Linguistic Landscapes and Superdiversity in Istanbul


This presentation reports on superdiversity in Istanbul from the perspective of a linguistic landscape analysis. Superdiversity is a term recently coined to indicate the qualitatively different demographic and social conditions of today's migrant communities in urban metropolises. Throughout its 2000 year history, Istanbul had played host to diverse ethnic communities, but the last decades of the Ottoman Empire and its collapse in 1923 coincided with massive demographic convulsions in both Istanbul and throughout the newly founded republic ā€” a result of persistent Turkification campaigns. In the past 20 years, Istanbul has experienced exponential growth attracting refugees, asylum seekers, a considerable population of Anatolian ethnic Turks and Kurds, and job-seekers from Uzbekistan to Ethiopia. This linguistic landscape analysis will detail the sociolinguistic regimes and evidence of superdiversity in today's Istanbul. A linguistic landscape analysis evaluates visible language on a city's signage. For this study, over 2600 signs along major avenues in ten representative districts were documented. I show how the linguistic landscapes in these districts and their corresponding sociolinguistic regimes have been transformed and configured by historical, social, and political contingencies. Linguistic "deposits" from the Istanbul's past are continuous reminders of the city's long history. Although Turkish dominates the linguistic landscapes of greater Istanbul today (the endpoint of the Turkification), English is the majority language in the city's international tourist districts. English, however, plays but a limited role in Istanbul's superdiversity communities. The implications of these results are discussed in light of today's shifting social and political conditions.

Author Information
John Wendel, Dokkyo University, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: HCNY2018
Stream: Language. Literature and Linguistics

This paper is part of the HCNY2018 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon