Multilingualism in tokyo: A look into the linguistic landscape

Peter Backhaus*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

203 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
Pages (from-to)52-66
Number of pages15
JournalInternational Journal of Multilingualism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2006 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Japan
  • Linguistic landscape
  • Multilingualism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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