LINGUISTIC LANDSCAPES OF BEIRUT

Course: ENGL 229
Terms: Fall 2015 and Spring 2016
Instructor: Dr David Joseph Wrisley @DJWrisley
American University of Beirut

THIS PROJECT IS NO LONGER BEING UPDATED HERE, BUT RATHER AT THE PROJECT PAGE.  CLICK HERE.

Our spatial humanities class project entails collection of written language data within the metropolitan area of Beirut.  It engages with research made on urban linguistic landscapes. We have chosen to focus on languages in contact–primarily written Arabic, English and French.  We are looking for different features of multilingualism in the streets: location-specific single language usage, language mixing, audience-specific non-equivalence, cross-lingual wordplay, vernacular vs official toponymy, etc.  “Linguistic Landscapes of Beirut” (formerly, Mapping Language Contact in Beirut) is inspired in part by a student final project from the Spring 2014 term on language boundaries of Beirut.  The data was collected using the mobile data collection app Fulcrum.  This project is currently unfunded.

Timeline:

20 Sept – 1 Dec: Phase 1 data collection
mid December: Phase 1 complete (about 800 data points expected, 1080 achieved)
February-May 2016: Phase 2 data collection
April 2016: Dissemination 1 (LAUD 2016 conference)

Map One:
The first map shows the progress of Phase 2 (260 points) of the Linguistic Landscapes of Beirut project (updated hourly). Click on a glyph to get a popup info window with metadata and a thumbnail of the language sample. (Total data points as of 4 March 2016 – 1265).

Map Two:
The second map visualizes the aggregate of the data from Phase 1 (Fall 2015). Click on a glyph to get a popup info window with metadata and a thumbnail of the language sample.

 

Map Three:
The third map visualizes the same data using color indicating the script used in the language data from Phase 1. Click on a glyph to get a popup info window with metadata and a thumbnail of the language sample.

Map Four: 
The fourth map visualizes the places that data collectors said they were at the moment of snapping the picture in Phase 1.  It responds to an article in the Guardian (“Mapping, Beirut style,” 2 June 2015) about how Lebanese people use landmarks and vernacular spatial indications rather than street names.

 

 

Map Five:

The fifth map illustrates the use of Western Arabic numerals in blue (0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9) vs Eastern Arabic or Arabic-Indic numerals in orange (٠ ١ ٢ ٣ ٤ ٥ ٦ ٧ ٨ ٩) in the data from Phase 1.  The city of Beirut, especially where we have a significant amount of data in the West, presents a mixture of these numeral systems. The southern highway presents mixed usage as well as the northern coast in Kesrouan. Striking is the total lack of Eastern Arabic numerals in our data for the Qada’ Metn (the northern suburbs of Beirut).

Map Six:

The sixth map shows the entire Phase 1 dataset of about 1000 data points as an animated heatmap in CartoDB. Three months (September-December 2015) have been condensed into 10 seconds.