While the main body of linguistic landscape (LL) research still focuses on urban areas, more recent works have broadened the scope and conceptualisation of LL to include rural spaces. However, these works almost exclusively examine the Global North or the Global South. Suspended somewhere between the Global North and the Global South, the so-called Global East, to which Southeast Europe belongs, is for the most part excluded not just from notions of globality, but also from LL studies. The aim of this paper is to redirect the focus of LL research to a rural area in the Global East, namely, the village Ečka in the Serbian Banat, a region with a specific and lengthy history of multilingualism. We hold that the typologies used for the study of urban LL cannot yield relevant results if applied to rural LL. Our study is based on data collected in 2020 and 2021 during six field trips to Ečka which resulted in more than 300 photographs containing inscriptions in different languages and scripts. Furthermore, we conducted participant observation by recording interviews and collecting walking narratives from locals in Serbian or Romanian. Our study confirmed that there is a gap between the official multiculturalism and multilingualism policy as declared and implemented by top-down agents and the gradual transition to monolingualism and monoscriptalism at the bottom-up level. Therefore, instead of the classical top-down and bottom-up distinction, we propose seeing the village space from a two-fold perspective: the synchronic LL, which mirrors the current use of languages, language prestige and language policies, and the memorial LL, which is a chronicle of the multilingualism of past generations and welcomes a diachronic perspective of LL.

Publication timeframe:
1 time per year
Journal Subjects:
Social Sciences, Sociology, other