Linguistic Landscapes

Linguistic Landscapes

This recycling bin is an infrastructural discourse that is part of Coventry University’s offline linguistic landscape. At an initial glace it is an top-down construct however the customization and interference with the original signposting transforms this into a bottom-up discourse. The transgressive discouse has created a sense of intertextuality in that they have used the line “Eat, Sleep, Drink, Recycle”; this is in reference to the song “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat” that resonates with the younger generation. I stumbled upon this sign when I throwing my food packaging in the bin and instantly stopped to read it. Henceforth, the affordances of this signage is that students are likely to read it as it is amusing therefore will follow its instructions. It also reads “Thank you for getting us to 55% recycling, lets keep going! BIN TRIAL TARGET: 70% target in time for Summer”. The use of the personal pronoun “you” directly includes whoever is reading it, therefore feels like a personal thank you to them, this may encourage the reader to continue recycling if they believe they are going to be thanked for it. However, there are a few constraints to this as the sign has clearly not been updated for over a year (I spoke to a staff member on the 6th floor to confirm this), a regular update on our recycling progess may encourage students further. In addition to this, there is a further transgressive sign that reads “PLEASE PUT COFFEE CUPS IN THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BIN, AS THERE ARE NON-RECYCLABLE”, this implies that many students have been putting the wrong items in the recycling bin. Although it is in capital letters, and certain words are bold and underlined; this sign is not clear and does not stand out, and rather you are automatically drawn to the first transgressive discourse. In terms of geosemiotics, these customised bins are in a section of the university in which students are allowed to eat and drink therefore it is reasonable to assume that they have been strategically placed.

It can be argued whether or not the customised signs are transgressive due to the use of the Coventry University logo – this suggests it has been approved to be used by them. However it is extremely clear that this is not an official sign, and has instead been customised, printed out and stuck on by a member of staff.

If you click this image, it will take you to the environmental section from the university campus for more details on our recycling progress.

Another example of a bottom-up infrastructure from a top-down institution is the CUSU Halloween Party poster. The CUSU has used the slogan ‘dress to distress’. My take on this is that it is a play on words of ‘dress to impress’, this creates humour and transforms the poster into a predominantly bottom-down discourse, and elicits the semantic field of ‘Halloween’. Generally, the artefact works well in that it activates the reader’s schema and uses semantic fields and visuals to imply a message, and persuade the students (and me) purchase tickets. Also, the use of the inclusive pronoun ‘your’ directly involves the reader, creating the interpersonal relationship. In terms of colour, the sign makers have purposely used colours associated with Halloween to activate our schemas. The repetition of the colour red intensifies the message, and therefore makes in stand out. The yellow and black diagonal lines almost look like danger or warning signs which would also be in line with the message that they are portraying. In addition to this, the visuals i.e. pumpkins, bats, the red sky etc also support this message.

If you click on the image, it will take you to the CUSU page.

Another example of Coventry University’s use of offline artefacts is this Black History Month poster. For me, this poster stood out straight away. I believe this is because of the bold layout and color choices, and the sheer size of the posters scattered around the campus. Considering that this is a bottom-up discourse, the use of proper sentences and lack of personal pronouns conveys this as a formal, informative poster. The reasoning behind it being informative is that it has a list of events with times, dates and locations attached. At the bottom of the poster, it reads “DIG DEEPER, LOOK CLOSER, THINK BIGGER’; the use of the imperatives creates a sense of urgency within the reader, and automatically encourages them to understand more. And the use of extremely influential figures such as Martin Luther King, coupled with the fist symbol related to the black civil rights movement activates our schema and we immediately know what the poster is addressing. The fact that these issues are still relevant in the 21st centurey society would make many readers want to attend these events to gain a deeper understanding.

If you click the image, it will take you the CUSU Black History Month page.