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The linguistic landscapes of Chisinau – Forms and functions of urban public signs in a post‐Soviet setting

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Abstract

As one of the fairly new fields of research in linguistics, the study of linguistic landscapes (LL) is concerned with language as a medium of communication in its written form. This includes virtually all displays of written language such as shop signs, billboards, placards and other formal and informal displays of written language visible to us in publicly accessible places. Apart from a purely
discursive dimension, this approach also serves as a useful tool to study language use in multilingual urban settings where the linguistic landscape often is a highly contested and politicized space. In this paper we explore the linguistic landscape of such a multilingual agglomeration, Chisinau, the capital of the Republic of Moldova. Based on a corpus of digital pictures displays of written language this paper explores the status, various functions and
quantitative distribution of the country’s two main languages, Romanian and Russian. Keeping historical as well as political aspects in mind, assumptions on language preferences and functional domains of the languages displayed will be made, allowing for an insight into patterns of language use in a post‐Soviet republic.