Linguistic landscape

Written language in public spaces

What is a linguistic landscape?

All public spaces that we move through and interact with on a daily basis are filled with linguistic signs; the street sign of the street you live on, the notice about your area’s parking restrictions, a poster on the local busstop promoting the new coffee shop down the street, the unlicensed graffiti on your garage door protesting the government. All of these are examples of visual representations of language in the public sphere, and together they form the local linguistic landscape. The goal of linguistic landscape research is to document and analyse these representations, and to achieve further insights into the interplay of different languages, official language policies and concrete usage of the languages in the public sphere. In the case of AlpiLinK, we are specifically interested in the linguistic landscapes of the northern regions of Italy, so this section aims to document as many of public written texts as possible.

You can help by uploading your own images; all you have to do is upload the photo in the form below, provide the location the photo was taken in (the more precise the better; if you have geographic coordinates at hand, send them to us!), and if you want leave us a comment about the photo (which languages are present; who put the sign there; etc.), and then click ‘Send’. You can upload as many photos as you want. Any photo containing  written language (any language; both monolingual and multilingual signs are welcome) from a public location in the northern regions of Italy is welcome and helps us better understand the dynamics of written language use and the representation of those languages in public spaces. Need some inspiration? Scroll down to see some examples.

Upload a photo

Upload file *
Fill out this field
Where was the photo taken? *
Fill out this field
Tell us something about your photo (optional)
Fill out this field

The uploaded photos will be evaluated for suitability (only written language in the public domain; e.g. no photos of people or taken in a private setting) and then added to the Lingscape project’s (Purschke & Gilles 2016 ff.) database. All photos will be publicly available on both on AlpiLinK and on Lingscape via the map found below. However, you can request the deletion of your photos at any time, applying the procedure provided by Lingscape. By clicking “Send” you agree to the terms and conditions of the Lingscape project.



Public texts come in many shapes and sizes; for example, street signs, commercial posters, graffiti, public notices, shop names, stickers, commemorative plaques, etc. They may be monolingual or multilingual, authorized or non-authorized, convey regulations and restrictions or be used as an act of defiance.

Multilingual signs (see Figure 1) could include translations, code-switching within a message, adding new information, and they can provide insights into the local hierarchy of languages. The way that languages on a sign are expressed can indicate explicit (i.e. graphically marked) and implicit dominance; dominant languages occupy usually more centred and larger positions and sizes, or they are more salient in other ways, e.g. color or font. Some signs are dialogic, meaning that they comment on, reply to, or correct other signs (Purschke & Gilles 2016 ff.). For example, the unauthorized correction of the spelling on the street sign in Figure 2 indicates disapproval of the language use of the authorities .


  • Purschke, Christoph & Gilles, Peter (2016 ff.): Lingscape – Citizen science meets linguistic landscaping. Esch-sur-Alzette: University of Luxembourg.

Figure 1: Trilingual (Ladin/Italian/German) street sign in Val Gardena(Province of Bozen-Bolzano, Trentino-South Tyrol).

Figure 2: ‘Vandalized’ street sign in Venice; the removal of double consonants as a representation of Venetan dialect.