Language choice as an index of identity: linguistic landscape in Dili, Timor-Leste

Kerry Jane Taylor-Leech

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Citations (Scopus)


This article aims to show how language choice indexes social and national identity in the linguistic landscape of Dili, the capital city of Timor-Leste. The linguistic landscape is examined in the light of the country's current language situation, its colonial legacies and its ongoing development challenges. In this study, the iconicity, indexicality and visual grammar of official and non-official public signage in a capital city of the global south is discussed and the use of language in a range of signs is further analysed using the notion of language on display. The implications for language policy are also explored, taking account of the wider processes of social, political and economic change at work in this new nation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-34
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Multilingualism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • iconicity
  • identity
  • indexicality
  • language on display
  • linguistic landscape
  • Timor-Leste
  • visual grammar


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