Electronic Theses and Dissertations


Ali Aljohani



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Committee Chair

Evelyn Fogle

Committee Member

Emily Thrush

Committee Member

Teresa Dalle

Committee Member

Ronald Fuentes


Linguistic landscape (LL) is the linguistic objects that mark the public space (Ben-Rafael, Shohamy, Amara, & Trumper-Hecht,2006). This dissertation examined the LL of Medina, a holy city in Saudi Arabia. The study of linguistic landscape is a site-based research, meaning any study is most likely oriented by the nature of a research site and what important observations are found in that site. Accordingly, the LL study of Medina compelled us to pay attention to the role of religion. In addition, LL study has its inextricable links to multilingualism and language policy establishing it as a marker to a given community and its language status. Therefore, this dissertation is performed to fill the gap of three unexamined concepts of LL in the context of Medina; religion, multilingualism and language policy. A total of 300 signs, accompanied with interviews and recording of soundscape were conducted in three axes; the Prophet Mosque, the Central Zone, and Modern Streets. The data were analyzed quantitatively relied on several types of categorizations; Top-down vs Bottom-up, Language Arrangement, Score-system, and Religious content. The qualitative analysis revealed three themes relevant to understanding the construction of the LL of Medina; religion, language policy, minority languages, and globalization. The investigation yielded valuable insights into the language ecology of the city and the ways in which everyday citizens and visitors to the city experienced the multilingual environment. The findings indicated that religion, to a large extent, contributes in shaping the public sphere of Medina in different applications such as to show the citys identity, and to introduce its holiness. In commercial signs, religious elements were commodified to appeal to customers, as well as to construct tokenism around a product. The study also found that in some parts of Medina multilingualism is a normal and everyday part of public life. Primarily, because of the religious importance of the Prophet Mosque that is a focal point of the city, and prime destination for religious pilgrims and visitors. The varied methods and analysis in this study led to a complex picture of the LL, and subsequently, understanding of the language policy of Medina. While Arabic is the dominant language in the city, multiple languages are also used in official and nonofficial signs, suggesting that there is permissible use of different languages, and that government was aware of the need to disseminate messages and religious education to international visitors.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest