Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Mouton July 17, 2015

Towards a semiotics of multilingualism

Dejan Ivković EMAIL logo
From the journal Semiotica

Abstract

Describing the semiotic activity of multifaceted configurations of language presence in plurilingual contexts (spaces and objects) as multilingual semiosis, this article adopts a classical semiotic perspective on linguistic diversity and attendant artefacts. Accordingly, the juxtaposition of languages through associated linguistic and non-linguistic representations – embedded in a specific sociocultural and linguistic matrix – appropriates a second-order, supralinguistic layer of signification. The article develops a set of concepts and analytical tools to interpret a range of phenomena underlying the complexity and dynamism of language contact. To account for the hierarchy and semiotic flow of linguistic items and features, the article revisits the memetic concept of lingueme (cf. Croft 2000) – a linguistic type of cultural replicator – framing it as a primitive, distinctive unit of multilingual semiosis, associated with a respective language variety (lect). In its capacity as a graphic signifier, lingueme is a basic unit of semiograph, the latter concept denoting the material-digital form and conduit of the semiotic sign. In the flow of semiosis, language presence and modalities of linguistic representation may exhibit one or more of the following semiotic properties: iconicity, indexicality, and symbolicity. The semiotic properties of linguemes are examined through the analysis of the gratuitous use of two dots – here termed floating umlaut – in the branding and names of heavy metal bands.

Acknowledgement

I am grateful to Marcel Pauluk, Ljiljana Vuletić and Jürgen Spitzmüller for their comments and suggestions.

References

Androutsopoulos, Jannis.2004. Typography as a resource of media style: Cases from music youth culture. In K.Mastoridis (ed.), Proceedings of the first international conference on typography and visual communication, 381392. Thessaloniki: University of Macedonia Press.Search in Google Scholar

Androutsopoulos, Jannis.2013. Networked multilingualism: Some language practices on Facebook and their implications. International Journal of Bilingualism19(2). 185205.10.1177/1367006913489198Search in Google Scholar

Aronin, Larissa & Muiris ÓLaoire.2013. The material culture of multilingualism: Moving beyond the linguistic landscape. International Journal of Multilingualism10(3). 225235.10.1080/14790718.2012.679734Search in Google Scholar

Auer, Peter.1999. From codeswitching via language mixing to fused lects: Toward a dynamic typology of bilingual speech. International Journal of Bilingualism3(4). 309332.10.1177/13670069990030040101Search in Google Scholar

Backhaus, Peter (ed.). 2007. Linguistic landscapes: A comparative study of urban multilingualism in Tokyo (Multilingual matters 136). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.10.21832/9781853599484Search in Google Scholar

Bakhtin, Mikhail M.1981. The dialogic imagination. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.Search in Google Scholar

Barthes, Roland.1972. Mythologies. London: Macmillan.Search in Google Scholar

Barthes, Roland.1977. Elements of semiology. London: Macmillan.Search in Google Scholar

Barthes, Roland.1978. Image-music-text. New York: Macmillan.Search in Google Scholar

Beasley, Ron & MarcelDanesi.2002. Persuasive signs: The semiotics of advertising, vol. 4. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.10.1515/9783110888003Search in Google Scholar

Beckner, Clay, RichardBlythe, JoanBybee, Morten H.Christiansen, WilliamCroft, Nick C.Ellis, JohnHolland, JinyunKe, DianeLarsen‐Freeman & TomSchoenemann. 2009. Language is a complex adaptive system: Position paper. Language Learning59(1). 126.10.1111/j.1467-9922.2009.00533.xSearch in Google Scholar

Bell, Allan.2013. The guidebook to sociolinguistics. Malden: John Wiley.Search in Google Scholar

Ben-Rafael, Eliezer, ElanaShohamy, Muhammad HasanAmara & NiraTrumper-Hecht. 2006. Linguistic landscape as symbolic construction of the public space: The case of Israel. International Journal of Multilingualism3(1). 730.10.1080/14790710608668383Search in Google Scholar

Blackmore, Susan.2000. The meme machine. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Blom, Jan-Petter & JohnGumperz. 1972. Social meaning in linguistic structure: Code-switching in Norway. In John J.Gumperz & DellHymes (eds.), Directions in sociolinguistics, 407434. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.Search in Google Scholar

Blommaert, Jan & AdBackus.2013. Superdiverse repertoires and the individual. In Ingrid deSaint-Georges & Jean-JacquesWeber (eds.), Multilingualism and multimodality, 1132. Rotterdam: Sense.10.1007/978-94-6209-266-2_2Search in Google Scholar

Blommaert, Jan & BenRampton.2011. Language and superdiversity. Diversities13(1). 132.Search in Google Scholar

Campbell, Bruce.2003. Would you like umlaut with that? http://www.clicknation.com/snoof/stuff/umlaut.pdf (accessed 20 May 2015).Search in Google Scholar

Cenoz, Jasone & DurkGorter.2006. Linguistic landscape and minority languages. International Journal of Multilingualism3(1). 6780.10.1080/14790710608668386Search in Google Scholar

Chandler, Daniel.2007. Semiotics: The basics. London: Routledge.10.4324/9780203014936Search in Google Scholar

Chomsky, N.1957. Syntactic structures. The Hague & Paris: Mouton.10.1515/9783112316009Search in Google Scholar

Croft, William.2000. Explaining language change: An evolutionary approach. Harlow: Pearson.Search in Google Scholar

Croft, William.2013. Evolution: Language use and the evolution of languages. In P.Binder & K.Smith (eds.), The language phenomenon, 93120. Berlin: Springer.10.1007/978-3-642-36086-2_5Search in Google Scholar

Croft, William & David AlanCruse. 2004. Cognitive linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Curtin, Melissa.2009. Indexical signs, identities and the linguistic landscape of Taipei. In E.Shohamy & D.Gorter (eds.), Linguistic landscape: Expanding the scenery, 221237. New York: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

Dawkins, Richard.1976. The selfish gene. New York: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Deacon, Terrence W.2003. Universal grammar and semiotic constraints. In M. H.Christiansen & S.Kirby (eds.), Language evolution: The states of the art, 111139. New York: Oxford University Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199244843.003.0007Search in Google Scholar

Deely, John N.2008. A sign is what?: A dialogue between a semiotist and a would-be realist. Houston: University of St. Thomas.Search in Google Scholar

Dennett, Daniel C.1988. Quining qualia. InAnthony J.Marcel & EdoardoBisiach (eds.), Consciousness in contemporary science, 4277. New York: Clarendon Press.10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198522379.003.0003Search in Google Scholar

Gibbs, Raymond W.2010. Stability and variability in linguistic pragmatics. Pragmatics and Society1(1). 3249.10.1075/ps.1.1.03gibSearch in Google Scholar

Halliday, M. A. K.1978. Language as social semiotic. London: Edward Arnold.Search in Google Scholar

Heller, Monica.1982. Negotiations of language choice in Montreal. In J.Gumperz (ed.), Language and social identity, 108118. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511620836.009Search in Google Scholar

Hjelmslev, Louis.1963 [1943]. Prolegomena to a theory of language. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.Search in Google Scholar

Hodge, Robert & GuntherKress.1988. Social semiotics. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Ivković, Dejan. 2012. Virtual linguistic landscape: A perspective on multilingualism in cyberspace. Toronto: York University dissertation.Search in Google Scholar

Ivković, Dejan. 2013. Pragmatics meets ideology: Digraphia and non-standard orthographic practices in Serbian online news forums. Journal of Language and Politics12(3). 335356.10.1075/jlp.12.3.02ivkSearch in Google Scholar

Ivković, Dejan & HeatherLotherington. 2009. Multilingualism in cyberspace: Conceptualizing the virtual linguistic landscape. International Journal of Multilingualism6(1). 1736.10.1080/14790710802582436Search in Google Scholar

Jacobson, Claire.1963. Translator’s preface. In Claude Levi-Strauss, Structural anthropology, ix–xvi. New York: Basic.Search in Google Scholar

Jaffe, Alexandra, JannisAndroutsopoulos, MarkSebba & SallyJohnson (eds.). 2012. Orthography as social action: Scripts, spelling, identity and power. Berlin & New York: Walter de Gruyter.10.1515/9781614511038Search in Google Scholar

Jakobson, Roman.1971. Selected writings II: Word and language. Berlin: Mouton.10.1515/9783110873269Search in Google Scholar

Jaworski, Adam & CrispinThurlow (eds.). 2010. Semiotic landscapes: Language, image, space. London: Continuum.Search in Google Scholar

Johansen, Jørgen Dines & Svend ErikLarsen. 2002. Signs in use: An introduction to semiotics. New York: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

Jørgensen, Jens Normann. 2008. Polylingual languaging around and among children and adolescents. International Journal of Multilingualism5(3). 161176.10.1080/14790710802387562Search in Google Scholar

Jørgensen, Jens Normann, M. S.Karrebæk, L. M.Madsen & J. S.Møller. 2011. Polylanguaging in superdiversity. Diversities13(2). 2338.Search in Google Scholar

Kant, Immanuel.1998. Critique of pure reason, PaulGuyer & Allen W.Wood (eds.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511804649Search in Google Scholar

Klaus, George.1969. Wörterbusch der Kybernetik. Frankfurt: Fischer.Search in Google Scholar

Kravchenko, Alexander V.2007. Essential properties of language, or, why language is not a code. Language Sciences29(5). 650671.Search in Google Scholar

Landry, Rodrigue & Richard Y.Bourhis.1997. Linguistic landscape and ethnolinguistic vitality: An empirical study. Journal of language and social psychology16(1). 2349.10.1177/0261927X970161002Search in Google Scholar

Langacker, Ronald W.1987. Foundations of cognitive grammar: Theoretical prerequisites, vol. 1. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Lanza, Elizabeth & HirutWoldemariam.2013. Indexing modernity: English and branding in the linguistic landscape of Addis Ababa. International Journal of Bilingualism18(5). 491506.10.1177/1367006913484204Search in Google Scholar

Larsen-Freeman, Diane & CameronLynne. 2008. Complex systems and applied linguistics. New York: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 1950. Introduction à l’oeuvre de Marcel Mauss. In MarcelMauss, Sociologie et Anthropologie, ixlii. Paris: PUF.Search in Google Scholar

Lévi-Strauss, Claude. 1963. Structural anthropology. New York: Basic.Search in Google Scholar

Love, Nigel.2007. Are languages digital codes?Language Sciences29(5). 690709.10.1016/j.langsci.2007.01.008Search in Google Scholar

Malinowski, Bronislaw.1923. The problem of meaning in primitive languages. In C. K.Ogden & I. A.Richards, The meaning of meaning. 296336. New York: Harcourt, Brace.Search in Google Scholar

Millum, Trevor.1975. Images of woman: Advertising in women’s magazines. London: Chatto and Windus.Search in Google Scholar

Mountford, John.1979. Writing-system as a concept in linguistics. Information Design Journal1(4). 223231.10.1075/idj.1.4.02mouSearch in Google Scholar

Mufwene, Salikoko (ed.). 2001. The ecology of language evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.10.1017/CBO9780511612862Search in Google Scholar

Myers-Scotton, Carol (ed.). 1998. Codes and consequences: Choosing linguistic varieties. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Nöth, Winfried. 1995. Handbook of semiotics. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Pauluk, Marcel.2013. Multilingual information design: Some prospective research directions. In L.Fadel et al. (eds.), Selected readings of the fifth information design international conference 2011, 2746. Florianópolis: SBDI.Search in Google Scholar

Peirce, Charles S.1931–1966. The collected papers of Charles S. Peirce, 8 vols., C.Hartshorne, P.Weiss & A. W.Burks (eds.). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Piller.Ingrid2010. Multilingual prohibitions. http://www.languageonthemove.com/recent-posts/multilingual-prohibitions (accessed 31 May 2015).Search in Google Scholar

Poplack, Shana.1980. Sometimes I’ll start a sentence in Spanish Y TERMINO EN ESPAÑOL: Toward a typology of code-switching. Linguistics18(7–8). 581618.10.1515/ling.1980.18.7-8.581Search in Google Scholar

Rampton, M. Ben H.. 1990. Displacing the “native speaker”: Expertise, affiliation, and inheritance. ELT Journal44(2). 97101.Search in Google Scholar

Saussure, Ferdinand de. 1916. Nature of the linguistic sign. In Course in general linguistics, 6570. New York: Columbia University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Scollon, Ron & Suzie WongScollon. 2003. Discourses in place: Language in the material world. New York: Routledge.10.4324/9780203422724Search in Google Scholar

Sebba, Mark.2009. Sociolinguistic approaches to writing systems research. Writing Systems Research1(1). 3549.10.1093/wsr/wsp002Search in Google Scholar

Sebba, Mark.2012. Researching and theorizing multilingual texts. In MarkSebba, ShahrzadMahootian & CarlaJonsson (eds.), Language mixing and code-switching in writing: Approaches to mixed-language written discourse, 126. New York & London: Routledge.Search in Google Scholar

Shohamy, Elana.2006. Language policy: Hidden agendas and new approaches. London: Routledge.10.4324/9780203387962Search in Google Scholar

Spitzmüller, Jürgen. 2007. Graphisches Crossing. Zeitschrift für germanistische Linguistik35(3). 397418.10.1515/zgl.2007.026Search in Google Scholar

Spitzmüller, Jürgen. 2012. Floating ideologies: Metamorphoses of graphic “Germanness.” In A.Jaffe, J.Androutsopoulos, M.Sebba & S.Johnson (eds.), Orthography as social action: Scripts, spelling, identity and power, 255288. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.10.1515/9781614511038.255Search in Google Scholar

Thorne, Steven L.2009. “Community,” semiotic flows, and mediated contribution to activity. Language teaching42(1). 8194.Search in Google Scholar

Trubetzkoy, Nikolai Sergeevich. 1969. Principles of phonology, Christiane A. M. Baltaxe (trans.). Berkeley: University of California Press.Search in Google Scholar

Van, Leeuwen T.2006. “Towards a semiotics of typography.” Information Design Journal14(2). 139–155.10.1075/idj.14.2.06leeSearch in Google Scholar

Woolard, Kathryn A.1998. Simultaneity and bivalency as strategies in bilingualism. Journal of Linguistic Anthropology8(1). 329.10.1525/jlin.1998.8.1.3Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2015-7-17
Published in Print: 2015-10-1

©2015 by De Gruyter Mouton

Downloaded on 5.12.2022 from frontend.live.degruyter.dgbricks.com/document/doi/10.1515/sem-2015-0051/html
Scroll Up Arrow