Vigo International Journal of Applied Linguistics VIAL

Vivian Cook (1). Naming in the language of the street. VIAL Number 15/2018: 47-65.


This paper looks at how street signs identify English streets and buildings. Street name signs mark out streets in forms regulated by government in terms of typeface and other attributes but not language. A building name or number sign provides a location and delimitation of property for legal and administrative purposes. Their meaning is highly indexical in that it is only true for a precise given location. Naming signs need to last indefinitely and to be legible from different angles and in different lights. Many use all capital letters, with serif letters conveying traditional values and sans serif modernity. The choice of material, whether stone, wood or paper, is crucial, to the extent that some naming signs are built-in to the actual architecture of the buildings. Naming signs have a range of functions and meanings based on physical qualities and physical location not found in printed texts.

Keywords: Street signs, writing, indexicality, naming, letters

(1) Newcastle University, U.K.

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