Polycentricity of Linguistic Landscape and Nation-Building in Post-Soviet Kazakhstan Open Access
This study illustrates a key existing challenge to realizing trilingualism as a major nation-building language ideology: the ideological polycentricity of multilingual signs—that is, the simultaneous orientation of multilingual signs to several authority centers. Combining diverse linguistic landscape (LL) methodologies such as code preferences (language choices and placement on a sign), indexical orders (patterns that index meta-messages), and polycentricity (a simultaneous orientation toward multiple centers), I examine how three state-approved languages (Kazakh, Russian, and English) are positioned on 346 state and private signs in a small town in northern Kazakhstan. The analysis reveals a range of indexical orders at the level of sign type: monolingual, bilingual, and trilingual sign types of horizontal, vertical, and centralized code combinations. At the level of signage group, bilingual Kazakh-Russian and trilingual Kazakh-Russian-English signs dominate in the top-down group, while monolingual Russian and bilingual Kazakh-Russian signs with centralized Russian dominate in the bottom-up group. The identified indexical orders indicate ideological polycentricity in town public signage, which presents a challenge for the nation-building process.
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