Language Policy

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 269–293 | Cite as

Different states, same practices: visual construction of language policy on banknotes in the territory of present-day Transcarpathia

  • István CsernicskóEmail author
  • Anikó Beregszászi
Original Paper


In this paper, we explore the role of mundane artefacts, namely bank notes, in the construction of language policy. Our case study involves a site of complex language policy and politics, namely the current day territory of Transcarpathia. During the twentieth century the region of Transcarpathia belonged to several different states: to the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, to Czechoslovakia, to the Kingdom of Hungary, to the Soviet Union and finally to Ukraine. We explore which languages were represented in the inscriptions of the various series of banknotes issued during the twentieth century, based on the assumption that banknotes participate in the official language practices constituting the linguistic landscape (LL) and as such mediate language ideologies. Our study shows that multilingual banknotes were in use in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Republic of Czechoslovakia, the Kingdom of Hungary and the Soviet Union. Only the currency of independent Ukraine has been monolingual. However, even states issuing multilingual banknotes ensured that the language of the dominant nationality/nation was in the most prominent position. While several states that have ruled over the territory of today’s Transcarpathian region during the twentieth century have displayed multilingualism on their banknotes our study shows that this is nothing more than the “societally desirable” form of the “ideal” linguistic landscape. Whether paper money represents the linguistic ideology of pluralism or homogenism, even multilingual notes contribute to the reduction of linguistic diversity by prioritizing standard languages that have official status.


Language policy Linguistic landscape Transcarpathia Banknotes Language ideologies 


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of PannoniaVeszprémHungary
  2. 2.Ferenc Rákóczi II Transcarpathian Hungarian InstituteBeregoveUkraine
  3. 3.Ferenc Rákóczi II Transcarpathian Hungarian InstituteBeregoveUkraine

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