Road sign romanization in Oman: the linguistic landscape close-up

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Publication details

jamoussi, R & Roche, T in press 2017, 'Road sign romanization in Oman: the linguistic landscape close-up', Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 40-70.

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Throughout the Arab Gulf States, bilingual road signs are the norm, employing both Arabic and a romanized counterpart for the large expatriate population. The existing romanization is inconsistent, with potentially misleading variant spellings of place names signposting the region. This study provides a linguistic analysis of signs on the arterial road running from Muscat, Oman, toward Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in an effort to identify linguistic factors leading to discrepant renderings. The authors identify the wavering between transcription and transliteration and the hesitancy between the local and the standard language varieties as the main sources of discrepancies. These findings constitute the groundwork for initiatives intent on addressing the situation. Guidelines are provided for policy makers indicating the various aspects remedial work on signage in Oman should take into account.

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