Main menu / 2018, vol.3, no.1 / I.S. Sharafutdinov

The role of English in the linguistic landscape of Kazan

I.S. Sharafutdinov

234–251 p.


DOI: DOI: 10.22378/he.2018-3-2.234-251


One of the ways to study the growing prominence of English in non-English speaking countries is to examine their linguistic landscapes. Of special interest are the bi- and multilingual regions, where English consistently finds its way amongst competition between the local and national languages. Present study explores how English proves itself in the linguistic landscape of Kazan (the Republic of Tatarstan, Russian Federation), where two languages, Russian and Tatar, have official status. Tatarstan, and especially its capital city of Kazan, is one of the leading financial, industrial, educational, cultural and touristic centres in Russia, which has recently hosted several world sport events and international festivals. This increased activity in the global arena has had an influence on the role of English in the area. Examining how English manifests against the background of the official bilingualism in the region may contribute to the discussion of spread of English on the world arena and possibilities to shift from bilingualism to multilingualism. The data was collected in May-July 2017 and includes 188 photos of all the signs found in the Bauman St., which is the central street in Kazan. The data was analysed with regard to several parameters: government or private producers of the sign, number of the languages and scripts on signs, code preference based on the semiotic features, presence and type of translation and transliteration, types of signs, types of establishments, type of information conveyed, etc. The results show that English is used intensively in the survey area, especially on the private signs, and the overall number of English texts outgrew the number of Tatar texts, despite the official status of the latter one. However, English was seldom found to be carrying complicated information and mostly was limited to simple grammar and vocabulary. Several idiosyncratic usages of English also did not speak in favour of its advanced usage. Apart from serving as an international language and conveying basic information to foreigners, English is found to be popular because of its high commercial and cultural prestige and strong association with high quality and high standards.


Keywords: linguistic landscapes, Kazan, English, Russian, Tatar.

For citation: Sharafutdinov I.S. The role of English in the linguistic landscape of Kazan. Istoricheskaya etnologiya – Historical Ethnology, 2018, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 234–251. DOI: 10.22378/he.2018-3-2.234-251


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About the author: Ilshat S. Sharafutdinov is M.A., doctoral candidate at the Department of English Linguistics, University of Regensburg (Universitätsstraße 31, Regensburg 93053, Germany); ilshat.sharafutdinov@stud.uni-regensburg.de