TheLL of Luxembourg and some border considerations”Borders can bematerial or symbolic, permeable or almost impossible to cross.” (Muth, 2014). With thisdefinition Muth, 2014 alludes that borders can exist and perform beyond theirliteral meaning that of discernible separating lines of geopoliticalterritories and cultural strata. According to Newman & Paasi (1998) if wetreat the term metaphorically and not strictly in terms of “state” boundaries of”material spaces”, borders can emerge as “instrumentsthrough which social distinctions are constructed” (Newman & Paasi, 1998)(cf. Welchman).
They can even be artificially constructed, arising frommultilingual, multicultural and highly mobilized dominions in and out of theboundaries the concepts of multilingualism and multiculturalism sustain. Under this postmodern paradigm, the scope of thescholar analysis of boundaries expands from the disciplines which traditionallystudied them as geopolitical manifestations to a more multidimensional,multidisciplinary framework of inter-spatio-social narratives. These ideas,have become particularly important in the contemporary reality whereassumptions of territoriality and borders are conjoined with the re-definitionsof the relationships between physical, social, and linguistic space and thenotions of identity constructions. From a sociolinguistic perspective, the terms ofborders and boundaries can be articulatedthrough the Linguistic Landscapes especially in multilingual communities. LinguisticLandscapes are broadly defined as “The language of public road signs,advertising billboards, street names, place names, commercial shop signs, andpublic signs on government buildings combined to form the linguistic landscapeof a given territory, region, or urban agglomeration.
” (Richard & Rodrigue/Bourhis, 1997) (cf. (Purschke & Ziegler, 2014).Under this definition, different methodologicalapproaches have been used to further examine the analytical, semiotic andfunctional ( Presence of minority languages, Gorter et al. 2012, Dialects ,Reershemius 2011 , Typography of signs, Wachendorff 2015, Examination of Multilingualismwith Digital Means, Purschke & Ziegler,2015etc.) inter-relations of language and space (private, public) and the underlyingmarks of such practices.However, as Blommaert (2014) argues such effortsdemand a more holistic, ethnographic approach informed by the multimodalcontexts of the social practices and dynamics that take place in thestructuration of the postmodern “space” (Blommaert & Jan/Maly, 2014). Luxembourg, according to the official statistics (SIP,2018) has around 590,700 inhabitants with 47, 7 % of its residents beingforeigners. Analytically, with the Portuguese community being the largestwithin the Luxembourgish borders 16,4 % and the French, Italian, Belgian and Germancommunities making up the rest 16, 7 %, Luxembourg hosts around 170 differentnationalities.
The reasons for this cultural super-diversity aremainly attributed to the country’s socioeconomic supremacy that favors mobilityand its historical positioning as an independent state since 1890. (Purschke & Ziegler, 2014)Currently, Luxembourg is officially a trilingualcountry with Luxembourgish being subjected to various sociolinguistic andsociocultural processes. (Purschke & Ziegler, 2014). According to Fehlen& Heinz (2016), the multilingual practices both in the private and in thepublic spheres of Luxembourg are heavily conditioned on the socioculturalcomplexities its super-diversity generates.More specifically, Purschke (2014) suggests three mainofficial categories of linguistic practices in Luxembourg: French andLuxembourgish used in the professional and official environments, German in theschool environment and a trifold use of Fr, Ge, Ltz, in the communicativeenvironment (media, advertising, commerce etc.
). He also acknowledges theincremental use of English as “a bridging language” (Purschke & Ziegler, 2014).In this essence, this complexity of such amultilingual setting would serve as an ideal case study of its LL especiallyregarding the questions of the super constructed borders that co-emerge withthe notions of such multidimensionality. My photo expedition In my quest around the Luxembourgish territory andwith what I already had in mind through the bibliography, I came to realize, ona rather sensatory level, that the linguistic landscape of Luxembourg is atleast polymorphic, if not convoluted. For this reason, I have tried to locatedifferent types of “bottom-up” and “top-down”1,”linguistic instances” in my effort to capture the hidden messages of what mymobile lenses were trying to digitally decipher.
Interestingly enough, aftergathering all the photos together, I was able to “easily” decide on the veryones I was to include in my portfolio for very specific reasons. The social hierarchy of languages and the defied languagepolicies, the language use and the lettering system would appoint on the signs,posters and other public linguistic instances, were the first boundariesstashing behind the semiotics, I had to negotiate on a personal and perceptivelevel. For instance, Picture A-poster,exclusively in Luxembourgish, endorsed by the Government of the Grand Duchy-symbolically operates on a level of an implied language policy that ofLuxembourgish becoming more officially/broadly represented. According toShohamy (2006), the Linguistic Landscape often stands as a mechanism for thecreation of de facto languagepolicies in order for the message of the centrality of a national language tobe conveyed (Shohamy, 2006:110). On theone hand, such practices of linguistic empowerment may indeed foster the publicsense of nationhood and national identity if they fall under the broaderparadigms of “One Nation, One Language”2.In multilingual and multicultural settings, however, they may foster theclustering and consequently the isolation of minority languages and theircommunities from the public narrative as the latter may not have the means of crossingsuch linguistic boundaries.
Contrariwise, in Picture B –Smoking area at FindelAirport- the exclusive use of English can be explained in terms offunctionality regarding an internationally occupied public space, the airport.In this case, the legal restrictions on smoking in public spaces have to be clearlycommunicated as any misunderstanding, risks regulatory penalizations, ergo, theuse of the lingua franca as a bridging tactic. Here thelinguistic borders are not visible but they are rather insinuated, hence the”bridge”. What is also interesting in this picture is the existence of a veryvisible line separating smokers and non-smokers. On a sociocultural level, thedesignation of specific open smoking areas not only attests the existence oftwo cultural categories of people, smokers and non-smokers and their verysocio-defined borders but also raises questions about the fluidity and dynamicsof the open public spaces.
Can a mere line really segment something that is contiguousand abstract by definition? “These segmented and compartmentalized perceptionsof spatial images” (Tornaghi, 2015) arereproduced in the modern urban paradigm and force essentialist conceptions (seeHeewon, 1999) on the socio-relational conceptions of space. (Tornaghi & Knierbein, 2015). In pictures C and D respectively, the (co)presence andhierarchizing of the three official languages is emerged. As expected, Frenchis the dominant language “by design and typography” which can be explained bythe historical predominance of French in official administrative settings (Purschke & Ziegler, 2014).
In picture D, the use of Netherlands is alsointeresting, as the signal itself promotes the “sentiment” of the European inclusion,however if we are to accept the semantic axiom of the binary relation of “opposites” (Crystal, 2003)of word meanings then since “the word by itself is devoid of any meaningwithout the presence of its opposite”, no inclusion can “exist” without “exclusion”.(The term exclusion in the European “dictionary” has been associated by manyscholars with the existence of socio-spatial and social-cultural borders (Leontidou, Donnan, & Afouxenidis, 2005; Berezin & Schain, 2003)). 1 “bottom-up” languagedisplays: posted by private entities, “top-down” language displays: introducedby governments and corporations (Shohamy & Gorter, Linguistic Landscape: Expanding the Scenery, 2008)2 The term isborrowed by Paul Lang’s, (1995) .TheEnglish Language Debate: One Nation, One Language? (Multicultural Issues)