Linguistic landscapes and the making of an imagined community: Language commodification, transnational identities, cosmopolitan codes and glocalization
(Southern Illinois University)
This paper addresses on how minority languages (English and Turkish) are used, instead of and alongside German, in the linguistic landscapes of Berlin. These language choices are commodified to create an imagined community (Anderson 1983) of consumers. This community is simultaneously both part of a global market with cosmopolitan tastes and uniquely rooted in Berlin, both transnational and local. Local identities require the use of German, but global and cosmopolitan aspects of the imagined community rely heavily on English, with some evidence of glocalization (i.e., the emergence of usages of English as a global language in ways which are specific to the local community). Further, immigrant languages are used both to appeal to immigrant–background customers and to lend authenticity to particular products and services; the focus here is on Turkish because of the long history of Turkish-background residents in Berlin. Finally, in some cases both Turkish and English are used alongside German to create an imagined community which draws on the normative value of German, the cultural capital of English, and the covert prestige of Turkish.
These linguistic landscapes are significant as a reflection and reproduction of language ideologies present in Berlin, and how they contribute to the identities constructed for self and others through language choices. While the focus of this presentation is on my recent and ongoing research on these visible displays of language, I draw on previous research in German-English bilingual classrooms as well as ongoing research on discourses of national identity to address the construction of the imagined community of Berlin.