A Linguistic Landscape of Two Hispanic-Serving Institutions: Miami, Florida and Fresno, California

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Ailanjian, Gina Marie
Florida International University
project description
Linguistic Landscape (LL) is the study of public signage. Landry & Bourhis (1997) defined LL as “the visibility and salience of languages on public and commercial signs in a given territory or region.” These signs can be billboards, street signs, warnings, notices, public road signs, government signs, commercial shop signs, etc. The present study explores the LL of Florida International University (FIU) in Miami, Florida versus the LL of California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) in Fresno, California. Both of these universities are Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI), with a Hispanic population of 63% and of 45.7% respectively (FIU is in fact the largest HSI in the United States of America). The aims of this study were 1) to gain insight as to if the signage reflects the background of the students who attend the universities and 2) to see if the signs were displayed more in Spanish, which would serve the majority population, or the dominant language in the United States, English. The LL of the university should be an actual representation of the students that it serves. Spanish is the predominant language in Miami, Florida with about 70% of children five years and older speaking Spanish. However, in Fresno, California there is a Hispanicpopulation of 46.8% but only 29% of the population speak Spanish. An extra aspect to this study was to examine the signage in the surrounding area of FIU, the Sweetwater neighborhood. 95% of this neighborhood speaks Spanish. I believe that there will be more signage in Spanish at FIU than Fresno State because of the difference in the amount of people that speak Spanish in each city. I also believe that there will be more English signage than Spanish at Fresno State. My last hypothesis is that there will be more signage in Sweetwater than either of the HSIs.The results that were found included that there was in fact more Spanish signage at Florida International University than at Fresno State. There was also more English than Spanish at Fresno State. Finally, there was more Spanish signage in the Sweetwater neighborhood than either university.