Examining the Communication Value of X in the Linguistic Landscape of Dar es Salaam: A Social Semiotic Analysis

Author: Dr. Paschal Mdukula (University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
Speaker: Dr. Paschal Mdukula
Topic: Linguistic Landscapes
The GLOCAL AFALA 2023 General Session


The cities around us are marked by many semiotic signs which present to us different communication cues. This paper examines the communicative value as represented by the sign X in the linguistic public space in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Through social semiotic analysis, the paper argues that the sign X carries many meanings to the people of all walks of life in the area of study. The study employed observation and interview methods to study the meanings of the sign X. A total of 103 students at the University of Dar es Salaam were involved as participants through questionnaire who gave many meanings of the sign X as applied in different fields. This was complemented by observation method in which the sign X was observed in the linguistic public space and through use of digital camera in which the signs with X were taken and subjected for social semiotic analysis to study what they meant to the people in the study area. For example, wherever you see a sign X with the word bomoa (demolish) or ondoa (remove) or without a word, you know you are in danger, that anytime from now you will be visited by the government authorities and if you fail to comply within the given time, a squad of armed people will do the job of demolishing or removing the facility as a way of clearing the area for government projects.

Keywords: Sign X, social semiotic, public space, Linguistic Landscape, communication