Analyzing the multilingual landscape of Buffalo, New York.
Dixson, Amanda E.
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SubjectSigns and symbols -- New York (State) -- Buffalo (N.Y.); Intercultural communication.; Street names.
In recent years, Buffalo, New York has become home to thousands of immigrants and refugees from across the globe. These people have brought with them diverse cultures, desires for the future, and their home languages. As a designated refugee resettlement city, Buffalo is an incredibly diverse city that welcomes thousands of refugees from all over the world each year; Buffalo also has an established Latino/a community. This study examines how these linguistic communities are represented in the linguistic landscape, and what deeper symbolic meanings signs in the linguistic landscape hold for them. All signs on six streets within a two mile radius of Buffalo's most diverse neighborhoods were photographed and categorized. Signs entirely or partially in non-English languages were plotted on an electronic map and examined for potential symbolic meanings. The linguistic landscape of Buffalo, although vastly English dominant, reflects some of the diversity of the area. However, the signs in Buffalo’s linguistic landscape reveal language ideologies are present and sometimes promote one language over another. Since languages are tied to identity, relegating languages can promote ideologies against ethnic groups tied to those languages. Overall, the linguistic landscape reflects the need to learn English to function in American society, but inconsistencies are found throughout the city that reflect the presence of non-English speakers in the area, and occasionally the promotion of their culture and language.
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