Published online by Cambridge University Press: 08 May 2017
In this article I address a number of recent controversial language-related incidents and ideological statements regarding the use of French in the public sphere by Flemish nationalist aldermen in two Flemish towns. By drawing on interviews with different stakeholders (shop owners, aldermen, and passers-by), I address the different perceptions and ideological indexicalities of French shop names and signs in these Flemish contexts. In the data, the indexical field (Eckert 2008) of French in Flanders emerges as both polyvalent and indexically ordered, while the Flemish nationalist interpretations involve rescaled and historically recursive indexical meaning that can only be understood vis-à-vis the historical language ideological debate in Belgium. Language use in the public sphere has thus become a tool to impose monolingual ‘doxic logics’ (Bourdieu 1977) in Flanders, in spite of the fact that commercial and private language use is not regulated by language laws in Belgium. (Flemish nationalism, language ideologies, linguistic landscape)*
This research was supported by a doctoral grant by the FWO Research Foundation Flanders. I am grateful to the anonymous reviewers and the editor, Jenny Cheshire, for their insightful and valuable comments. I would also like to thank Stef Slembrouck, in particular, as well as Rudi Janssens, Luk Van Mensel, Katrijn Maryns, Jürgen Jaspers, and Mieke Van Herreweghe for commenting on earlier versions and presentations of this article. Any errors remain my own.
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