visual imagery. What is more, mobile texts require ‘reading’ in the same kind of way as fixed texts – for example, authority and authenticity are indexed in the same (or similar) ways. Both fixed and mobile texts may be involved in more than one discourse, for example a bus timetable may tell you about bus times but also about the importance of different places along the route and the kind of people who might be expected to use the bus services; these messages are likely to be reinforced (or occasionally contradicted) in various ways by the fixed signage of bus shelters, road markings etc., and are accessible to readers, although they are not part of the overt message. Thus while fixed signage is undoubtedly of great interest in its own right, it needs to be seen and analysed as a subset or ‘special case’ of the set of all public texts, which also includes mobile or ‘non-fixed’ public texts.

Item Type: Contribution in Book/Report/Proceedings
Uncontrolled Keywords: linguistic landscape bilingual signs public signage mobile public texts semiotic analysis multimodal analysis Manx language language policy language planning Afrikaans
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Departments: Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences > Linguistics & English Language
ID Code: 27751
Deposited By: Dr Mark Sebba
Deposited On: 26 Oct 2009 09:17
Refereed?: No
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2012 21:37
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/27751

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