Discourse and the Linguistic Landscape

Seargeant, Philip and Giaxoglou, Korina (2019). Discourse and the Linguistic Landscape. In: De Fina, Anna and Georgakopoulou, Alexandra eds. The Handbook of Discourse Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 306–326.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108348195.015


Research into the way that linguistic and other semiotic signs are displayed in public space has opened up a productive field for social language analysis over the last few years. Often focused on the policy implications – at both institutional and grass-roots level – of public signage, linguistic landscape research has, from the very beginning, engaged with issues of politics and ideology and thus, indirectly, discourse. In recent years it has also begun to theorise the ways in which semiotic artefacts and practices generate meaning by interacting in explicitly dialogical ways. To date however, theorising that is directed specifically at the relationship between linguistic landscape studies and discourse studies has been slight. This chapter explores the nature of this relationship by focusing on select case studies which exemplify the way that acts of linguistic and semiotic display in the public arena operate as key sites for social organisation and for political regulation and contestation. These short case studies also examine how meaning is generated through complex layering of contexts, the interplay between multiple signs, the narrative potential of landscapes and the dialogic possibilities presented by social media which allow local meanings to be up-scaled and reconfigured, thus pulling site-specific semiotic events into much broader discourses.

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