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The Linguistic Landscape: What We Can Learn from It

November 30, 2023 @ 7:30 pm9:30 pm

The Linguistic Landscape: What We Can Learn from It

Prof. Dr. Florian Coulmas

(IN-EAST Institute of East Asian Studies, University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany)

Atatürk Library, Beyoğlu – İstanbul

Thursday, 30 November 2023, 19:30


In the course of the last two decades, the linguistic landscape, that is, the display of written language in public places, has become an object of investigation which is now recognised as a branch of Sociolinguistics. This is remarkable because since its inception, Sociolinguistics, much like theoretical linguistics, has always had an oral bias and paid relatively little attention to writing, which was often seen as a mere representation of speech. In fact, written language is a branch of human communication with great social significance. In this lecture, I will show that linguistic landscaping is a political issue with many economic and cultural aspects which upon inspection reveal much about how a society is constituted. At the same time, the linguistic landscape is a repository of history which is often contested. Using examples from various contexts in Asia and Europe, I will show how and why language displayed in public texts may become and often is subject to legal restrictions designed to proscribe or, in the contrary, promote the visibility of languages in the public domain. Language, in writing as well as in speech, is always embedded in social practice. This is only pointing out the obvious. However, I will try to show that the linguistic landscape also makes for a good starting point with regard to foreign language education.

Professor Florian Coulmas holds a position as Senior Professor of Japanese Society and Sociolinguistics at the IN-EAST Institute of East Asian Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany. Past teaching and research positions include Hiroshima University (Japan), University of Düsseldorf (Germany), The National Language Research Institute (Tokyo, Japan), Georgetown University (Washington, DC), Chuo University, (Tokyo, Japan), Duisburg University (Germany) and Free University of Bozen-Bolzano (Italy). Between 2004 and 2014, Professor Coulmas was the Director of the German Institute for Japanese Studies (“Deutsches Institut für Japanstudien”), a German research institute base in Tokyo and also part of the Max Weber Foundation – German Humanities Institutes Abroad. His research interests cover, among others, demographic changes (especially in Japan), identity in all its facets, sociology of language and language policy. Recent books include: Language, Writing, and Mobility. A Sociological Perspective (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022); Ich, wir und die Anderen (Zürich: Orell Füssli, 2020); Das Zeitalter der Identität. Zur Kritik eines Schlüsselbegriffs unserer Zeit (Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2019); Identity. A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019); An Introduction to Multilingualism. Language in a Changing World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018). In 2016, Professor Coulmas was awarded the Meyer-Struckmann-Preis.


November 30, 2023
7:30 pm – 9:30 pm


Andrea Selimoğlu
+90 – 212 293 60 67
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Orient-Institut Istanbul
Şahkulu Mah., Galip Dede Cad. No. 65
Beyoğlu, İstanbul 34421 Turkey
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+90 212 293 60 67
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