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Dimensions of Sociolinguistic Landscapes in Europe

Materials and Methodological Solutions


Edited By Mikko Laitinen and Anastassia Zabrodskaja

The articles in this volume investigate everyday textual material of sociolinguistic landscapes in the early 21st century. Sociolinguistic landscapes reflect societal change, and they enable observers to map what linguistic resources are used in various contexts and to study how these resources interact and are interpreted. The articles present not only quantitative results of the presence of languages in signs but also look into how authors and designers make use of an endless pool of linguistic resources, how visible semiotic items contribute to create a sense of space, what types of mental processes are involved in the production, and how various audiences (residents, occasional passers-by, and language regulators) interpret and construct signs and sociolinguistic landscapes to form their own understanding of semiotic space.
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The presence of the Italian language in the linguistic landscapes of Moscow


1. Introduction

Moscow, which today may be considered an example of a multilingual metropolitan city, presents an interesting case for linguistic landscape studies since Russian is de jure the dominant language, but several other languages de facto coexist with it.1 Migration has for long been an important contributing factor for the city growth and was considerable already during the Soviet times. The various landscapes of Moscow, both ethnic and linguistic, are in continuous evolution.2 The various ethnic groups usually do not live as compact communities;3 they are only formally homogeneous and mainly display considerable internal social stratification (Arutjunian 2005), but they do not appear to develop separatisms and form ghettos (Vendina 2011).

Though the local language policy enforces the paramount role of Russian, the commercial and cultural life of the city is so lively that its globalized look can only be interpreted as multicultural and multilingual. This article will show that despite the considerable presence of a range of languages and cultures in the linguistic landscape, Russian is by no means threatened by other languages, not even the most powerful ones. The central aim of this contribution is to investigate the vitality and use of Italian, which can be seen neither as a language ← 263 | 264 → of migration nor a powerful minority language, since the number of Italian population registered in Moscow is quite low.4 The small Italian population in Moscow is employed in an array of fields, and they do not live...

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