Multilingualism in Tokyo: A look into the linguistic landscape

Peter Backhaus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Citations (Scopus)


This paper is about multilingual signs in Tokyo. It is based on empirical research conducted in 2003. Special attention is given to the distinction between official and nonofficial multilingual signs. It will be demonstrated that the two types of signs exhibit some essentially different characteristics with regard to the languages contained and their arrangement on a sign. These differences will be interpreted using the notions of power and solidarity. While official signs are designed mainly to express and reinforce existing power relations, nonofficial signs make use of foreign languages in order to communicate solidarity with things non-Japanese. Both types of signs have their share in changing Tokyo’s linguistic landscape.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLinguistic Landscape
Subtitle of host publicationA New Approach to Multilingualism
PublisherChannel View Publications
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781853599170
ISBN (Print)9781853599163
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Japan
  • Linguistic landscape
  • Multilingualism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)


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