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Dimensions of Sociolinguistic Landscapes in Europe

Materials and Methodological Solutions


Edited By Mikko Laitinen and Anastassia Zabrodskaja

The articles in this volume investigate everyday textual material of sociolinguistic landscapes in the early 21st century. Sociolinguistic landscapes reflect societal change, and they enable observers to map what linguistic resources are used in various contexts and to study how these resources interact and are interpreted. The articles present not only quantitative results of the presence of languages in signs but also look into how authors and designers make use of an endless pool of linguistic resources, how visible semiotic items contribute to create a sense of space, what types of mental processes are involved in the production, and how various audiences (residents, occasional passers-by, and language regulators) interpret and construct signs and sociolinguistic landscapes to form their own understanding of semiotic space.
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English on the move: What’s beyond modernity and internationalism?


1. Introduction

This article discusses the presence and prevalence of English in public spaces in one country which, in the Kachru’s (1985) paradigm, could be placed in the expanding circle.1 My observations are drawn from two field trips in Finland, a country in which the presence and importance of English has increased considerably during the past few decades as part of processes of linguistic globalization and mobility (Leppänen and Nikula 2007; Leppänen et al. 2011). The objective is to present evidence of how public signage with English are used in their context and of how such signs come to be locally interpreted in socially diverse contexts (Blommaert 2010: 2; Blommaert 2013: 118). The broad underlying aim of this article is to suggest areas for future studies on the presence of English in the expanding circle. In addition, focusing on the uses of English in public space means that this article approaches a widely-debated issue in the previous literature in linguistic landscape/signs in space studies. However, the objective here is move beyond the most obvious conclusions as to how English is used in advertisements and public signs as an index of modernity and internationalism; rather the objective is to present new ways of approaching English in sociolinguistic landscapes.2 The discussion here draws from the notions of semiotic landscapes, as suggested by Jaworski and Thurlow (2010), and from linguistic landscapes by Shohamy and Waksman (2009).

In their discussion of what actually constitutes linguistic landscape...

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