Linguistic landscapes – Public signage as an area of language contacts and conflicts

When we arrive in a new country, public signs, ads and billboards are often the first form of contact we have with the language and script of the place. At this seminar, we will explore linguistic landscapes in Russia, Norway and beyond. 

When we arrive in a new country, public signs, ads and billboards are often the first form of contact we have with the language and script of the place. In the absence of familiar languages, these signs may cause frustration and disappointment, while in experienced hands multilingualism can become a useful marketing device: in the city of Kirkenes, for example, Norwegian-Russian store signs and street signs have been instrumental in encouraging shopping tourism from Russia. Language choices in public space are particularly significant in multilingual countries like Russia, where more than 100 minority languages are spoken and 35 are considered official regional languages alongside Russian. In such a context, each instance of language choice and representation in public signage transmits symbolic messages regarding legitimacy, centrality and relevance of particular languages and the people they represent.

Conceived as an equitable collaboration between Russian and Norwegian colleagues, the proposed seminar has three interrelated aims. Our first aim is to develop greater understanding of Russian language policies and minority language politics among Western scholars. Our second aim is to share the wealth of expertise developed by Norwegian experts on multilingualism and language policy. Our third and most important aim is to exchange experiences and develop potential collaborations for future research, including in the High North and the Arctic, where some minority languages, most notably Sámi, are spoken on both sides of the border.

The seminar is organized by the Center for Multilingualism in Society across the Lifespan, with financial support from The Norwegian University Center in St. Petersburg

The seminar is open and free of charge. Due to limited space, all attendees must sign up through this form. Coffee and tea will be served.

The seminar program can be found below. All abstracts can be found here



Thursday, October 4

Morning session:

10:00 – 10:15  Introduction by Elizabeth Lanza (Director of MultiLing, University of Oslo)

10:15 – 10:45  Aneta Pavlenko (MultiLing) A stroll on the Nevsky circa 1846: What multilingual shop signs reveal and conceal

10:45 – 11:15 Vlada Baranova (Higher School of Economics, St. Petersburg) and Kapitolina Fedorova (European University at St. Petersburg/Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Seoul) ‘Dear guests’ or ‘unwelcomed intruders’? How minority languages are represented in St. Petersburg’s linguistic landscape

11:15 – 11:30  Coffee break

11:30 – 12:00  Alla Kirilina (Moscow International Academy) Linguistic landscape of Moscow: Trends and features

12:00 – 12:30 Konstantin Grigorichev (Irkutsk State University) "Bazaar pidgin" and "Russian Chinese": Language marking of contact and conflict in the urban space of Irkutsk

12:30 – 13:30 Lunch break

Afternoon session:

13:30 – 14:00 Pia Lane & Olga Solovova (MultiLing) Linguistic landscapes in the Northern borderlands – a nexus analysis

14:00 – 14:30  Hilde Sollid (UiT The Arctic University of Norway) Road signs as targets: Tensions and conviviality in multilingual Northern Norway

14:30 – 14:45  Coffee break

14:45 – 15:15  Anja Pesch (UiT The Arctic University of Norway) Schoolscapes as constructions of multilingualism – a case study of two kindergartens

15:15 – 15:45  Judith Purkarthofer (MultiLing) Intended multilingualism? Reading Linguistic Landscapes as representations of space in schools

15:45 – 16:15  Discussion


Friday, October 5

Morning session:

10:00 – 10:30  Robert Blackwood (University of Liverpool) Murmansk Airport on Instagram: Representations of an Arctic airport through a mediated linguistic landscape

10:30 – 11:00  Ludmila Fedorova (Institute of linguistics of Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow) The linguistic landscape of today’s Yerevan

11:00 – 11:30  Zufar Makhmutov (Institute of History of the Republic of Tatarstan) The linguistic landscapes of Tatar national Internet

11:30 – 11:45  Coffee break

11:45 – 12:15  Maimu Berezkina (The Norwegian Directorate of eHealth/MultiLing) When state communication moves online: Russian in the virtual linguistic landscape of e-Estonia

12:15 – 12:45  Sebastian Muth (Lancaster University) Where post-Soviet never ends: Russian language and identity in the linguistic landscapes of Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Transnistria

12:45 – 13:45  Lunch break

Afternoon session:

13:45 – 14:15 Elizabeth Lanza (MultiLing) Place and mobility: The linguistic landscape in contemporary globalization

14:15 – 15:00  Discussion and summing up

Published Sep. 11, 2018 5:58 PM