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Multilingual signage: A multimodal approach to discourses of consumption in a South African township
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Centre for Research on Bilingualism.
University of Western Cape.
2010 (English)In: Social Semiotics, ISSN 1035-0330, E-ISSN 1470-1219, Vol. 5, 469-493 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The paper explores how global commercial discourses and the politics of aspiration in post-apartheid South Africa may be seen as contributing to the restructuring of spaces of multilingualism and the refiguring of indexical values of English and South African languages. The analysis takes its point of departure in how late-modern lifestyles, identities, aspirations and imaginations are represented across local and transnational commercial signage in the Western Cape township of Khayelitsha, focusing in particular on how different languages are multimodally constituted and differentially represented in two different sub-genres of commercial billboards. We suggest that new late-modern multimodal representations of identity, and the way multilingual resources are configured into new repertoires and genres of subjectivity, may be one important factor in how social transformation is mediated in changing perceptions and practices of language, while simultaneously and paradoxically reinforcing traditional conceptions of cultural authenticity and self-representation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010. Vol. 5, 469-493 p.
Keyword [en]
visual semiotics; multimodality; multilingualism; genre; South Africa; social transformation; identity
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
Bilingualism Research
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-53829DOI: 10.1080/10350330.2010.513174OAI: diva2:391391
Available from: 2011-01-25 Created: 2011-01-25 Last updated: 2011-01-28Bibliographically approved

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Stroud, Christopher
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ReferencesLink to record
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