Brand names in the linguistic landscape of Aqaba, Jordan

Al-Naimat, Ghazi
Brand names in the linguistic landscape of Aqaba, Jordan. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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This study addresses the interconnections between brand names, scripts, and languages in the Jordanian context through an investigation of the brand names in the linguistic landscape (LL henceforth) of Aqaba and of Jordanians’ attitudes and beliefs towards the occurrence of these brand names in the city. For the purpose of conducting the study, six streets were selected in Aqaba city on the basis of their commercial and tourism significance. The data collected within these survey areas generated a corpus of 1,810 signs. In the Thesis brand names, which constitute 25% of the entire corpus, are divided according to two typologies: the languages of scripts, and scripts in association with the language of slogans and business names. For the former typology, the mono-script brands contain Roman, Romanised Arabic, and Arabic, and the multi-script brands contain the pairings of Arabic and Romanised Arabic, and Roman and Arabicised Roman. The second typology identifies the brand names according to four patterns: brand advertising, hybrid brand, clone brand, and brand imitation. Brand names in both typologies have been examined from the perspective of semiotics, particularly the use of ‘composition’ and ‘multimodality’ as pertinent premises of Kress and Van Leewen’s (1996) grammar of visual design. The visual semiotic analysis has uncovered that the elements of the brand names perform as toolkits to disclose different socio-cultural and symbolic meanings in connection with both global and Jordanian brand names. Whilst the Arabic-script brands reflect local cultural practices in connection with the Jordanian community, such as the significance of religion, social habits, the customs exemplified in Bedouin life, and the display of Jordanian Arabic, the global brands, generally expressed in Roman scripts, display symbolic meanings associated with prestige, youth, decoration, success, and progress in the LL. In order to test the model proposed by Tufi and Blackwood (2010) regarding the impact of the socio-economic composition of individuals on their responses to the language(s) and countries of representation of brand names’ scripts, 42 Jordanian residents of the city with different demographic backgrounds were interviewed on their understanding of 20 recurrent brand names in the LL. The analysis of the data pinpoints five broad themes and perspectives: the prestige of English, the prestige of the US, Islamic associations, linguistic nationalism, and sound suggestions. The first two of these themes highlight the positive beliefs of younger people with respect to ‘English’ and the US as prestigious labels and marks. Cosmopolitan traits enhance this perception so that LL actors and viewers participate in new social identities which, in many situations, do not belong to the local setting. As for Islamic associations and linguistic nationalism, these are mostly mentioned by middle-aged and older respondents, who associate certain brand names with the teachings of Islam and the preference of the Arabic language over foreign languages. Islamic associations in turn relate to negative political and social concepts with regard to the brands’ perceived country of representation. This extends to negative evaluations of the inhabitants’ norms and customs in the given countries, which are then transferred to the languages themselves. Responses incorporating elements of linguistic nationalism exhibit views about the decreased appearance of the Arabic language and its replacement with foreign languages, as well as the respondents’ devotion to Arabic as the language of Islam. Finally, sound associations, that is the relations between the phonological shape of the brand name and the particularities of a local language, were identified and articulated by some educated inhabitants of different age groups. The Thesis concludes by highlighting the key role of age in the identification of the diverse viewpoints regarding the perceived language(s) and countries of brand names. Jordanian linguistic preferences towards the languages of these signs are also dependent on their viewpoints on the political meanings surrounding the perceived country of the brand names. The Thesis contributes to the field of LL in so far as it provides a wealth of original data from an unexplored setting, it devises a new method of coding brand names, and it contributes to establishing a solid linguistic framework in which to place the language policy of brand names in other LLs.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: Date: 2015-11 (completed)
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2016 11:18
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2022 01:27
DOI: 10.17638/02037939