The linguistic landscape of Kampala: The case of shop signs
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This dissertation, with a focus on shop signs, investigates the linguistic landscape (LL) of Kampala. The objectives of this study were to find out the languages which appear on the commercial shop signs in Kampala; to find out the patterns of language choices on commercial shop signs; to analyse the motivations behind language choices on commercial shop signs and to examine whether Uganda’s official language policy influences the language choice of the shop owners pertaining to the linguistic code to be used on their shop signs. In this study, I used a multi-method approach involving interviewing, observation, photography and note taking. Using a theme-based triangulation approach, the findings were cross-referenced for validity, reliability and generalisability. By taking and analysing signs of 115 commercial shops and 21 interviews conducted with shop owners, I analysed the language of shop signs in Kawempe Division, Kampala District and thereafter provided explanations behind the shop owners’ language choices. The study findings reveal English and Luganda as the most salient languages in the LL of Kampala. English emerges as the language that dominates on both monolingual and bilingual signs followed by Luganda. The study also revealed Luganda as a language that commands an informational function in the LL of Kampala while the prolific presence of English is merely symbolic arising from the power and prestige attached to it. Furthermore, findings from this study indicated that Uganda’s official language policy indirectly influences shop owners’ language choices on their shop signs. The study recommends that the government maps out strategies which can lead to the embrace of Swahili if it is to have a practical significance as the second official language of Uganda. More so, this study recommends that shop owners should take an active role in the making of the signs which they display on their shop facades.