Studie z Aplikované Lingvistiky (Dec 2017)

From Linguistic Landscape to Semiotic Landscape: Indigenous Language Revitalization and Literacy

  • Lorena Córdova Hernández,
  • Mario E. López-Gopar,
  • William M. Sughrua

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 8, no. 2
pp. 7 – 21


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For endangered indigenous languages in Mexico, new forms of symbolic representation have been generated by linguistic landscapes. These forms involve the written use of these languages in public spaces, which in turn (re)incorporates the languages into traditional and new contexts. In addition, linguistic landscape production aids indigenous language literacy. Yet the notion of linguistic landscape seems limited to alphabetic writing and grammar standardization through the production of signage, outdoor advertising, and signs. Usually the social actors involved in linguistic landscape production, such as researchers, activists, and public officials, do not recognize the linguistic landscape as inseparable from the concepts of indigenous people. This article argues that the relationship between linguistic landscape and indigenous concepts cannot be mediated only through the linguistic landscape itself, but also through the interconnection of language and remembering as well as the retrieval of the endangered language through strategies of recalling experiences mediated through that particular language. These additional dimensions involving remembering and retrieval become what we refer to as the semiotic landscape. This landscape, including multimodal and multiliteracy methodologies (Kress, 2009), can be considered a channel of language revitalization, as it serves as a space for the interconnection between language and remembering. In this manner, the semiotic landscape allows written language (discourse) to interact with other discourses (visual images, spatial practices, and cultural dimensions), thereby aiding the emergence of indigenous self-representation and cultural values and hence working toward language revitalization. In particular, this pathway to language revitalization can be seen when considering the Ixcatec language in southern Mexico.