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ICOS 2008 Conference Abstract

Use of Place Names on Road Signposts. Examples of Practice in Central Europe

P Jordan
Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria

Signposts at major roads and motorways hinting at places abroad address drivers from different countries speaking different languages. It cannot be expected that, e.g., a French driver knows how German or Hungarian speakers call Prague [Praha] or how a Hungarian speaker calls Vienna [Wien]. Road signposts are therefore first of all to apply endonyms in the sense of names in the local language of the place indicated and only possibly and additionally names in the language, where the signpost is located (exonyms). But practice varies. In some countries indeed only endonyms are shown on road signposts, in other countries also the exonym is given. In several countries practice is not uniform. The paper examines the practice in several countries of Central Europe and formulates guidelines for the use of place names on road signposts, regarding also the question of how to proceed when places indicated on the signpost or the signpost itself are located in a multilingual area.

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