A multimodal analysis of linguistic landscapes in and around Botswana parliament
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This study investigates the use of language and signage in and around Parliament of Botswana by drawing from Linguistic Landscapes (LL) found in the area. The main aim of this study is to explore the symbolic and functional values of signs and languages found in and around Parliament of Botswana. Its main objective is to analyse the visual language in display in and around Parliament looking at the visibility and clarity of language and information/ messages on the signage and to interpret the distribution and frequency of each one of the languages in signage. Secondly, considering that embassies, international companies, organizations and one of the oldest and busiest malls are within the vicinity of Parliament, the study explored whether their presence is captured in the LL.Following Gorter (2006), Shohamy and Gorter (2009) and Shohamy, Ben Rafael and Barni(2010), the data used was drawn from the different types of signs in and around parliament and its neighborhood and included signs with municipal and infrastructural discourses as well as commercial discourses. Using descriptive qualitative research and a thematic approach for data analysis, the study captures the distribution, function, composition and size, clarity of intended information or messages of language on multilingual and monophonic signs.The study gives an insight on the dominance of English against other Botswana languages in LL.In terms of language vitality, the linguistic landscape gives the incorrect picture as if English and Setswana are the only languages spoken in Botswana. Interestingly, Chinese is occasionally found in the linguistic landscape. The presence of Chinese in the shops near Parliament, I argue, is a ploy to attract people to ostensibly “cheap” products. The linguistic landscape shows the apparent contradiction in which even monuments of heroes and pictures of past “Dikgosi”(Chiefs) are constructed in English. The study further reveals even where Setswana is used it is always on bilingual signs and the quality of translation is sometimes poor. The study also suggests that most of the signage was constructed in English and then translated to Setswana. It is not surprising then that the information on the Setswana LL is not always as complete as one on English. In some cases, it says something quite unrelated to the intended message. The different signs and discourses analysed clearly show that people are aware of the signs that surround them and the marketing strategies employed. The signage revealed multiplicity and fusion of discourses with types ranging from low budget to the modern visual signs by individuals to established companies. Both the consumers and the authors are aware of the link between the LL and economics. For this reason, signage is placed where it is expected to achieve maximum visibility and for maximum consumer impact. It is not uncommon to find someone placing their LL on someone else’s, and “ambush” marketing is common place. The diversity of signs used in the study have illustrated and given an insight into the contrasting marketing strategies adopted not only by Batswana, but also by foreign investors, all vying for a piece of space in the Botswana landscape.