Semiotic Landscapes: Scaling Indonesian Multilingualism

Zane Goebel(1*)

(1) School of Languages and Cultures, The University of Queensland
(*) Corresponding Author


This article presents a very preliminary description of a sample of photos of signage (e.g. posters, signs, billboards) drawn from around six hundred photos taken in Bandung in January 2019. Drawing upon scholarship on value and scale in general, and work on semiotic landscapes in particular, this paper seeks to extend earlier analysis of multilingual signage in Indonesia. I explore how an analysis of this signage can provide insights into multilingualism, inequality, and mobility in Indonesia, as well as how different social, political, and economic regimes effect the multilingual landscape.


Indonesia; linguistic landscapes; multilingualism; semiotic landscapes

Full Text:



Agha, A. (2007). Language and social relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Appadurai, A. (1996). Modernity at large: Cultural dimensions of globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Aspinall, E., & Meitzner, M. (2019). Southeast Asia's troubling elections: nondemocratic pluralism in Indonesia. Journal of Democracy, 30(4), 104-118.

Backhaus, P. (2005). Signs of Multilingualism in Tokyo -- A Diachronic Look at the Linguistic Landscape. International Journal of the Sociology of Language(175), 103-122.

Bakhtin, M. (1981). The dialogic imagination: four essays (C. Emerson & M. Holquist, Trans.). Austin: University of Texas Press.

Bauman, R., & Briggs, C. (1990). Poetics and performance as critical perspectives on language and social life. Annual Review of Anthropology, 19, 59-88.

Blommaert, J. (2008). Grassroots literacy: writing, identity and voice in Central Africa. Oxon: Routledge.

Blommaert, J. (2010). The sociolinguistics of globalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Blommaert, J. (2013). Ethnography, superdiversity and linguistic landscapes: chronicles of complexity. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Blommaert, J. (2016). Chronotopes, scales and complexity in the study of language in society. In K. Arnaut, M. Karrebæk, M. Spotti, & J. Blommaert (Eds.), Engaging superdiversity: recombining spaces, times and language practices (pp. 47-62). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Blommaert, J. (2020). Commentary: Chronotopes, synchronization and formats. Language & Communication, 70, 132-135. doi:

Blommaert, J., & Rampton, B. (2015). Language and superdiversity. In K. Arnaut, J. Blommaert, B. Rampton, & M. Spotti (Eds.), Language and superdiversity (pp. 29-59). New York: Routledge.

Bruner, E. (1974). The expression of ethnicity in Indonesia. In A. Cohen (Ed.), Urban ethnicity (pp. 251-280). London: Tavistock Publications.

Carr, E. S., & Lempert, M. (2016). Introduction: pragmatics of scale. In E. S. Carr & M. Lempert (Eds.), Scale: discourse and dimensions of social life (pp. 1-21). Oakland, California: University of California Press.

CCB Indonesia. (2020). China Construction Bank (CCB) Indonesia. Retrieved from on 3rd June 2020

Curtin, M. L. (2015). Negotiating Differential Belonging via the Linguistic Landscape of Taipei. In S. S. B. Rubdy R (Ed.), Conflict, Exclusion and Dissent in the Linguistic Landscape. Language and Globalization. (pp. 101-122). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Dardjowidjojo, S. (1998). Strategies for a successful national language policy: the Indonesian case. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 130, 35-47.

Edmond, L. J. (2017). An evolving mainstream: A linguistic landscapes analysis of migration and assimilation in Cary, NC. Second Language Studies, 35(2), 31–64.

Errington, J. (1998). Indonesian('s) development: On the state of a language of state. In B. B. Schieffelin, K. A. Woolard, & P. V. Kroskrity (Eds.), Language ideologies: Practice and theory (pp. 271-284). New York: Oxford University Press.

Ewing, M. (2020). Localising person reference among Indonesian youth. In Z. Goebel, D. Cole, & H. Manns (Eds.), Contact talk: the discursive organization of contact and boundaries (pp. 141-159). Singapore: Routledge.

Ferguson, J., & Sidorova, L. (2018). What language advertises: ethnographic branding in the linguistic landscape of Yakutsk. Language Policy, 17(1), 23-54.

Garcia, O., & Wei, L. (2014). Translanguaging: language, bilingualism and education. UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Goebel, Z. (2010). Language, migration and identity: neighborhood talk in Indonesia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Goebel, Z. (2015). Language and superdiversity: Indonesians knowledging at home and abroad. New York: Oxford University Press.

Goebel, Z. (2017). Infrastructures for ethnicity: understanding the diversification of contemporary Indonesia. Asian Ethnicity, 18(3), 263-276.

Goebel, Z. (2020). Global leadership talk: constructing good governance in Indonesia. New York: Oxford University Press.

Goebel, Z., Cole, D., & Manns, H. (Eds.). (2020). Contact talk: the discursive organization of contact and boundaries. Singapore: Routledge.

Goebel, Z., & Manns, H. (2020). Chronotopic relations: chronotopes, scale, and scale-making. Language & Communication, 70(1), 82-93.

Gorter, D. (2013). Linguistic Landscapes in a Multilingual World. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 33, 190-212. doi:10.1017/S0267190513000020

Gorter, D., & Cenoz, J. (2020). Theoretical development of linguistic landscape studies. Linguistic Landscape, 16(1), 16-22.

Grijns, C. D. (1983). Language use in three neighborhoods of Tanah Abang: the speaker's view. NUSA, 16, 37-51.

Hatherell, M., & Welsh, A. (2017). Rebel with a Cause: Ahok and Charismatic Leadership in Indonesia. Asian Studies Review.

Heath, S. B. (1986). What no bedtime story means: narrative skills at home and school. In E. Ochs (Ed.), Language Socialization Across Cultures (pp. 97-124). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Heller, M., Bell, L., Daveluy, M., McLaughlin, M., & Noel, H. (2015). Sustaining the nation: the making and moving of language and nation. New York: Oxford University Press.

Heryanto, A. (1995). Language development and development of language: The case of Indonesia. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.

ICBC Indonesia. (2020). Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC ) Indonesia. Retrieved from on 3rd June 2020

Jaworski, A., & Thurlow, C. (2010). Introducing semiotic landscapes. In A. Jaworski & C. Thurlow (Eds.), Semiotic landscapes : language, image, space (pp. 1-40). London; New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Kitley, P. (2000). Television, nation, and culture in Indonesia. Athens: Ohio University Press.

Krisnomo, J. (2018). Nyampah teh di dieu. Retrieved from on 9th June

Landry, R., & Bourhis, R. (1997). Linguistic landscape and ethnolinguistic vitality: an empirical study. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 16(1), 23-49.

Lempert, M., & Perrino, S. (2007). Entextualization and the ends of temporality. Language & Communication, 27(3), 205-211.

Lorente, B. (2018). Scripts of servitude: language, labour migration and transnational domestic work. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Loven, K. (2008). Watching Si Doel: television, language, and cultural identity in contemporary Indonesia. Leiden: KITLV Press.

Malinowski, D. (2018). Linguistic Landscape. In A. Phakiti, P. De Costa, L. Plonsky, & S. Starfield (Eds.), The Palgrave Handbook of Applied Linguistics Research Methodology (pp. 869-885). London: Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Moriarty, M. (2014). Languages in motion: multilingualism and mobility in the linguistic landscape. International Journal of Bilingualism, 18, 457–463.

Moriyama, M. (2005). Sundanese print culture and modernity in nineteenth-century West Java. Singapore: NUS Press.

Moriyama, M. (2012). Regional languages and decentralization in post-New Order Indonesia: the case of Sundanese. In K. Foulcher, M. Moriyama, & M. Budiman (Eds.), Words in motion: language and discourse in post-New Order Indonesia (pp. 82-100). Singapore: National University of Singapore Press.

Mulia, P. (2017, 2nd June). Masjid berarsitektur klenteng untuk pembauran di Bandung Retrieved from on 4th June 2020

Nurwansah, I. (2015, 23 December). Kesalahan penulisan aksara Sunda di plang jalan kota Bandung., portal manuskrip Sunda. Retrieved from on 4th June 2020

Oconnor, B. H., & Zentz, L. R. (2016). Theorizing mobility in semiotic landscapes : Evidence from South Texas and Central Java. Linguistic Landscape. An international journal, 2(1), 26-51.

Pavlenko, A., & Mullen, A. (2015). Why diachronicity matters in the study of linguistic landscapes. Linguistic Landscape, 1(1-2), 114-132. doi:

Pemerintah propinsi Jawa Barat. (2020). Pemeritah propinsi Jawa Barat: lambang dan motto. Retrieved from on 9th June

Pemerintak kota Bandung. (2020). lambang dan bendera. Retrieved from on 8th June

Pennycook, A. (2010). Language as a local practice. New York: Routledge.

Pennycook, A. (2018). Linguistic Landscapes and Semiotic Assemblages. In M. Pütz & N. Mundt (Eds.), Expanding the Linguistic Landscape. Linguistic Diversity, Multimodality and the Use of Space as a Semiotic Resource (pp. 75-88). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Pietikäinen, S., & Kelly-Holmes, H. (Eds.). (2013). Multilingualism and the Periphery. New York: Oxford University Press.

Pradewo, B. (2018, 30th May). Melihat keunikan Masjid Al Imtizaj bergaya arsitektur Tionghoa. Retrieved from on 4th June 2020

Prasatya, S. T. (2020). PIPPK, otonomi daerah ala kota Bandung. Retrieved from on 10th June

Rampton, B. (2006). Language in late modernity: Interaction in an urban school. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ricklefs, M. C. (2001). A history of modern Indonesia since c.1300 (3rd edn.) (3rd ed.). Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.

Rohmah, Z. F., & Zuliati. (2018). Linguistic Landscape in Sidoarjo City. Journal of Literature and Language Teaching, 9(2), 96-116.

Rutherford, D. (2015). Introduction: about time. Anthropological Quarterly, 88(2), 241-249.

Schieffelin, B., Woolard, K., & Kroskrity, P. (Eds.). (1998). Language ideologies: Practice and theory. New York: Oxford University Press.

Scollon, R., & Scollon, S. W. (2003). Discourses in place: language in the material world. London: Routledge.

Sen, K., & Hill, D. T. (2000). Media, culture and politics in Indonesia. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Shohamy, E. (2017). Linguistic Landscape: Interpreting and Expanding Language Diversities. In A. De Fina, D. Ikizoglu, & J. Wegner (Eds.), Diversity and Super-Diversity (pp. 37-63). Georgetown: Georgetown University Press.

Silverstein, M., & Urban, G. (1996). The natural history of discourse. In M. Silverstein & G. Urban (Eds.), Natural histories of discourse (pp. 1-17). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Spolsky, B. (2020). Linguistic landscape. Linguistic Landscape, 6(1), 1-14.

Stiglitz, J. (2006). Making Globalization Work. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Stroud, C., & Mpendukana, S. (2009). Towards a material ethnography of linguistic landscape: Multilingualism, mobility and space in a South African township. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 13(3), 363-386.

Taylor-Leech. (2020). Timorese talking back: the semiotic construction of chronotopes in the Timor Sea protests. Linguistic Landscape, 6(1), 29-51.

Uhlenbeck, E. M. (1964). A critical survey of studies on the languages of Java and Madura. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.

Vertovec, S. (2017). Talking around super-diversity. Ethnic and Racial Studies, (Special Issue), 1-15. doi:10.1080/01419870.2017.1406128

Wibowo, W. (2018, 19th February). Masjid Lautze 2 dan Al Imtizaj: Masjid bernuansa oriental di kota Bandung. Retrieved from on 4th June 2020

Wikipedia. (2020). Lambang Jawa Barat. Retrieved from on 9th of June

Zentz, L. (2017). Statehood, scale, and hierarchy: history, language, and identity in Indonesia. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.


Article Metrics

Abstract views : 3885 | views : 2682


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Humaniora

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

free web stats Web Stats

ISSN 2302-9269 (online); ISSN 0852-0801 (print)
Copyright © 2022 Humaniora, Office of Journal & Publishing, Faculty of Cultural Sciences, Universitas Gadjah Mada