Språkliga landskap i Åbo förr och nu
Linguistic landscapes have in recent years been studied from several angles and in many different language communities. However, very few studies in the field have applied a diachronic perspective. This study aims at examining commercial linguistic landscapes in Turku, the oldest city in Finland, by focusing on how the same places in the centre of Turku are linguistically shaped a hundred years apart. Turku is an officially bilingual city, which implies that national and municipal signs need to be in the two national languages (Finnish and Swedish), in accordance with Finland’s language legislation. Commercial signs, on the other hand, are not subject to the same legal framework, which makes them an interesting object of study. The study is theoretically inspired by a view of language as social practice, as well as by ethnographic principles (e.g. Heller 2007, 2008; Blommaert 2007, 2013). Its results illustrate that the linguistic landscape of a hundred years ago shows a systematic parallel bilingualism, in which messages in Finnish and Swedish stand side by side and the same information is consistently mediated in both languages, i.e. a bilingualism that is primarily directed at monolingual recipients. The newer linguistic landscape, however, shows a more heterogeneous linguistic profile. The Swedish language has almost disappeared from the cityscape, but the importance of Finnish has also declined. Instead, English has gained an increasingly salient role, alongside a multilingualism that combines resources from different languages in a more arbitrary way, and these elements hardly ever convey the same contents. This kind of multilingualism can be characterised as postmodern and rhizomatic (Deleuze & Quattari 2015), and it is also linked to superdiversity (e.g. Blommaert 2013), but represents a multilingualism of an elite rather than a migration-based one, as the area under study offers goods and services for tastes of luxury rather than tastes of necessity (Bourdieu 1984).