While the printed t-shirt remains a prominent form of communication in our contemporary linguistic landscape, little research to date has examined the semiotics of this unique mode of communication. In response to the interdisciplinary ‘invitation’ from Shohamy and Ben-Rafael (2015), this paper draws on principles and methods from social semiotics (van Leeuwen, 2005) and Systemic Functional Linguistics (Halliday, 1989) to explore the meaning-making potential of English words on printed t-shirts. The paper begins by applying Halliday’s concept of mode to the printed t-shirt and then presents a linguistically motivated taxonomy of words on printed t-shirts. In addition to foregrounding the printed t-shirt as a site for future exploration, this paper aims to present a close textual discourse analysis – an examination of the ‘perceived space’ (Malinowski, 2015) – to complement, inform and engage with current trends and methods in linguistic landscape research and pedagogy.
(2016) But they didn’t win the Super Bowl! Printed t-shirts as placed resources. In S. Nichols, & C. Snowden (Eds.) Language and literacies as mobile and placed resources (pp. 10–29). London: Routledge.
(2010) Exploring dialogic engagement with readers in multimodal EFL textbooks in China. Visual Communication, 9(4), 485–506.
(2010) Welsh linguistic landscapes ‘from above’ and ‘from below’. In A. Jaworski, & C. Thurlow (Eds.) Semiotic landscapes: Language, image, space (pp. 77–101). London: Continuum.
(2004) An introduction to systemic functional linguistics (2nd ed.). New York: Continuum.
Halliday, M. A. K.
(1989) Spoken and written language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Halliday, M. A. K., & Matthiessen, C. M. I. M.
(1999) Construing experience through meaning: A language-based approach to cognition. London: Continuum.
Halliday, M. A. K., and Matthiessen, C. M. I. M.
(2004) Introduction to functional grammar (3rd ed.). London: Edward Arnold.
(1996) The white T. New York: Harpercollins.
(2009) Pittsburghese shirts: Commodification and the enregisterment of an urban dialect. American Speech, 84(2), 157–175.
Kress, G., & van Leeuwen, T.
(2002) Colour as a semiotic mode: Notes for a grammar of colour. Visual Communication, 1(3), 343–368.
Kress, G., & van Leeuwen, T.
(2006) Reading images: A grammar of visual design (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.
Lou, L., & Zhang, H.
(2006) The t-shirt: A collection of 500 designs. London: Rockport Publishers.
Martin, J. R., Matthiessen, C. M. I. M., & Painter, C.
(2010) Deploying functional grammar. Beijing: The Commercial Press.
(2007) T-shirts. Atgeln, PA: Schiffer Publishing.
Milani, T. M.
(2014) Sexed signs – queering the scenery. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 2281, 201–225.
Milani, T. M. & Kapa, K.
(2015) Ready-to-wear sexual politics: The semiotics of visibility on Wits Pride T-shirts. Stellenbosch Papers in Linguistics Plus, 461, 79–103.
Peck, A., & Stroud, C.
(2015) Skinscapes. Linguistic Landscape, 1(1/2), 133–151.
(2012) Between script and language: The ambiguous ascription of ‘English’ in the linguistic landscape. In C. Hélot, M. Barni, R. Janssens, & C. Bagna (Eds.), Linguistic landscapes, multilingualism and social change (pp. 187–200). Frankfurt: Peter Lang.
Shohamy, E., & Ben-Rafael, E.
(2015) Linguistic landscape: A new journal. Linguistic Landscape, 1(1), 1–5.
(2014) Threadless t-shirt catalogue, retrieved on 28 November, from [URL].
(2012/2013) Men’s printed t-shirts, retrieved on 19 October 2012 to 10 January 2013, from [URL].
(2014a) About us, retrieved on 1 October, from [URL].
(2014b) Men’s printed t-shirts, retrieved on 1 December, from [URL].
Van Leeuwen, T.
(2005) Introducing social semiotics. London: Routledge.
Van Leeuwen, T.
(2006) Towards a semiotics of typography. Information design journal + document design, 4(2), 39–55.
(2007) T-shirt. Oxford: New Internationalist.
(2009) The most famous statement t-shirts, retrieved on 20 August, from [URL].
Cited by 6 other publications
Alomoush, Omar I. S.
2021. Is English on mobile linguistic landscape resources no longer viewed as a linguistic threat to Arabic in Jordan?. English Today 37:1 ► pp. 50 ff.
Jaworski, Adam & Jackie Jia Lou
2021. #wordswewear: mobile texts, expressive persons, and conviviality in urban spaces. Social Semiotics 31:1 ► pp. 108 ff.
2023. Roles of Japanese scripts in Western fashion: Fusion and New Orientalism. dObra[s] – revista da Associação Brasileira de Estudos de Pesquisas em Moda 38 ► pp. 61 ff.
2023. El paisaje lingüístico de la pandemia en la ciudad china de Hangzhou como reflejo de la actualidad social. Círculo de Lingüística Aplicada a la Comunicación 94 ► pp. 119 ff.
2020. Ethnographic Language Learning Projects Through the Linguistic Landscape. In Language Teaching in the Linguistic Landscape [Educational Linguistics, 49], ► pp. 327 ff.
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 30 november 2023. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers.
Any errors therein should be reported to them.