Author: Višeslav Raos, University of Zagreb, Croatia
In this paper, I wish to explore linguistic landscapes in EU member states and the enactment of public visibility and presence of non-majority linguistic groups. Non-majority linguistic groups gain power, visibility and presence through the introduction of bilingual or multilingual signposts on roads, streets, squares and public buildings in towns and cities where a given linguistic group represents a significant population share. In my article, I shall engage in a comparative analysis of language policies of EU member states regarding enactment of official bilingual or multilingual signs in public space. Twenty out of twenty-eight EU member states have singed the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, while seventeen member states have ratified it. Although the Council of Europe and not the EU adopted the Charter, the Charter of Fundamental Rights, an integral party of the Lisbon Treaty, stipulates that language diversity is one of the fundamental values respected by the EU. Thus, this comparative research will assess various practices employed by member states’ governments in relation to the proclaimed values of multilingualism. Consequently, the aim of this paper is to depict and compare different language policies that produce linguistic landscapes in EU member states and to determine whether there is a convergence towards a common EU policy on bilingual and multilingual signs in public space.
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