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Controlling Roma refugees with ‘Google-Hungarian’: Indexing deviance, contempt, and belonging in Toronto's linguistic landscape

  • Philipp Sebastian Angermeyer (a1)
Abstract

This article investigates signage in the linguistic landscape of Toronto that is addressed to Hungarian-speaking Roma asylum applicants, focusing on multilingual public-order signs that convey warnings or prohibitions. Such signs are produced by institutional agents who often use machine translation (Google Translate), yielding ungrammatical texts in ostensible Hungarian. Drawing on ethnographic interviews, the article explores the indexicalities that such multilingual signs have for different groups of participants, including Roma addressees and English-speaking ‘overreaders’. While institutions may view the production of multilingual signs as indexical of open-mindedness towards migrants, Roma interviewees may see public-order signs as indexing racial stereotypes by presupposing deviant behavior, and may view ungrammaticality as indexing an unwillingness to engage in face-to-face interaction. (Multilingualism, Canada, Gypsies (Roma), linguistic landscapes, Hungarian, machine translation, indexicality)

Copyright
Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Philipp Sebastian Angermeyer, York University, Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics, 4700 Keele Street, Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3, Canada pangerme@yorku.ca
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Language in Society
  • ISSN: 0047-4045
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