Linguistic landscape in a city of migrants: a study of Souk Naif area in Dubai

Source of Publication

International Journal of Multilingualism


© 2020, © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This paper presents the first in-depth analysis of linguistic landscape (LL) of a migrant area in Dubai. While Arabic is the official language of the country, few foreigners learn it and English has become the lingua franca that allows migrant communities to communicate. Nonetheless, English and Arabic are mother tongues to a minority of resident population. A multitude of other languages are spoken among expatriates. Despite that variety, the visibility and salience of particular languages in LL is a reflection of, most often, their differing social standing. As such, this research shows how multilingualism, language contact, social hierarchy as well as official policies with regards to language use in UAE, have led to the minimisation of third languages use in LL. Through a multilingual analysis of signs in Souk Naif area, this research provides important insights on the meaning of linguistic landscapes in cosmopolitan cities in the Arabian Gulf, specifically, how bottom-up sign makers negotiate the public space, why English is the primary language used, and finally, why high levels of multiculturalism lead to deterritorialisation and commodification of languages in LL.

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Author First name, Last name, Institution

Magdalena Karolak, Zayed University