WP133 Ethnographic linguistic landscape analysis and social change: A case study

Blommaert & Maly


Over the past decade, a new branch of sociolinguistics called Linguistic Landscape Studies (LLS) has emerged, as an attempt to produce accurate and detailed inventories of urban multilingualism. LLS investigate the presence of publicly visible bits of written language: billboards, road and safety signs, shop signs, graffiti and all sorts of other inscriptions in the public space, both professionally produced and grassroots. LLS offer considerable potential as a first-line sociolinguistic diagnostic of particular areas; they can at the very least protect researchers from major errors; they compel sociolinguists to pay more attention to literacy; and they compel towards historicizing sociolinguistic analysis, at least when certain conditions are met. In what follows, we shall apply the tools of LLS to a particular space, the Rabot neighborhood in Ghent, Belgium. We shall use these tools in a particular way, however, and before engaging with the neighborhood we briefly sketch our own approach to LLS.