I am currently working on a project about the linguistic landscape of Umeå (see slideshow below for a brief presentation and preliminary results).
This is a pilot study that investigates Umeå’s linguistic landscape that I conduct togheter with colleagues (researchers and teachers) with experience and interest in multilingualism and multilingual environments, from a minority and Indigenous perspective.
The languages available and visible around us, displayed in public places, have become the focus of a rapidly growing research area called linguistic landscape studies (see eg Shohamy and Gorter, 2008). A linguistic landscape is created by the combination of various forms of official and non-official signs, top-down and bottom-up, ie “Road signs, advertising billboards, street names, place names, commercial shop signs, and public signs on government buildings [in a given] territory, region, or urban agglomeration” (Landry & Bourhis, 1997: 25).
Scholars within this field of research are interested in the consequences and impact of linguistic landscapes on language revitalization and language learning. A linguistic landscape in a certain area does not only have an informative and symbolic function; it also affects a language’s vitality (Landry & Bourhis, 1997: 45).
How the Sámi languages, for example, are visible in the landscape, illustrate a hierarchical relationship between languages (Salo, 2012). Attitudes towards a language, and thereby their the visibility and use in public places, affect a language’s potential for learning and revitalization (Grenoble & Whaley 2006; Hyltenstam & Stroud 1991).
We are now working on a tool for mapping the languages we have documented in the city. I will share the results in a next post!