If Signs Could Talk: The Linguistic Landscape of the Archipelago of San Andres, Colombia

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



This study examines the linguistic landscape of a language contact situation in the Caribbean Archipelago of San Andrés, Colombia, in which an English-based Creole, known as Islander Creole, coexists with Colombian Spanish. The geographic and linguistic distribution of the local languages (i.e., Standard English and Islander Creole) and Spanish in public signage scattered throughout the main roads and streets of the islands of the Archipelago (i.e., San Andrés, Old Providence and Santa Catalina) were obtained in order to shed light on the language use in signage authored by all the social actors of the Archipelago within zones of cultural, commercial, and political importance. Results show an association of different signage authors in commercial, touristic, and local domains with a language preference, namely Spanish. This suggests a conscious effort to make Spanish visible in the public sphere and a lack of maintenance of the linguistic heritage of the local population, the self-denominated Raizales. This research offers a complementary approach to language contact studies and provides an account of the use of language in public signs in scenarios where Spanish is co-official with a Creole language in the Caribbean.


World Languages and Cultures



Publication Title

When Creole and Spanish Collige: Language and Cultural Contact in the Caribbean



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