Our Linguistic Landscapes project is going to be focused on libraries. As a library is quite a formal space, non-verbal, semiotic language is often used to direct library patrons in their experience, potentially as a way to minimize spoken language in the formal library space. As a start on the project, we have begun to work out a framework of tasks and refine our aims.

The preliminary work on this topic has found us trying to refine exactly what we are looking for and what to look at. These first few weeks have been mainly occupied with identifying the task at hand and dividing the tasks up.

The main aim of our research report is to investigate and report upon the linguistic landscape of libraries. We have decided that this is an important landscape as libraries are a cultural sanctuary of written language, but noted for their refraining of verbal language. We are interested in not only the semiotic landscape of signs to be found in the landscape, but also the dialogue and language that is used in different library contexts.

The libraries we are choosing to investigate (roughly one per group member) vary from university (formal and informal spaces within these), state library (top-down) and local libraries to reveal a more informal and potentially representative space of languages other than English that mirror demographic variances found in those areas. These spaces will give us data surrounding the usage of language across various degrees of formality surrounding the space. The demographic data surrounding local libraries will be examined from official Australian Bureau of Statistics data. By talking and recording not only patrons of the library, but also the staff, we will be able to identify the formality of the space, and identify how it plays a role in the linguistic landscape.

A further aim we are interested in is the demarcation of the space of the library. Many libraries have a vestibule or area of transition from the outside world to inside the space of the library. This serves to increase the formality of the space from outside life. Thus, we will also compare the signage and transitions into the library spaces across our different locations and hope to see how they differ or correlate.

When talking to the patrons and staff, we will have common sets of questions to ask them. Also we will record for a set timeframe some linguistic utterances or conversations taking place in the different libraries, while obtaining the relevant permission surrounding use of this data collection. Photographs will be taken of any salient signage or semiotics that are present in our chosen linguistic landscapes. The placement and language used on the signs will be noted and analysed. Other aims and methodology of collecting data we have not yet formulated will be constructed over the following few weeks.

In the interest of efficacy of our efforts towards the project, we have prepared an outline of where we want to be in the tasks. This schedule will help us stay on track and hit milestones in our task development. We have allocated the first few weeks to preliminary task identification and laying foundations for our work. The middle weeks of the project will be utilised for data collection and analysis. The final weeks will be used to discuss data and correlate and interpret differences between the levels of formality and context that we have chosen to investigate. Theoretical discussions will be researched during this time for critical analysis of our research and for explanation of the findings we discover.

This blog space will be updated weekly, with a different writer (or two) for every week as we will decide. Recommendations from other group members on interesting finds from the weeks topic will be communicated and incorporated into the blog entry if applicable. The blog will be further used for communicating our progress, but also to explore any interesting finds or things we don’t expect. We look forward to undertaking this task and investigation of our chosen linguistic landscape.