What Do Signs Say About English in Multilingual Fashion Advertising? The Case of Souq Al-Sultan in Jordan

Document Type : Research Article


1 Department of English Language and Literature, Al-Hussein Bin Talal University, Jordan

2 Department of English Language and Literature, Tafila Technical University, Jordan



This article explores visual English on the storefronts of commercial fashion businesses in Souq Al-Sultan in Amman, Jordan. A corpus of 120 signs displaying various types of commercial fashion businesses (i.e., clothing, beauty tools, accessories, bags, and footwear) was obtained. Drawing on a multilayered analysis model which includes the distributional analysis of linguistic landscape (Ben-Rafael et al., 2006), geosemiotics (Scollon & Scollon, 2003), and the degrees of multilingual writings (Reh, 2004), the study analyses and discusses the extensive use of English and the minimal display of Arabic on fashion storefronts. To provide some ethnographic context for the data, 10 interviews were also conducted. Results suggest that English largely serves as the lingua franca of Jordan’s visual fashion discourse, and the overwhelming visibility of English on fashion signs is significantly attributed to economic and global considerations. Other foreign languages, particularly Turkish, French, and Italian, have featured several signs, but to a lesser degree than Arabic, which can be explained for Turkish and European stereotyping.


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