Indexing the Local, State and Global in the Contemporary Linguistic Landscape: A comparison of Hungarian towns in Romania and Slovakia

Petteri Laihonen
Jyväskylän yliopisto
petteri.laihonen _arvaa_

On the basis of photography and fieldwork carried out by the author and István Horváth, the linguistic landscape of the central square of a Hungarian (above 80% of the population) town in Romania (Gyergószentmiklós/Gheorgheni) and Slovakia (Dunaszerdahely/ Dunajská Streda) are mapped, compared and analyzed focusing on agency, visual semiotics, language choice and language preference (see Scollon & Scollon 2003).

In general non-autonomous, historical minorities form the majority in very few European towns. Cities in former Eastern Europe are experiencing processes of globalization in the form of transition from socialist dictatorship to free market economy and European integration. Simultaneously, the failure of socialist modernization and contemporary periferialization of minority regions and towns have resulted to other processes as well: e.g. de-urbanization, ‘glocalization’, transnational mobility and the (re)-awakening of state and minority nationalisms and religiosity (e.g. Brubaker 2011).

A description of code choice in general is given first in order to establish the basic similarities and differences in the two towns and to map the range of political, historical, economic and social phenomena that the LL in the two towns covers. In the second part, qualitative analyses of single emblematic signs are carried out. In both parts, the focus will be on indexing the local, the state and global (cf. Jaworski 2013) on the names of the businesses, institutions and products on display in the central squares.


Keywords: Linguistic Landscape, Minority Cities, Globalization



Brubaker, R. 2011. Nationalizing states revisited: projects and processes of nationalization in post-Soviet states. Ethnic and racial studies 34/11: 1785–1814.

Jaworski, A. 2013. Indexing the Global. Semiotix XN-10. 2013/05/indexing-the-global/

Scollon, R. & S. Wong Scollon 2003. Discourses in Place: Language in the Material World. London: Routledge.


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