A TALE OF FOUR TOWNS AND ENGLISH The Role of English in the Linguistic Landscape of Sweden

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för språk och litteraturer

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to expand the corpus of linguistic landscape (LL) in Sweden. However, unlike previous studies, which have typically focused on the main cities, this study explores the central parts of four different research locations in Sweden – Alingsås, Höllviken, Svedala, and Hönö – all of which are characterized by a relatively small and homogenous population (as compared to larger cities). The study identifies a high incidence of bottom-up signs in English, specifically relating to local establishments. Moreover, the study notes that English is especially visible in service-related domains; more particularly, beauty, gastronomy, and clothing, findings confirmed by previous research. Finally, the study provides a qualitative view on how the position and salience of English on multilingual signs relates to which function it performs in the LL, proposing a textual classification of signs into primary and secondary texts. The discussion shows that English, when appearing as the more prominent language in terms of code preference, generally takes on an emblematic or metaphorical function. Meanwhile, when appearing as the less prominent language, English tends to perform a referential or situational function.

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