Durk Gorter (University of the Basque Country): “Advancements in linguistic landscape studies”

Please join us this upcoming Friday at 15:30 in Cobb Hall 301 (note the room change from last quarter). Once again, we will be having a special guest from abroad: Prof. Durk Gorter, who is visiting here from the Basque Country! Prof. Gorter researches pedagogy, minority languages, and contact, and will be presenting on multilingualism in Spain.

Advancements in linguistic landscape studies

The linguistic landscape regards the multiple forms of languages in our daily surroundings, that is to say, primarily words and images displayed in public spaces. The linguistic landscapes of urban contexts have changed in important ways in recent decades. Studies of the linguistic landscape are a relatively young field without clear-cut demarcation lines and fluid boundaries. In the rapidly emerging field, researchers use a variety of theoretical approaches and different research methods for data collection and analysis. Taking photographs of signage as primary empirical data is a typical characteristic of linguistic landscape studies. The publicly available “environmental print” can also be a rich resource for language learning.

Most studies take place in urban environments in different parts of the world. Our main research context is the city of Donostia-San Sebastián in the Basque Country in Spain. In this region, the minority language Basque, the majority language Spanish, the international language English and various other languages combine to form multilingual assemblages. In several projects, we have analyzed this textual and visual environment. We could show how passers-by navigate between the different languages and the value of the linguistic elements on signage for language learning practices. In this presentation, a summary overview will be given of the development of the field, of our own work and of some of the main challenges.

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