Multilingual Trends in Five London Boroughs: A Linguistic Landscape Approach

Although multilingualism has been investigated in London, no studies have addressed the multilingual linguistic landscape of this linguistically diverse globalized mega-city. In addition, no previous research has addressed the linguistic impacts of colonialism on the colonizer with respect to signage in the linguistic landscape. With increasing rates of immigration and globalization in London, it is advantageous to fully document and research the nature of the linguistic landscape in order to create a baseline for future comparison. Consequently, aspects of the linguistic landscape of five London boroughs were collected and analyzed in terms of 2,062 signage items. The study noted multilingual signage situations in each borough with respect to the formal top-down and informal bottom-up nature of the signage. The results of this study document the significant impact of colonial and EU languages on London’s linguistic landscape. These findings suggest that Britain’s colonial languages make up the majority of London’s multilingualism, followed by European Union languages. We suggest that future research attempt to track the changes of London’s linguistic landscape by comparing future data to the data presented in this study as immigration laws change.

Thesis Author: Shayla Ann Johnson

Year Completed: 2018

Thesis Chair: William Eggington


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