Planning the Linguistic Landscape: A Comparative Survey of the Use of Minority Languages in the Road Signage of Norway, Scotland and Italy
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This dissertation explores the controversial nature of current policies on the use of minority language place-names on official signage in Norway, Scotland and in Italy. Following a survey of recent developments in the study of multilingual environmental text and an analysis of the functions of place-names, these controversies are investigated in detail, with reference to legislation and reactions from the public and the media. The formats of the signs themselves are also the subject of close examination. Selected municipalities in northern Norway have, in recent years, erected signs in Sámi and Kven, but some of these signs have been a target for vandals. In Italy, the Lega Nord (Northern League), a right-wing separatist party, has long campaigned for dialect place-names to appear on signs. New regulations now allow this, but it remains a contentious topic. Meanwhile, in Scotland, the recent introduction of bilingual Gaelic and English signs in areas that previously only had English signs is considered by some to be costly tokenism. The principal function of road signs is to direct travellers, however they can also act as markers of boundaries, including linguistic boundaries. In addition, signs provide visual evidence of place-names in the landscape. The study of place-names on signs is still developing, but such investigations can shed new light on the symbolic importance of place-names for identity.