Baltic accent

2022 Vol. 13 №4

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Typographic landscape in urban space: a sociolinguistic approach



This paper suggests a sociolinguistic approach to typographic landscape analysis. Typography is discussed as a semiotic resource with meaning-making potential. The paper argues that typographic variation provides dynamic indexical links to social practice. It obtains its ‘social voice’ and becomes an integral part of the social context in which it is perceived as typical and able to generate particular socially loaded meanings. This research is in line with contemporary social semiotics, interactional linguistics, and discourse studies and is based on typographic meaning as a key notion providing the basis for social actors’ ideological ascriptions. Typography and typographic meaning formation are discussed within modern Russian urban space. It is argued that urban area enables addressing agency and interaction aspects of social communication. The city space provides access points for observing, shaping and interpreting meanings in the social context. As cases in point, the paper discusses the typefaces such as Antiqua font used in pre-revolutionary Russia, lettering imitating the font of Soviet newspapers, Handwriting font, and Stencil font and their em­bed­dedness in current socio-cultural practice. The analysis uses advertising, social and com­mercial texts. The findings indicate that typography should be considered as a social meaning which results from indexical connections of a sign and the context it is used in. Semio­tification of space allows observing stronger reflexivity and, therefore, metapragmatic activity of communicants.


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