Linguistic Landscape Practice The case of Language Status in Oromia, Ethiopia

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Alemayehu Fekede
Wondwosen Tesfaye


This study of Linguistic Landscape (LL) examined how languages on signs in Oromia towns reflect the actual status of competing languages. The specific objectives were identifying the status of the languages in the language use domains of governmental and nongovernmental signs; the methods involved in marking status by the LL actors and the role each plays in the construction ofthe linguistic landscape. The study was conducted within the framework of pragmatism employing mixed methods. The urban environments (Adama, Jimma, and Sebeta) and key informants for the interviewwere purposively selected. Photographic data of signs (monolingual, bilingual, and multilingual, 1500 in total) were collected from downtown areas. Then, the data were organized and analyzed using an analytical tool, geosemiotics. According to the data, the status of languages in the LL as theyappear in public space, and how this is reflected on signs, Amharic, the federal working language, has significant visibility and more dominance in the whole semiotic characteristics than Afan Oromo, the official working language in the towns and in the region. The status markers of languages on signs are the presence and absence of languages from the signs, de-emphasizing of language/s in relation to the other language/s, and the amount of information provided in each language on the signs. Hence, thegovernment should practically reflect the equality of languages, and the official status of the regionallanguage should have fair visibility at least in the context of the region.

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How to Cite
Fekede, A., & Tesfaye, W. (2022). Linguistic Landscape Practice. The Ethiopian Journal of Social Sciences and Language Studies (EJSSLS), 9(2), 97-115. Retrieved from
Author Biographies

Alemayehu Fekede, Jimma University

Ph.D., Assistant Professor): Jimma University, College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Department of Afan Oromo. Email:

Wondwosen Tesfaye, Addis Ababa University

PhD, Associate Professor: Addis Ababa , College of Social Sciences and Humanities, Language Studies and Journalism and Communication, Department of Linguistics and Philology. Email: