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Linguistic landscapes and the African perspective(s)

Chapter in book
Authors Karsten Legère
Tove Rosendal
Published in Expanding the Linguistic Landscape: Linguistic Diversity, Multimodality and the Use of Space as a Semiotic Resource / edited by Martin Pütz and Neele Mundt.
Pages 153-179
ISBN 9781788922142
Publisher Multilingual Matters
Place of publication Bristol
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Languages and Literatures
Pages 153-179
Language en
Keywords East Africa; empowerment; ethnolinguistic; grassroots initiatives; ideology; indexicality; language politics; official languages; power relations; sub-Saharan Africa
Subject categories African languages, General Language Studies and Linguistics, Languages and Literature


This chapter focuses on sub-Saharan Africa and examines the linguistic landscape (LL) in three countries, i.e. Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda, which represent typical linguistic patterns found in this region. In multilingual Tanzania, the national language Swahili (spoken as a first or second language by the overwhelming majority of Tanzanians) enjoys a prominent status in the country’s LL. In linguistically heterogeneous Uganda, the official language English is widely used in public in the capital and its cityscape, while to a certain extent at the regional level Ugandan languages can be traced in LL documents and elsewhere. Although Rwanda has a single national language, which is the mother tongue of almost 100 per cent of the population, the country promotes official multilingualism (the languages are Rwanda, French, English and Swahili); this is also represented in LL examples in this chapter.

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