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Volume 3, Issue 1  April 2020, pp. 4-21          Download PDF

A Special Issue on Student Research
Language ideologies at work: Examining the linguistic landscape in public spaces of Coventry, England

Zeena Faulk

1 University of Warwick, United Kingdom



The rise of global migration has significantly changed how multilingualism in urban areas is studied. As such, the field of linguistic landscaping (LL) has been rapidly shifting its focus beyond LL signs to understand the semiotic construction of cityscapes and how multilingual communities share them (see Chik, Benson, & Moloney, 2019). In some cities, however, monolingualism is still preserved as a central identity throughout public spaces. This paper considers the relationship between micro-level language ideologies and the semiotic construction of space through an examination of the linguistic landscape in public spaces in the city of Coventry, UK. Despite official recognition of the high degree of ethnic and linguistic diversity within the city, English is dominant on public and private signage. This paper draws on signage data collected from two central public spaces in Coventry city centre as part of the MultiDiv summer school held at the University of Warwick in 2019. The analysis looks at the relationship between the geographical locations of the signs in selected sites and the languages displayed on them. Coventry Central Library is examined as a case study to show how micro-level language ideologies are manifested in a public place in relation to the spatial location of different categories of language signage. The study finds that English-only signs are more prominent in the city's public spaces while signs displaying English mixed with one or more community languages are pushed to the periphery. These findings contribute to the body of literature on LL in urban areas and public spaces (Shohamy, 2010) and support recent research that calls for new cosmopolitan approaches in examining language presence, use, and acts in urban public spaces (Pietikainen & Kelly-Holmes, 2013; Roeder & Walden, 2016; Da Costa Cabral & Martin-Jones, 2017; Edmond, 2017; Hatoss, 2019).


© Zeena Faulk

CC BY-NC 4.0
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Suggested citation

Zeena Faulk. (2020). Language ideologies at work: Examining the linguistic landscape in public spaces of Coventry, England. Intercultural Communication Education, 3(1), 4-21.

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