Examining the Communicative Value of Sign X in the Public Space in Tanzania: The Case of Swahili Context

Paschal C. Mdukula


This paper investigates the multifaceted communicative value of sign X in the Swahili context in Tanzania, encompassing both physical and virtual spaces. Cities around us are marked by many semiotic signs which present different communication cues and experiences. These signs are imagery symbols which are assigned meaning by the people who use them to communicate different concepts, ideas, beliefs and experiences. To dissect the diverse connotations associated with sign X as it operates within Tanzania’s Swahili context, this study used two distinct datasets: narrative data sourced from survey questionnaires completed by a cohort of 103 participants and collection of 47 photographic data featuring sign X that were captured through digital camera across the physical and virtual public spaces. The study employed Socio-Semiotic Theory to analyse the communicative value of sign X in the studied public space. The theory focuses on how meanings are constructed and communicated through various signs and symbols within Swahili context in Tanzania. The study findings revealed that sign X was employed to communicate multiple meanings in the Swahili context. These include warnings, prohibitions, calls for demolition, removal instructions, misinformation and fake news, cancellations, deletions, hidden value, protocols to observe, marker of death, expression of love and sexuality, and poignant reminders of personal experiences from the past.


            DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.4314/kcl.v21i2.9

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