(Re)Producing English Dominance: Linguistic Landscape and Invisibilization on a Multilingual Campus

Authors: Jason Sarkozi-Forfinski*, Oregon State University, Susan Si, Oregon State University, Yinghui Wong, Oregon State University
Topics: Cultural Geography, Higher Education, Human Rights
Keywords: Discourse analysis, English dominance, linguistic landscape, multilingualism, geosemiotics
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


In spite of the rich multilingualism of Oregon State University’s (OSU) campus, the English dominant ideological construction creates an appearance of monolingualism. Among the strategies that contribute to this reality (e.g. educational policy), visual language use in public spaces plays a conspicuous role. The importance of visibility in the discursive construction of multilingual settings has been made salient in the growing body of research on linguistic landscape. Drawing upon principles of geosemiotics (Scollon and Scollon 2003) and linguistic imperialism (e.g. Phillipson 2007), the present study explores the discursive processes through which a particular image of OSU’s linguistic sense of place, one of English dominance despite its demographic multilingualism, is constructed. Visual data (e.g. signs, announcements, menus) were collected on OSU’s campus, in major indoor/outdoor hubs throughout campus. Interviews with campus employees and students were also conducted. Data analysis shows that language choice is mediated through a variety of discourses. English is normalized as an unmarked language for all aspects of linguistic landscape, thus (re)producing national language ideologies about the status of English in what is currently known as the United States. Yet, the status that English enjoys does not go unquestioned. Other languages, like Mandarin or Arabic, are associated with the ‘internationalized’ student (Sarkozi-Forfinski and Schwartz 2018) as well as domains such as friendship.

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