Mapping the linguistic landscape of a commercial neighbourhood in Central Phnom Penh
SourcetitleJournal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development
This article examines the distributional pattern of signs in the linguistic landscape of a neighbourhood in the commercial district of Phonm Penh, Cambodia. Informed by the frameworks of ethnolinguistic vitality and ethnocultural stereotypes, it discusses the developing multilingualism from socio-economic and historical perspectives. An analysis of the language distribution shows that Khmer, the national and official language of Cambodia is, unsurprisingly, numerically the most prominent language in the linguistic landscape, followed by English. The high visibility of English is remarkable given that it is a newcomer in a former Francophone space that subsequently experienced decades of a nationalistic language policy. Sometimes, the policy was marked by a strict prohibition of the teaching and use of foreign languages. The ascendancy of English has resulted in the gradual displacement of French in the past decade, although it is too early to write off the latter. Assistance leverage, globalisation, gentrification, a generational change in attitudes toward languages, the new language policy-in-education and the complex history of modern Cambodia explain the rapid 'multilingualisation' and the rise of English in the graphic environment and in the socio-economic activities. � 2012 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.