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One phrase contains an entire tale

Shiri Mahler

Mentor — Hadas Zemer Ben-Ari
Design Management and Innovation track

The Man'ul (transferred) project offers a model for designing linguistic landscapes in urban parks. The project seeks to use public leisure spaces as a platform for creating intercultural connection through the presence of the Arabic language in the space. The model focuses on producing a narrative linguistic landscape in which the Arabic language gains presence, both for its speakers and for Hebrew speakers. Two million Arab citizens live in Israel, 21% of the population, but their language is almost completely absent from space and society. Sometimes it is used as a curiosity, as a kind of decoration, or it may be ostentatiously displayed with countless errors. Israel’s parks and beaches are spaces for spontaneous contact between Jews and Arabs. But usually, the presence of Arabs as users of space is not evident in the linguistic landscape: Arabic appears in few signs, mostly in warning signs. The language in its inviting, connecting, gameful, narrative role, language as an instrument of cultural depth receives no representation in space. This detaches the Arabs from the place. Whereas for Hebrew speakers, Arabic remains foreign. In today’s Israel, only about 8% of Jews over 20 are able to communicate in Arabic, and only about 1% can read a book in Arabic. The project seeks to connect leisure, space and activity with Arab culture by imprinting Arabic expression on facilities deliberately placed in the various spaces, such as sitting boxes, parasols and picnic blankets. Next to the Arabic inscription, the expressions will also appear in Hebrew transcription, allowing its speakers to become phonetically familiar with it, so that the foreign sound will become familiar with time.

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Shiri Mahler

Design Researcher and writer, interested in the conjunction between language and image, and the integration between content and form, thought and action. Lives and loves in Tel Aviv.

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