Somali refugees and their urban and non-urban linguistic landscapes



non-urban, urban, linguistic landscape, refugees, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Somali


This study examines the linguistic landscapes found in two related spaces—one urban and one non-urban—for Somali refugees in the Upper Midwest of the United States. It employs the Ethnographic Linguistic Landscape Analysis proposed by Blommaert and Maly (2014) for understanding the relationships and practices of multilingual communities. The analysis shows that Somali identities and networks are maintained in refugee communities in similar ways in urban and non-urban spaces. Importantly, this study incorporates a discussion of a non-urban linguistic landscape that became multilingual with the arrival of refugees. Examining non-indigenous communities and their relationship with majority culture in shaping the linguistic landscape comes forward as a promising area of future research.

Author Biography

Joshua R. Brown, University Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Brown (PhD, German and Applied Linguistics, Pennsylvania State University), is associate professor of German and linguistics at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he teaches language courses, linguistics, applied linguistics, and anthropology. He is a sociolinguist and linguistic anthropologist with research interests in heritage language linguistics, historical sociolinguistics, contact linguistics, and culturally relevant pedagogy. He has published several articles and books on heritage language communities in the United States, as well as on socioreligious minorities including the Amish and Hutterites. His professional website is: