Linguistic Landscape: A Case Study of Signs in Major Transport Hubs in Thailand

Ngampramuan, Wipapan (2010). Linguistic Landscape: A Case Study of Signs in Major Transport Hubs in Thailand. MRes thesis The Open University.



This research paper is about linguistic landscape centred on the role of English as a global language for wider communication by Thai people in three major transport hubs in Thailand as case studies. Based on Kachru’s (1989) concentric circle model, Thailand is regarded as one of the Expanding Circle countries where English is taught and learnt as a foreign language, although English seems to play an increasingly important communication role across the country. This research investigates signs at Suvamabhumi airport in Samut Prakam, Don Muang airport in Bangkok and Barommaratchachonnani bus terminal, known as Southern bus terminal, in Bangkok as case studies to find out the role of English as a foreign language on Thai signs. Methodologically, the research is used quantitative methods for presenting results, while qualitative methods are used to inform the broadly sociolinguistic data analysis approach. The signs are categorised based on 1) the sense of ownership, namely, official and commercial to see the leading roles of Thai and English languages and on both official signs and commercial signs, 2) the purpose of use, namely, information and advertising to see which language is frequently used for giving information and for advertisement, and 3) the languages they display, namely, monolingual, bilingual, trilingual and multilingual to see the role of foreign language(s) on Thai signs in these transport hubs. The results point to two key issues, firstly, that English is becoming a dominant foreign language on signs in the main transport hubs in Thailand and, secondly, that the existence of English on signs is associated with the intended target audience and the number of international visitors at each data collection site.

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