Depicting the Visual Linguistic Landscape of Dhaka University Campus

Author: Razaul Karim Faquire (Institute of Modern Languages, University of Dhaka, Bangladesh)
Speaker: Razaul Karim Faquire
Topic: Language in Real and Virtual Spaces
The (SCOPUS / ISI) SOAS GLOCAL CALA 2020 General Session


This study aims at depicting the visual linguistic landscape of the Dhaka University campus. Linguistic landscape is the “visibility and salience of languages on public and commercial signs in a given territory or region” (Landry and Bourhis 1997:23). It reflects a composite picture of spontaneous attitudes, thoughts and movement of the people of a particular region. Therefore, a collection of photos inscribed on various media as a whole depicts a visual linguistic landscape of that region. Dhaka University is a wide area (240 hectares) containing different administrative, academic and residential institutions as well as various governmental and non-governmental formal and informal institutions. It is now inhibited by about 1,00,000 people including teachers, students, official staffs and other outsiders supporting their lives and living of the people of Dhaka University campus.

In order to fulfill the aim of the study, I have taken photographs of all written themes inscribed on all kinds of media like noticeboard, signboard, banner, poster and walls in and around the Dhaka University campus and organized them in 16 posters. In this survey, I found that the visual linguistic landscape of Dhaka University Campus can be characterized in terms of a) nature of themes and b) usage of languages. The themes reflected on the visual linguistic landscape can be classified into personal, official, administrative, cultural, political etc. The themes portrayed with the languages are Bangla, English (and rarely in Arabic) or mixed language resulted from admixture of Bangla and English. The language usages can be described as the increasing number usage of i) English in inscribing the official notice, ii) that of calque in naming the institutions, and iii) that of mixed language resulted from the admixture of English and Bangla in inscribing cultural programs on the banner or poster.

Hence, the visual linguistic landscape created through this survey can be described as the contemporary canvas of the spontaneous attitudes, thoughts and movements of the people of Dhaka University campus.

Sebba, Mark (2010). “Review of Linguistic Landscapes: A Comparative Study of Urban Multilingualism in Tokyo.”. Writing Systems Research. 2(1):73–76.doi: 10.1093/wsr/wsp006

Keywords: Linguistic Landscape, Survey, Calque, Code-Mixing, English, Bangla, Dhaka University