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Linguistic conference

UWC’s Centre for Multilingualism and Diversities Research hosts successful Linguistics Landscape Conference

The 6th annual International Linguistic Landscapes Workshop was organised by the Centre for Multilingualism and Diversities Research (CMDR) at the University of Western Cape from 9-11 April. The conference was held at UWC’s Bellville campus and at the Two Oceans Aquarium in the V&A Waterfront. The theme of the conference was “Hope and Precarity” and it covered a range of social issues occurring in convivial, war-ridden and educational spaces.

Dr Amiena Peck, one of the conveners of the conference, said that it was the first time that the conference was held in Southern Africa. She described the conference as an exciting platform for leading professors in the field, as well as young PhD students from eight different universities around the world.

Dr Peck said the CMDR aims to expand the linguistic/semiotic dialogue through looking at more fluent forms of landscapes focusing on poverty, education and health. “We are hoping to cover the whole spectrum and also give a voice to marginalised communities,” she added.

Jabulani Donga, a PhD candidate from North West University, was among candidates from different institutions invited to present their topic at the conference. Presenting on The Migrant Semiotics from Gauteng, Donga said he is fascinated by the manner in which humans share and traverse the world.

Another PhD student, David Ker of the University of Cape Town (UCT), presented his presentation entitled Designing the Child: Classroom ritual and transgression in Mozambican children’s drawings. Ker looked at how children in Mozambican schools recorded and processed reading material from the chalkboard into their notebooks. Ker said that while the information placed on the board by the teacher was the same as in the textbook, learners were observed as making mistakes when copying it into their notebooks. “The shortage of textbooks is one of the major challenges at the schools,” he explained. Ker also gave delegates an illustration of what the back of a learner’s notebook looks like, with drawings depicting aspects of  violence and sex.

Dr Peck concluded by saying that the conference was a great opportunity for networking with local and international delegates, with a host of collaborative papers showcased this year and many more planned for the forthcoming year. The conference was a resounding success and ended at the Two Oceans Aquarium on Friday, after a total of 30 presentations and a stimulating round table discussion on ‘Linguistic Citizenship’.