Linguistic (In)visibility and Ethnolinguistic Identity: Exploring the Linguistic Landscape of Peshawar


  • Riaz Hussain
  • Amjad Saleem University of Peshawar


Peshawar’s multilingual Linguistic Landscape poses several questions such as issues of language contact, policy, diversity, globalization, signage practices, and public perceptions. Employing qualitative and quantitative data analysis techniques, the study explores the (in)visibility of languages and ethnolinguistic identity and representation through an investigation into the linguistic landscape of Peshawar, public perceptions about signage in the city, and statutory documents. About 5000 pictorial signs were collected from all over the city, of which 900 were selected for this study. Nineteen people, comprising students, shopkeepers, sign-writers, teachers, and waiters were interviewed to get an insight into the issues of representation and identity. A broad conceptual framework, including interpellation (Althusser, 1971), dialogicality (Bakhtin, 1981), and indexicality (Scollon & Scollon, 2003) informs this study. The findings suggest that the city wears an alien identity since neither the language of Pashtuns nor of Hindkis who make 90.17 % and 5.3 % of the population (Census, 2017), respectively, are represented in the public signage of Peshawar. In the light of these findings, policy makers can frame language policies to better represent people and create a more inclusive environment.

Keywords: Linguistic Landscape, Peshawar, Policy, Representation, Signage