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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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Social media landscapes: Tracing the uses and functions of a hybrid sign


1. Focusing on social media landscapes

The various social media form a significant part of the semiotic landscapes today. In the Western world, a great part of the adult population uses a range of internet-based applications both at work and at home. Adolescents, in turn, may even be described as digital natives (Prensky 2001), meaning that they have spent much of their lives using various technological applications, playing games, browsing the internet, and participating in social activities through applications. It is fair to say that computers and various internet-based social media applications have become an important space where people spend time, encounter and make use of semiotic signs. These social media applications offer activities and a space for social interaction for a growing number of people. In addition, there exists considerable diversity in terms of activities in which people participate. They range from blogs to innumerable chats rooms and to highly diverse social media groups where practically any topic may be discussed (e.g. Vertovec 2007; Blommaert and Rampton 2011).

It might not be too far-fetched to say that these various social media spaces form real places for many people. These spaces could be compared to spending spare time and encountering semiotic signs in a real physical space, such as moving around in a city, taking a walk, or engaging in mediated activities such as movies. The change whereby social media has emerged as a space has been extremely rapid, permanent, and holistic. The concept...

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