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Journal of the International Association for Semiotic Studies / Revue de l'Association Internationale de Sémiotique

Editor-in-Chief: Danesi, Marcel

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Agenzia Nazionale di Valutazione del Sistema Universitario e della Ricerca: Classe A

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Volume 2015, Issue 207


Towards a semiotics of multilingualism

Dejan Ivković
Published Online: 2015-07-17 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2015-0051


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.

Keywords: multilingual semiosis; linguistic landscape; code-switching; semiograph; lingueme; floating umlaut


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About the article

Published Online: 2015-07-17

Published in Print: 2015-10-01

Citation Information: Semiotica, Volume 2015, Issue 207, Pages 89–126, ISSN (Online) 1613-3692, ISSN (Print) 0037-1998, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/sem-2015-0051.

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