Contemporary globalization and the linguistic landscape of Ethiopia

4:00pm - 5:00pm / Wednesday 13th November 2019 / Venue: Arthur West Room Abercromby SQ (south)
Type: Lecture / Category: Department
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Place and mobility: Contemporary globalization and the linguistic landscape of Ethiopia.

Speaker: Elizabeth Lanza (Centre for Multilingualism in Society across the Lifespan (MultiLing), University of Oslo )

The linguistic landscape (LL) has proven to be a fruitful approach for investigating the intersection between language, communication, and space in the public sphere in contemporary globalized society.

Space can be attributed meaning and thereby become place (Cresswell 2015), with the LL contributing to this process. Place is thus ‘social space’, which Lefebvre (1991) and Massey (2005) argue is negotiated between actors with their discursive power, material constraints, and spatial practices.

Moriarty (2014: 457) proposes investigating language practices in the LL, focusing on “language in motion, a process by which different linguistic resources are in a state of translocality, meaning they are on the move across various trajectories of time and space”.

In Professor Lanza's presentation, she will address these notions of place and mobility through an overview of work across 15 years on the LL of Ethiopia (cf. Lanza & Woldemariam 2014; Woldemariam & Lanza 2014; Blackwood, Lanza & Woldemariam 2016), older fieldwork as well as more recent fieldwork.

LL has proved valuable as a sociolinguistic lens in explorations of complex issues in Ethiopia concerning language policy, identity constructions, language contact, and the sociolinguistics of globalization with the effects of globalization magnified in the current LL of urban centers.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast says Ethiopia will be the fastest-growing economy in sub-Saharan Africa in 2018. Industrial activity, including foreign investments in infrastructure and manufacturing, is a driving force, with China being the largest investor.

In Professor Lanza's presentation, she will focus on issues of identity and authenticity (Moriarty 2015) as manifested and negotiated in the LL, across time and space. Forces of globalization and concomitant modernization of the country are in tension with the dynamics to highlight authenticity in this country with a rich African heritage. Professor Lanza will discuss the implications of different types of data in studying place and mobility in the linguistic landscape in contemporary globalization.