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chapter 10 Mapping Wisconsin’s Linguistic Landscapes mar k liveng ood 142 On a Sunday afternoon I walked west along the north shore of Lake Monona toward the state Capitol. It’s a route I’ve walked often the past few years, and over time I’ve developed a better understanding of the local cultural landscape. Small plaques marking places of official significance have helped me to imagine how Madison hasdevelopedinthepast150years.OneplaqueidentifiesanL-plancottage as “a vestige of immigrant housing” in the former Third Lake Ridge Germanic community that thrived on the near east side in the late nineteenth century. Across U.S. 151 (built in 1926) and just up the drumlin another plaque marks the place a Sac warrior was killed in 1832, during the Black Hawk War. On the other side of the street is the former spot of O’Cayz Corral, the club where grunge rock bands Nirvana and Soundgarden played in the late 1980s before hitting the big time. On that sunny afternoon, however, I was not searching for markers, buildings, and vacant lots that memorialize and reflect the city’s history . I was looking, and listening, for another cultural resource, one of our most basic: language. A landscape, as geographer D. W. Meinig (1979, 43) suggests, is the “complex cumulative record of the work of nature” and humans. We plow the earth into cornfields, we construct houses, and we plan and pave streets. We also name subdivisions and erect signs. According to Rodrigue Landry and Richard Bourhis (1997, 25), this “language of public road signs, advertising billboards, street names, place names, commercial shop signs, and public signs on government buildings combines to form the linguistic landscape of a given territory, region, or urban agglomeration.” Any landscape, however, is textured by stories, oral and written, old and new, and inflected by the diverse voices of its living inhabitants and visitors. A thorough definition of a linguistic landscape, therefore, should include the many forms of language that generate a place’s particular linguistic character, whether that place is a town in Price County, a Milwaukee neighborhood , or a section of Madison. I walked west through the former German enclave, brittle leaves crackling underfoot, and passed a man scraping paint from a house, a Spanish-language advertisement blaring from his radio. Along the bike path a cyclist had stopped to quench her thirst. She stood kitty-corner (or kitty-cross or kitty-wampus, depending on where you’re from) from the Essen Haus restaurant and bar and the Germania gift shop, drinking from a device called (again depending on where you’re from) a “bubbler,” “drinking fountain,” or “water fountain.” From there, the bike path skirts the north shore of Lake Monona, a place name, according to The Place-Names of Dane County, Wisconsin (Cassidy 2009), of uncertain origin, though perhaps it is “the name of a beneficent female deity” in Sauk-Fox. Along the shore a sign written in three languages—English, Spanish , and Hmong—warns fishermen and fisherwomen about contamination in various freshwater species (see fig. 10.1). The men fishing at Monona Terrace weren’t deterred, however. They pulled flopping bluegills from the water, while on a small transistor radio Wayne Larrivee , voice of the Green Bay Packers, described a “Lambeau Leap.” Monona Terrace, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, draws tourists from the state and beyond, so I was not surprised to hear a young couple evaluating the city’s skyline in voices shaped in the American South. I passed two women chatting in Russian as I walked north on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard toward the Capitol. A demonstration in support of regional mass transit circled counterclockwise around the brilliant granite building. Marching between a hybrid city bus and a Toyota Prius taxi, a pack of people chanted “recycle plastic, it’s fantastic.” Mapping Wisconsin’s Linguistic Landscapes 143 Figure 10.1. Signs, such as this one along the north shore of Lake Monona, are features of the linguistic landscape. The three languages on this sign—English, Spanish, and Hmong—suggest the contemporary linguistic diversity of Madison. October 2010. When I got home that day I sketched a map of what I had seen and heard (see fig. 10.2). Although personal and informal, this map shares some basic principles with more formal maps, such as reference maps that guide us to a good supper club or thematic maps that show us the demographic complexities of our communities. A central principle of maps is that...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780299293338
Related ISBN
9780299293345
MARC Record
OCLC
867740525
Pages
152
Launched on MUSE
2013-10-21
Language
English
Open Access
No
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