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The city has been subjected to sustained interrogation in a number of disciplines in recent years. Here, certain key insights are highlighted as they have significant implications for the way in which language-city relationships are to be understood. The various social, economic and environmental aspects of city life are interrelated in complex ways within the city, between cities and between the city and other forms of spatially arranged polities. The spatial patterning of the city, in which contrasting worlds are juxtaposed in close physical proximity and distant social propinquity and where multiple and contested senses of place are negotiated, is understood to have generative effects. Arising from this are various urban tensions relating to community and difference, movement and settlement and order and disorder. In the context of the peculiar intensity of the social relations that define city life, these tensions are often manifest in ways which are paradoxical. The diverse social geometry of urban space is cross-cut by issues of power and its asymmetric circulation. A cue is taken from Castells in that ‘Ultimately, the meaning of cities depends on the governance of cities’ (Castells, 2002: 557). Thus, the significance of language in governance and the centrality of the craft of language policy and planning in understanding the meaning of language-city relationships are underlined.
KeywordsPublic Space Language Policy Urban Space Urban Life Global City
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