Multilingualism in the linguistic landscape of urban Jordan

Alomoush, Omar
Multilingualism in the linguistic landscape of urban Jordan. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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The main purpose of this study is to investigate language practices in the linguistic landscape (LL) of Jordanian cities. There have been few research studies that examine the LL of Jordanian cities, and none has investigated multilingualism. This study is intended to fill this gap in LL research. By means of qualitative and quantitative methods, it aims to discover the extent to which multilingualism is reflected in the LL. The main fieldwork was conducted in November and December 2012 in urban Jordan. Ten streets were selected in each of six major Jordanian cities, including Irbid, Salt, Zarqa, Amman, Karak and Aqaba, sixty streets in total. A LL item represents ‘any piece of text within a spatially definable frame’ (Backhaus, 2007). 4070 signs were recorded as multilingual (c. 51%), whereas 3967 signs were categorised as monolingual (c. 49%). To discover correlations between types of signs and existing languages and scripts, and to measure these against conflicting language policies, signs are categorised as ‘top-down’ or ‘bottom-up’. The notions of ‘code preference’ (Scollon & Scollon, 2003) and dynamics of language contact are employed to understand the semiotics of writing in the LL of Jordanian cities. The main data findings indicate that minority languages are almost absent, so a questionnaire was introduced as an additional supportive source to the analysis of the findings, providing a qualitative dimension to the study. The study was conducted in July 2013, during which period the researcher interviewed 32 participants. The primary objective of this secondary study is to reflect on plausible reasons explaining the limited presence of minority languages in the visual public space. The main data indicate a dominance of both Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and English on signs, because they are closely related to Arab nationalism and globalization respectively. Jordanian Arabic is deleted from the top-down LL, because it is closely linked to informal domains. Classical Arabic (CA) is mainly used to convey religious functions in the LL. Mixed codes, Romanised Arabic (RA) and Arabacised English (AE), are commonly used in the LL to reflect ‘glocalisation’. French, German, Italian, Spanish, Turkish and Russian are found mainly to be used on brand name and business name signs for reasons of European linguistic fetishes and tourism. The data indicate that minority languages are significantly marginalised on both top-down and bottom-up signs. Several reasons lie behind the limited visibility of established minority languages in the LL. Spatial distribution of migrant communities, the small size of minority communities, lack of (sufficient) institutional and parental support, migration and absence of close ties with families and linguistic peers are behind different stages of language maintenance and shift among older migrant groups. Linguistic russification, hostility, instrumentality of both Arabic and English and top-down language policies enacted by the Jordanian government contribute to the limited visibility of minority languages in the LL. Although foreign workers’ minority languages tend to be maintained, the instrumental functions of both Arabic and English, Islam, and the small sizes of economic minority groups have each played a key role in the limited visibility or invisibility of minority languages in the LL.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Date: 2015-05-15 (completed)
Subjects: ?? P1 ??
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 30 Jul 2015 15:24
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2022 01:38
DOI: 10.17638/02012500