Norwegian version of this page

Multilingualism in Linguistic Landscapes: Practices and Ideologies

The linguistic landscape refers to the use of written language(s) and other semiotic resources in the public sphere, and is a new approach to the study of multilingualism.

A big billboard for Yordanos restaurant.

A sign in Amharic and English in Tigray, Ethiopia.

Photo: Elizabeth Lanza

About the project

This project focuses on linguistic practices and language ideology in multilingual communities through the investigation of the linguistic landscape, that is, the use of written language(s) and other semiotic resources in the public sphere, a new approach to the study of multilingualism. The main concentration in our work has been on the study of the linguistic landscape at the margins in Africa, with a focus on Ethiopia and the Ethiopian diaspora in the US.

Background for the project

This project emerged from the ETHIOLING: Vernaculars in Ethiopian Schools project, which was a joint research project between the University of Oslo and Addis Ababa University on the Ethiopian Educational Policy and its implementation with specific reference to the use of local languages in schools. The ETHIOLING project was funded from 2001 to 2006 by The Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Education (SIU/Diku), previously called NUFU.

About the study of linguistic landscapes

The study of linguistic landscapes has led to a growing interdisciplinary field. A network of researchers first met in Tel Aviv for the first of a series of Linguistic Landscape workshops and Linguistic Landscape 8 will be held at the University of Liverpool, UK, in April of 2016. Furthermore, in 2015 an international journal dedicated to the field was launched by John Benjamins Publishing Company.


Hirut Woldemariam, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia


2015. Hirut Woldemariam & Elizabeth Lanza. Imagined community: The linguistic landscape in a diaspora. Linguistic Landscape 1:1/2: 166–184.

2014. Elizabeth Lanza & Hirut Woldemariam. English in Ethiopia: Making space for the individual in language policy. In Challenges for Language Education and Policy. Making Space for People. Edited by Bernard Spolsky, Ofra Inbar-Lorie & Michal Tannenbaum. Routledge.

2014. Elizabeth Lanza & Hirut Woldemariam. Multilingualism and local literacy practices in Ethiopia: Language contact in regulated and unregulated spaces. Multilingual Margins, University of the Western Cape, South Africa.

2014. Hirut Woldemariam & Elizabeth Lanza. Language contact, agency and power in the linguistic landscape of two regional capitals in Ethiopia. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 228: 79 - 103.

2013. Elizabeth Lanza & Hirut Woldemariam.  Indexing modernity: English and branding in the linguistic landscape of an African capital. International Journal of Bilingualism 18 (5): 491-506.

2012. Hirut Woldemariam & Elizabeth Lanza. Religious wars in the linguistic landscape. In Linguistic Landscapes, Multilingualism and Social Change. Edited by C.Hélot, M. Barni, R. Janssens & C. Bagna. Peter Lang Vorlag.

2008. Elizabeth Lanza & Hirut Woldemariam. Language ideology and linguistic landscape: Language policy and globalization in a regional capital of Ethiopia. In Linguistic Landscape. Expanding the Scenery . Edited by Elana Shohamy & Durk Gurter, 189 - 205. Routledge.

Tags: Multilingual language practices, Multilingual ideologies and language policies
Published Dec. 8, 2013 10:44 PM - Last modified Jan. 31, 2021 2:57 AM