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International Journal of the Sociology of Language

Founded by Fishman, Joshua A.

Ed. by Garcia Otheguy, Ofelia / Duchêne, Alexandre / Coulmas, Florian

6 Issues per year

CiteScore 2016: 0.53

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2016: 0.505
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2016: 0.716

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Volume 2013, Issue 223


Signs of absence: language and memory in the linguistic landscape of Brittany

Dick Vigers
Published Online: 2013-09-14 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2013-0051


The contemporary linguistic landscape in western Brittany, once almost exclusively French, is increasingly shared with Breton. This bold official presence on road signs appears in marked contrast to the intimations of terminal language shift that the rapidly declining number of speakers, minimal intergenerational transmission, and limited role in administration and the media suggest. The bilingual or Breton sign confuses the expected information on the geographic location and/or expected proficiency in a language (Backhaus 2007) and seems to contradict the notion that the LL (linguistic landscape) makes the “language policy … immediately apparent” (Dal Negro 2009). Rather it embodies symbolic importance as a nexus of status planning and heritage commodification whose messages both position and disturb the user (Scollon and Scollon 2003). Changes in the linguistic landscape are rationalized as the restoration of authenticity but what constitutes authenticity in an almost post-language shift environment is contested. This article suggests that some aspects of the complex relationship between sign and sign-user in Finistère can be further illuminated by framing analysis of recent debates about signage in terms of tensions between memory “makers” and “consumers” (Nora 1984; Kansteiner 2002: Assmann 1995).

Keywords: cultural memory; linguistic landscape; orthography; Finistère; place names

About the article

Published Online: 2013-09-14

Published in Print: 2013-09-14

Citation Information: International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Volume 2013, Issue 223, Pages 171–187, ISSN (Online) 1613-3668, ISSN (Print) 0165-2516, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2013-0051.

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©[2013] by Walter de Gruyter Berlin Boston.Get Permission

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