Reflective essay

Lebanon is the perfect country to start a mapping project. The streets of Beirut are unique in a way that leave a person astonished by the disparity between the usage of language in it. This is due to the fact that languages are always changing and mixing together. People therefore tend to be influenced by other languages, and start inferring them in their everyday life. Moreover, Lebanon is a westernized country, where English, French and  are the dominant languages, besides Arabic. Thus, there’s a huge diversity concerning signage whether we are in Beirut or outside of it. During my mapping project, I took pictures inside of Beirut by using a mobile application called “Fulcrum”. By using this application, the pictures will be uploaded according to location of the pictures.

Earlier in the semester, I started taking pictures in Hamra, Kornish Al mazraa, Berj Abou haidar, Malla, and then I focused more on Barbir, Nouweiry, and Barbour. While taking the pictures, I noticed that the languages used in signage are different. I wasn’t aware of this diversity between signage until I started taking pictures. The signs are basically constituted of Arabizi style of writing, English only, Arabic only, or French only. There are unlimited  options in the select of languages in street signage. Some signage were also a mix of English and French, Arabic and English, or all of them together.  There are even some misspelled French words and Grammar mistakes. For example,  in this picture, one can read “Belle Papillon Salon” that was taken in Malla.


Papillon is a French masculine noun; however, the word “Papillon” was described as being “Belle”, which is a feminine adjective. The corrected version should be “Beau Papillon”. In my personal opinion, I think that they used Belle instead of Beau, due to the fact that, it’s a beauty salon signage, and they are referring to women as being beautiful by using “belle” papillon.

Furthermore, as one can see in this map, the red points refer to the pictures that were collected by my other colleagues in Beirut and surrounding it, and the purple points refer the one I collected. Moreover, one can notice that the concentration of purple points is exceedingly high especially in Hamra/Bliss Street, and this is due to the fact that my colleagues were taking pictures next to AUB. 

Here’s a clearer version of the data that I collected on my own:


Lastly, when I started taking pictures in Barbour, I realized that there’s a huge usage of French in this particular street. I also noticed that there’s a rare usage of French in Barbir. After this recognition, i decided that my final mapping project will be constituted of the comparison of two neighborhood, and study of the language used in those areas. In addition, it was a little bit awkward taking pictures in Barbour, because it’s a crowded neighborhoods. Lastly, I’ve come to realize that people will tend to look at you in a weird way when taking pictures, as if taking pictures of stores is something wrong. Therefore, I started taking pictures on Sundays, and it went much better.


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