chapter  7
24 Pages

Language in the public space

In general, those in authority use language in the public space to deliver symbolic messages about the importance, power, significance and relevance of certain languages or the irrelevance of others. On the other hand, it is also the case that groups and individuals in the private domain feel manipulated by symbolic displays of language in the public space and protest against it, either by displaying items in “other languages” that provide different and contradictory symbols or by preventing the display of any verbal languages in the public space, as they perceive it as an imposition on their personal freedom and/or ideologies. Such phenomena are often observed in protests against globalization, as the use of the English language on billboards

symbolizes and represents for these groups aspects of globalization, colonialism and further evidence of domination. Similarly, groups that strive to revive or obtain recognition for their perceived neglected identities will use the public space to present their language publicly on billboards, road signs, public advertisements, names of buildings, streets and so on.