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  • More than a Mere “Welcome” – The Linguistic Landscape of Welcome Signs in Palestinian Localities in Israel

    The article offers a critical reading of the linguistic landscape of welcome signs in localities of the Palestinian minority in Israel. It examines the formal visual aspects of the languages Arabic, Hebrew, and English, their placement on the signs, and the signs’ content—including the normative messages, translation, transliteration, and place-names. These analyses shed light on the links between the linguistic landscape and the sociopolitical and socioeconomic status of the Palestinian minority, as well as on the perceptions of Palestinian citizens regarding their relationship with the Jewish majority. The study reveals that despite the official status of welcome signs, their linguistic landscape presents an array of attitudes toward coping with the Israeli reality and its injustices. The study shows how the local Arab political leadership in Israel mobilizes linguistic authority as a platform for negotiation with the Jewish majority and represents a sociolinguistic strategy of highlighting a complex history while minimizing the potential for friction inherent in that space. The contents of the welcome signs to Arab localities reflect and reproduce the power structures in the State of Israel. The article demonstrates that the dichotomous division of top-down and bottom-up signs is not unequivocal and that there is room that for semiofficial space and an intermediate category between the hegemony and the subaltern.

  • Names under Supervision: Israeli Linguistic Regulation of Arab Streets – Turʿan as a Case Study

    The present article contributes to the local study of street signs, and more generally, of majority and minority language representation. It analyzes the street signs set up by the Turʿan municipality in the North of Israel during the term of the town’s Jewish mayor Yaakov Zohar (2008-2013), shedding light on the impact of top-down political processes on the design of Arab space, its interpretation by a municipality headed by an agent of the establishment, and the namings’ implications for the Arab minority’s spatial socialization. Through the names selected and the visual and orthographic characteristics of the linguistic landscape, the article highlights the politics of shaping cultural and historical identity in physical space. The visual characteristics examined are related to the visibility of the two languages—Arabic and Hebrew—or more specifically, to the representation of one as opposed to the deliberate marginalization of the other. My reading of street signs is informed by critical toponymy and semiotics, which emphasize the ideological meanings inherent in the depth structures of names and visual communication products. I consider the initiative by a Jewish mayor to name the streets of Arab Turʿan an attempt to influence the spatial awareness of its Arab inhabitants in keeping with the values of the establishment.