‘Akuchanywa apha please’ No peeing here please: The language of signage in Cape Town

  • Dowling T
  • Town C
  • 6

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Abstract

This article examines the language used on both formal and informal signage in Cape Town. Using the theory of geosemiotics with examples of actual signage, I discuss the semantic vulnerability of language when a sign is used outside its intended context; the sociolinguistic implications of poor translations; the phenomenon of monolingual and bilingual signage as opposed to trilingual signage; the symbolic hegemony of English and Afrikaans over Xhosa; and the lessons that can be learnt from language used on informal township signs and advertisements.

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Authors

  • Tessa Dowling

  • Cape Town

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