Behind the Linguistic Landscape of Israel/Palestine : exploring the visual implications of expansionist policies
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The concept of the Linguistic Landscape (LL) is a relatively new and developing field, but it is already proving to illuminate significant trends in sociocultural boundaries and linguistic identities within heterogeneous areas. By examining types of signage displayed in public urban spaces such as street signs, billboards, advertisements, scholars have gained insight into the inter and intra-group relations that have manifested as a result of the present top-down and bottom-up language ideologies. This paper will apply LL theory to the current situation in Israel and the Palestinian territories through a discussion of the various policies that have shaped the Linguistic Landscape. It will begin by examining the Hebraicization of the toponymy after the creation of Israel, then discuss the conflict over the linguistic landscape, which can be seen in several photographs where the Arabic script has been marked out or covered. Moving forward, this work will address the grammatical errors on Arabic language signs, which reflect the low priority of Arabic education in Israel. Finally, this project will expand upon the LL framework by looking at the economic relationship between Israel and the Palestinian territories and how it is reflected in public places, such as supermarkets, which display an overwhelming presence of Hebrew. Through the use of photographic evidence of the LL from the region, which shows the prevalence of Hebrew place names, Israeli economic goods, and negative attitudes towards the use of Arabic on signage, this paper will take a multidisciplinary approach at examining the history and policies that shape the language used in public urban spaces. The relationship between the state and the Linguistic Landscape sheds light on the power dynamics of a multilingual space. As Hebrew is given preferential treatment, despite the official status of both Arabic and Hebrew, Israel continues to dominate the social space with the use of Hebrew in order to assert their claims to the land. In addition to investigating the power dynamics that are reflected on visual displays of language in this region, this work serves as a meaningful contribution to the Linguistic Landscape by expanding its methodology and units of analysis.