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Kiezdeutsch as an urban dialect: local linguistic integration vs. societal marginalisation

Oliver Bunk, Inès Lamari, Heike Wiese
(Universität Potsdam)
In our talk, we discuss a contact dialect, Kiezdeutsch "(neighbour-)hood German", as part of Berlin's urban linguistic landscape. This urban contact dialect emerged in mixed speech communities of young, locally-born Berliners of different multilingual and monolingual German backgrounds. At micro and meso levels of speakers and local communities, Kiezdeutsch is used to indicate peer-group identity, signalling a selective choice from larger linguistic repertoires that also include more standard-close and formal versions of German. The local setting for Kiezdeutsch is characterised by a high linguistic diversity with rich language contact opportunities and an integration of linguistic practices including code switching and mixing and horizontal multilingualism. This setting supports a linguistic dynamic that takes up and further develops ongoing tendencies of language variation and change in German, making Kiezdeutsch something like a pioneer dialect and an integral part of the linguistic landscape of German. In sharp contrast to this, at the macro level of the larger society, Kiezdeutsch is perceived as an inferior and deficient form of communication, an indication of linguistic incompetence, a threat to the German language and, ultimately, to social cohesion. Its speakers are constructed as social and ethnic 'Others', including a perceptual erasure of monolingual majority speakers as part of its speech community. We discuss the underlying 'us/them' dichotomies that become apparent from the public discourse on Kiezdeutsch, and analyse a key narrative on German and its dialects that supports such dichotomies and indicates a transposition of social (including 'ethnic') demarcations onto the linguistic plane.

Virtual variation as part of virtual recognition – On the economy of naming practices in WiFi network names

Beatrix Busse, Ingo H. Warnke

(Universität Heidelberg, Universität Bremen)

WiFi Network Names (WFNN) play a crucial role in the sociolinguistic territorialization of the virtual public sphere of cities. Beyond the function of rendering users anonymous through names like ‘TP-LINK_2.4GHz_FD75DF’, there are various intended names like ‘MangoOnBeach’, ‘White Wedding’, or ‘home-sweet-home’. It is obvious that names of this type have different functions in manifold strategies of discursive place-making (cf. Busse & Warnke 2014). In our case study we have analyzed a set of data of 1,595 WFNN in Berlin in the mode of grid-based random-sample taking. In our paper we will concentrate in particular on English-based WFNN that make up 10 percent of the data set. English WFNN are interesting for us as we can observe how they, as indexical signs, internationalize Berlin. Phenomena of translanguaging(Garcia 2009) are of heightened interest as well.

We will show that it is possible to yield important insights into practices of territorialization on the basis of a systematic equipartition of WFNN place points. Here different dimensions of linguistic variation come into view: we concentrate on place-making types by analyzing morphological and syntactic structures of WFNN, and we focus on those types with explicit and implicit reference to Berlin as a metropolitan area. Our theoretical approach is one that pursues ideas of recognition and interprets WFNN as tags of virtual naming in the context of “self-constitution” and a “regime of truth“ (Butler 2005: 22).

Busse, Beatrix & Ingo H. Warnke. 2014. Ortsherstellung als sprachliche Praxis. In I. H. Warnke & B. Busse (eds.), Place–Making in urbanen Diskursen, 1–7. Berlin, München, Boston: de Gruyter.

Butler, Judith. 2005. Giving an Account of Oneself. New York: Fordham UP.

Garcia, Ofelia. 2009. Bilingual Education the 21st century: A Global Perspective. Oxford: Wiley.

'Textscapes' in the city: On the functional organization of media, perception and locatedness

Christine Domke

(TU Chemnitz)

In Semiotic Landscapes and Urban Studies recently a lot of research has been done on analyzing a city's linguistic landscape in a broader sense, including not only different semioticresources but also the "meaning making" through the text's "locatedness" and therefore communicative construction of space/place (see Jaworski/ Thurlow 2011; Papen 2012; Busse/Warnke 2014). In spite of expanding the perspective, one aspect of the public communication has been largely ignored in most of the studies done so far: a city's 'textscape' is not only visible but also audible (see Scarvaglerie et al. 2014) and perceptible in a tactile manner (Domke 2015). This links not onlyzo the infrastructural or "empractical" (Bühler 1982; Domke 2014) discourse but also to other public discourses such as the commercial, art or private discourse. All of them are using different media practices and modes of perception for specific purposes (such as announcements, display panels, guidance systems, QR-codes, semiotic and physical barriers). However, this functional use of visible, audible and/or tactile communication does not find its way into the analytical focus so far.
The contribution aims at bridging this gap: With reference to photographs and audiotapes of public communication in Berlin and other mostly german large cities I want to discuss the interplay between a text'sfunction, different kinds of perception (visual, auditiv, tactile) and the places used for their material "locatedness". Accordingly, this paper deals with two key issues: it aims to expand the perspective of Semiotic Landscapes (see also Pennycook/Otsuji 2015) and to interpret the multimodal differentiation being observable in a city's texts as a (socio)linguistic contribution to the discussion on the "mediatized life" (Krotz 2007).

Domke (2015): Prohibition Signage in Public Places: On the Functional Organization of Different Media, Communication Forms and Text Types. In: 10plus1. Living Linguistics. Media Linguistics (Issue 1). EJournal. http://10plus1journal.com/issues/issue-1-media-linguistics
Domke (2014): Die Betextung des öffentlichen Raumes. Eine Studie zur Spezifik von Meso-Kommunikation am Beispiel von Bahnhöfen, Innenstädten und Flughäfen. Heidelberg: Winter.
Bühler, Karl (41982): Sprachtheorie. Stuttgart: Lucius & Lucius.
Busse, Beatrix/Warnke, Ingo H. (eds.) (2014): Place-Making in urbanen Diskursen. Berlin/München/
Boston: de Gruyter.
Jaworski, Adam/Thurlow, Crispin (eds.) (2010): Semiotic Landscapes. Language, Image, Space. London,New York: continuum.
Krotz, Friedrich (2007): Mediatisierung: Fallstudien zum Wandel von Kommunikation. Wiesbaden: VS.
Papen, Uta (2012): Commercial discourses, gentrification and citizen's protest: The linguistic landscape of Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin. In: Journal of Soziolinguistics 16 (1), 56-81.
Pennycook, Alastair/Otsuji, Emi (2015): Making scents of the landscape. In: Linguistic Landscape. Vol.1:3, pp. 191-212.
Scarvaglieri, Claudio/Redder, Angelika/Pappenhagen, Ruth/ Bremer, Bermhard (2013): "Capturing
diversity. Linguistic land- and soundscaping." In Duarte, Joana/Gogolin, Ingrid (eds) Linguistic
Superdiversity in Urban Areas. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 45-74.

Linguistic landscapes and the making of an imagined community: Language commodification, transnational identities, cosmopolitan codes and glocalization

Janet Fuller

(Southern Illinois University)

This paper addresses on how minority languages (English and Turkish) are used, instead of and alongside German, in the linguistic landscapes of Berlin. These language choices are commodified to create an imagined community (Anderson 1983) of consumers. This community is simultaneously both part of a global market with cosmopolitan tastes and uniquely rooted in Berlin, both transnational and local. Local identities require the use of German, but global and cosmopolitan aspects of the imagined community rely heavily on English, with some evidence of glocalization (i.e., the emergence of usages of English as a global language in ways which are specific to the local community). Further, immigrant languages are used both to appeal to immigrant–background customers and to lend authenticity to particular products and services; the focus here is on Turkish because of the long history of Turkish-background residents in Berlin. Finally, in some cases both Turkish and English are used alongside German to create an imagined community which draws on the normative value of German, the cultural capital of English, and the covert prestige of Turkish.

These linguistic landscapes are significant as a reflection and reproduction of language ideologies present in Berlin, and how they contribute to the identities constructed for self and others through language choices. While the focus of this presentation is on my recent and ongoing research on these visible displays of language, I draw on previous research in German-English bilingual classrooms as well as ongoing research on discourses of national identity to address the construction of the imagined community of Berlin.

Language acquisition of Turkish- and Russian-speaking children in Berlin: linguistic and socio-economic factors

Natalia Gagarina

(ZAS Berlin)

Although Berlin as a metropolis is characterized by the high language diversity, nobody knows for sure how many languages are spoken in this city every day (the linguists even don’t have the exact number of the existing languages in the world). Still some facts about the languages are certain – Russian and Turkish-speakers constitute the biggest diaspora both in Berlin and in Germany with the Russian-speaking population prevailing over the Turkish-speaking population. The development of these two home languages together with German as an environment language was investigated in the transversal study of the Berlin Interdisciplinary Association of Multilingualism (BIVEM study http://www.zas.gwz-berlin.de/bivem.html). The aim of my contribution, which uses the data of the BIVEM study, is to determine whether and which differences do Turkish- or Russian-speaking preschool children show in their acquisition of lexicon, syntax and narratives. Furthermore, I examine the impact of social background on language acquisition.

Lexicon and syntax were chosen as being the problematic areas for the successive language acquisition (cf. Armon-Lotem et al. 2011; Rothweiler et al. 2010). Narrative skills at the macro structural level are interesting because they are language independent and associate between languages (Gagarina 2016); they should create no acquisition challenge for children with a migration background. I suggest, that language development in all three investigated areas associate with the social status of children’s families.

Language in late capitalism: local and global in post-national processes

Monica Heller

(University of Toronto)

This talk will outline some conditions of late capitalism which might be useful for thinking about the role of language in the organization of cities like Berlin, which are at once home to (relatively) fixed populations, capitals of nation-states (or quasi-nation-states) and cosmopolitan nexuses of global circulation of people, ideas and things. The most salient feature for the purposes of this exploration is the tertiarization of the economy, with its concomitant commodification of language as skill and as emblem of authenticity, and general increased salience of linguistic form and communicative practice, in the service of building niche markets and niche products linked to bolstering the economies of deindustrialized zones, and managing extended and intensified webs of production, circulation and consumption. However, its effects need to be understood in the context of the simultaneous workings of local, regional national and supranational markets, whose articulations are still not well understood – though sites like Berlin offer excellent sites for investigating exactly that question. Certainly, their overlap presents paradoxes, notably in the mobilization of the semiotic resources of nationalism and of modern nation-states in the service of transnational exchange, and in tensions between valuing language as embodied and naturalized talent versus valuing language as disembodied technical skill. They also call into question the modernist nation-state understanding of the opposition between the city (site of decadent modernity) and the country (site of traditional, if backward, purity). These tensions emerge in debates over municipal language policies, the spatialization of diversity, and the language of education, just to give some examples. I will illustrate these tensions with examples from francophone Canada, notably Montréal (the putative capital of a francophone Québec and global nexus for the culture industry) and the small, regional capital of Rimouski (both a beacon of traditional Québécois identity and a centre for regional and international migration).

Basarlingualism: Linguistic diversity in the Dong Xuan Market in Berlin-Lichtenberg. Anthropological perspectives

Gertrud Hüwelmeier

(Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)

This paper explores the signed and spoken language diversity in a multi-ethnic marketplace in Berlin. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and due to the recent advent of refugees from various countries, tens of thousands of new migrants arrived in the city, a number of them gathering in the Dong Xuan Center on a regular basis. This place is called the “Vietnamese market” or “Little Hanoi” by some outsiders, but was from the very beginning a multi-ethnic place, where encounters take place among diverse groups, such as Germans, Indians, Pakistani, Vietnamese and Chinese. Therefore, “Asiatown” became a venue not only for economic exchange, but should be conceived as a place for encounter and conviviality.

Based on ethnographic fieldwork in the marketplace I aim to understand changes in language use and sign-making practices. As people in this marketplace come together from various parts of the world, Asia in particular, they engage in practices of translanguaging, trying to make themselves understood by others, thereby using various languages in order to create and maintain economic and social relations in the basar. The presentation investigates, how people communicate when they bring different life histories, migration narratives and trajectories to interaction in this particular place. People communicate multimodally, including the spoken word, ritual interactions as well as gesture and signing. Taking into account recent critics on methodological nationalism, this paper argues for an anthropological perspective in analyzing the linguistic and socio-economic landscape in the eastern part of Berlin.

Between accommodation and distinction
The linguistic repertoire of German-speaking Jews

Esther Jahns

(Universität Potsdam)

This paper discusses the in-group speech of Jews in contemporary Berlin, its shape and its function especially in comparison with contemporary Jewish communities in other countries and give first insights in the reasons for inter- and intraspeaker variation.

Since the 6th century B.C.E. Jewish communities have been living more or less permanently in a multilingual environment. Eventually, a triglossic pattern emerged in the various exiles with clear functions for the respective languages: Hebrew-Aramaic remained the sacred language for religion, the territorial languages were used for the communication with non-Jews and quite often on the basis of the territorial language a third language developed which served as a vernacular and in-group speech (Spolsky & Benor 2006). In linguistics the latter are often labeled 'Jewish languages' and have been investigated since the first half of the 20th century alsofrom a comparative perspective(mainly under the name of 'Jewish intralinguistics').

Although contemporary 'Jewish languages' are in general less distinct from their co-territorial languages than historical ones, Benor (2011) and Lebenswerd (2016) show in their respective studies about American and Swedish Jews that these communities do make use of a "distinctive Jewish linguistic repertoire" as Benor (2008) puts it. These repertoires consist mainly of loans from former Jewish languages (e.g. Yiddish) and Hebrew and might to a lesser extent also display distinctive grammatical features.

Even if we take the history of 'Jewish languages' and the existence of distinctive speech pattern in other contemporary Jewish communities into account, the situation in today's Germany is special concerning two aspects: the History and the linguistic closeness of German and Yiddish as the former Jewish language spoken in the territory of Germany.

In the framework of my PhD thesis and based on interviews conducted with personalities of Jewish life in Berlin I provide evidence that German Jews in Berlin also make use of a distinctive Jewish linguistic repertoire and that this repertoire is used as a means to index their Jewish identity. This explorative study also gives first insights in the reasons for the variation within the repertoire ranging from more stable social categories to the active use of items to index alignment to subgroups within the community.


Benor, Sarah Bunin (2011): Mensch, bentsh, and balagan: Variation in the American Jewish Linguistic Repertoire. In: Language & Communication 31. 141-154.

Benor, Sarah Bunin (2008): Towards a New Understanding of Jewish Language in the Twenty-First Century. In: Religion Compass 2/6. 1062-1080.

Lebenswerd, Joshua Patric (2016): Jewish Swedish. In: Kahn, Lily & Aaron D. Rubin (eds.): Handbook of Jewish Languages. Leiden: Brill. 618-629.

Spolsky Bernard & Sarah Bunin Benor (2006): Jewish Languages. In: Brown, Keith (Ed.): Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics. 2. Edition. Vol. 6. Oxford: Elsevier.

The sociolinguistic city

Barbara Johnstone

(Carnegie Mellon University)

Variationist sociolinguists have long been associated with cities: Labov with New York, Trudgill with Norwich, for example. But their research is actually about a subset of a city’s population: New Yorkers from the Lower East Side, long-time residents of Norwich, and so on. Contemporary urban sociolinguistics likewise typically takes a subset of a city’s population as its object of study: inner-city youth in London and elsewhere; heritage-language speakers in Toronto. The city is the context for the research, but the research is not about the city as such.

 What if sociolinguists’ object of study actually were cities? What could a sociolinguistic description of New York or Berlin look like? One possibility would be a blind-men-and-elephant account, resulting, say, in an edited volume with chapters about various aspects of the urban sociolinguistic world, each written by someone working on a different project with different goals and methods. What if, instead, we all started out with the same set of goals and methods, asking the same questions about as many sociolinguistic subsets of a city’s population as possible?

 First, we would be forced to confront heterogeneity. We would have to pay attention to the fact that different people have different semiotic resources, different worlds of experience, and different ways of evaluating speech. How and when do disparate resources, worlds, and ideas bump up against each other, and how do they impinge on each other? Second, we would have to consider mobility of all kinds. What could we learn by studying newcomers as well as old-timers, the downwardly mobile as well as the upwardly mobile? Third, we would need to rethink how sociolinguistic practices circulate. Traditional speech-community- or community-of-practice-based sociolinguistics locates circulation primarily in face-to-face interaction. In a city, people may come to share ideas and habits in other ways, including via material artifacts and broadcast media.

Spanish in Berlin – Institutions and intuitions

Philipp Krämer

(Freie Universität Berlin)

The paper investigates the role of Spanish in Berlin’s highly multilingual society. The accent will be on Spanish as a foreign language and the perception of its ‘market value’ in the city’s population. I will discuss the different options for Berliners to learn and study Spanish and try to quantify the offer of Spanish as a ‘product on the language market’ provided by different institutions. Subsequently, I will turn to the use of Spanish in the hospitality business as one of the key factors of Berlin’s economy. With the help of primarily quantitative survey data, I will illustrate the attitudes of employees in hotels and restaurants towards Spanish as a career asset and its place among other languages available on the ‘linguistic market’ of the tourist industry.

The Linguistic Landscape of Kreuzberg and Neukölln – a comparative analysis of two neighbourhoods: Graefe- and Reuterkiez)

Fatih Özcan

(Freie Universität Berlin)

This paper targets the question whether social structural changes and urban development measures are represented in the diversity of language communities and structure of the linguistic landscape of two adjacent neighbourhoods in Kreuzberg and Neukölln. A variety of sociolinguistic suppositions are incorporated into the theoretical framework covering the ethnolinguistic vitality in particular (See Landry/Bourhis 1997). Thereby the concept of urban space is defined as a materialised public space with multifaceted semiotic properties which has extensive effects on the communicative structures, social interactions and the cultural interpretability of its linguistic objects within (for a sociological perspective on public spaces, See Ben-Rafael (2009); for a semiotic perspective, See Reblin (2010) and a cultural perspective, See Haarmann (1990). The Linguistic Landscape analyses comprise social structural key figures and a data set collected in summer 2013. The results show slight differences of ethnolinguistic vitality in the public space of the urban neighbourhoods “Reuter-“ and “Graefekiez”. While the border road between the adjacent neighbourhoods not only divides in geographical terms – it also displays linguistic differences. The Graefekiez with its local self-governing focus and political inclusion of minority language communities reveals a larger linguistic diversity but at the same time a potentially salient competition between prestigious languages and so-called migrant languages especially for linguistic visibility in public space. The Reuterkiez as a negative example for gentrification impacts displays lesser linguistic diversity but in parts exclusively dominant minority language  communities. A highly relevant connectedness yields the effect of previous legal measures for protecting social structures of urban neighbourhoods and their cultural diversity. However, ongoing gentrification streams are associated with the growing expansion of some prestigious languages and the decline of both – distinctive ethnolinguistic and social structural diversity of urban neighbourhoods. In this sense, the study of Linguistic Landscapes in urban areas provides a comprehensive picture about the relationship between social structures, urban development and linguistic diversity in public spaces. All three elements sustainably influence the composition and progression of Linguistic Landscapes of urban neighbourhoods.

Continuity and change in patterns of language use in three generations of Turkish children and adolescents in Berlin: Empirical studies 1978-2016

Carol Pfaff

(Freie Universität Berlin)

My research in Berlin has focused on the development of multilingualism of children and adolescents with Turkish as heritage language, in particular the relationship between social variables their linguistic competence and language practices in their families, neighborhoods and schools. During the period of my studies, there have been changes related to migration – from “intermediate generation” immigrants who began their schooling in Turkey before migrating to Berlin, to second and third generation children of parents born and schooled in Berlin. Over this time, some aspects of the linguistic varieties in use appear to have changed as a result of contact among peers, changes in the input, explicit instruction and opportunities for use.

In this presentation I briefly summarize the major social and educational policy changes which have framed the sociolinguistic settings in which the speakers develop and discuss a few of the linguistic effects to emerge from five empirical studies of Turkish and German of preschool children and primary school and secondary school pupils.


Pfaff, Carol W. (2010). “Multilingual development in Germany in the crossfire of ideology and politics”. In U. Okulska, and P. Cap (eds.) Perspectives in Politics and Discourse. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. pp. 328-357.

Backus, Ad, Jens Normann Jørgensen and Carol W. Pfaff (2010) "Linguistic effects of immigration: Language choice, codeswitching and change in Western European Turkish" LINCOM Language and Linguistics Compass. Language and Linguistics Compass 4/7 (2010): 481–495, 10.1111/j.1749-818x.2010.00215.x

Pfaff, Carol W. (2014). “Multilingualism and mobility: Reflections on sociolinguistic studies of Turkish/German children and adolescents in Berlin 1978-2013”. In Horner, Kristine, Ingrid de Saint-Georges & Jean Jacques Weber (eds.) Multilingualism "and Mobility in Europe: Policies and Practices. Frankfurt/Main: Peter Lang. 17-42.

Pfaff, Carol W. (2015) "(How) will Turkish survive in Northwestern Europe? 50 years of migration, 35 years of research on sociopolitical and linguistic developments in diaspora Turkish" In Zeyrek,Deniz, Sağın Şimşek, Çiğdem, Ataş,Ufuk and Rehbein, Jochen (eds.) Ankara Papers in Turkish and Turkic Linguistics. Series Turcologica. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 453-492.

Pfaff, Carol W., Meral Dollnick & Annette Herkenrath (in press) "Classroom and community support for Turkish in Germany" In Kagan, Olga; Carreira, Maria and Chik, Claire (Eds.) A Handbook on Heritage Language Education: From Innovation to Program Building.

‘Pretty’, ‘full of vibe’ and with some ‘Antischick’: the discursive construction of Prenzlauer Berg between gentrification, commodification, and new lifestyles

Uta Papen

(Lancaster University)

Prenzlauer Berg, once hidden in the shadows of the Berlin wall, is nowadays one of the most popular and well known neighbourhoods of Berlin. Located in the central parts of the ‘New Berlin’, since reunification, the area has experienced a steep process of gentrification turning it into what estate agents might call a ‘much sought after location’ offering city living in renovated 19th century buildings and new town houses. In this paper, I examine how writings in and about the neighbourhood portray it in different and at times conflicting ways.

My analysis takes as its point of departure conceptions of urban space as discursively constructed, highlighting the central role of writing and other modes in the (ongoing) process of place-making. My data includes commercial signs, graffiti and protest banners as well as extracts from travel guides, newspaper articles and the advertising brochures of estate agents. I have collected these examples over the course of several years, beginning in autumn 2010 and most recently during a short visit to Prenzlauer Berg in summer 2015.

I analyse these texts to reveal the political and economic tensions surrounding the neighbourhood’s recent history and current development that they index. These tensions are part and parcel of wider debates, in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin and elsewhere, about urban societies and urban spaces in the 21st century, who is and who isn’t invited to be part of them. Slogans such as ‘Yuppies raus’ or ‘Berlins Montmartre’ exemplify the different ideas about the neighbourhood that we can find communicated on its streets, in the media and in tourism literature. On one side are texts that pursue commercial interests, using language (e.g English or Italian) to sell the neighbourhood to investors, tourists and new residents. On the other side are those voices, increasingly fewer though, who contest the effects gentrification has on the neighbourhood, including high rents, a growing presence of tourists and the dominance of life-style oriented businesses.

While this is a case study of one neighbourhood and the way it is discursively created, I see my work as contributing to a wider body of research that explores the role of language in the social production of (urban) spaces. Following others, I seek to understand and make understandable how language is linked to space and, more importantly, to the ‘spatialisation’ of social difference (Jaworski and Thurlow 2010), acting as visible indicator of inequalities and the conflicts these produce.

Lifestyles, milieus-languages and the economy of the Italo-Berliner

Edith Pichler

(Universität Potsdam)

After World War II Italian workers came to Germany, recruited in the frame of a bilateral agreement between both countries in 1955. After years of stagnation at the beginning of the nineties we can observe a recommencement of Italian migration to Germany. It concerned often a new European mobility encouraged by the European integration process whose actors different from the Italians in the Fifties and Sixties are not employed in the industry but in the tertiary sector. A different Italian migrant typology however characterized the city of Berlin that had attracted people to come there because of its cultural and social life. The political, economic and social character of the City has thus promoted the immigration of a different type of Italians with relative milieus, habitus and lifestyle so defined by me: the migrant workers, the rebels, the postmodernists, and the new mobiles. Berlin is recently confronted with a new European mobility and so in the last 10 years the official number of Italian population has redoubled. Berlin's Italians are prevalently active in the gastronomy and food trade: restaurants, specialty shops, wine bars, bars. The presence of Italian establishments and shops are an attraction for Berlin’s inhabitants. In fact, part of the quarters of the City had won urban quality through the activity of ethnic entrepreneur’s and in a certain measure safety and they got also Mediterranean flair. The Italian restaurants and pubs also form the public space of the quarters Berlin. In this context we can observe an interdependence between milieu provenience, cultural capital of the entrepreneurs, period/time of immigration and the naming of the restaurants/pub. This naming is also connected with the habitus of the owner (but also with the possible clients) and a result of milieu-specific social-lingual practices.

Intimate Strangers: language stories in a Berlin Mietshaus

Patrick Stevenson

(University of Southampton)

Research on the increasing complexity of urban societies has highlighted different dimensions of diversity in terms of language knowledge and linguistic practices. Home language surveys, for example, reveal the vast range of languages used in major European cities and their spatial distribution; many studies have been devoted to research on innovative styles of ‘mixed’ language use, both in face-to-face interaction and in mediated forms; and increasing attention has been paid to visual manifestations of language use. In this paper, I would like to talk about how these demographic, interactional and representational approaches can be complemented by a biographical perspective as a contribution towards a multi-dimensional understanding of what Ingrid Gogolin calls the ‘linguistic texture of migration societies’.

The talk draws on research in inner city districts of Berlin characterized by a high degree of migration and multilingualism. It is concerned with ways in which individual migrants reflect on how their experience with language has shaped their transnational life worlds. Drawing inspiration from research in sociolinguistics, social anthropology and documentary journalism, I explore this theme through the language biographies of inhabitants of a single apartment block, which in its changing ethnic and linguistic composition is a kind of metaphor for life in the contemporary city.

From Authentification to distinction – The multiple meanings of Arabic in Berlin’s gentrifying falafel economies

Miriam Stock

(Pädagogische Hochschule Schwäbisch Gmünd)

During the last three decades, Arab snack stores selling falafel, shawarma and halloumi flourished in gentrifying districts in Berlin. This, however, was far from accidental. In contrast to common assumptions, the migrant entrepreneurs from Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq and beyond never targeted an ethnic consumer group, but creatively promoted Berlin-style tastes of Falafel and other dishes towards an almost exclusive German and European young middle class. Falafel stores thus have become integral part of Berlin’s gentrification.

A key to falafel economic success lies in invoking “Arab” authenticity in the stores, which is mediated – among other aspects – via different deployments of the language of Arabic, spoken as well as written. Taking this as a starting point, this paper aims to investigate the different forms, functions and perceptions of Arabic surrounding Berlin’s falafel economies.

Berlin’s middle class consumers ascribe “authenticity” to the Arabic calligraphies on the walls, the background music, as well as the foreign sound of conversations between the “Arabic” employees in the snack places. For falafel consumers, these authentic representations become an important tool to reify their cultural hegemony towards other social groups within and beyond the city.

In order to brand their businesses as authentic, entrepreneurs strategically incorporate selective forms of Arabic in décor and atmosphere. Yet their positioning towards Arabic is much more complicated and sometimes conflicting. This paper will highlight, how different deployments of written Arabic and spoken dialects, while absences of others, create a distinction within Arab economies in Berlin which is linked to national identities and political affiliations. The cherity, yet non-understanding of Arabic by their German and European consumers, thus creates a convenient distance and anonymity for entrepreneurs and employees in this small-scale economic sector.

Learning to be German: Immigration and language in Berlin


(Alice Salomon Hochschule Berlin)

This study combines analysis of German immigration and integration policy with ethnographic
research conducted in the integration courses outlined by these policies. The resulting research
provides insight into language practice and ideology in a linguistically diverse community of
practice, two centrally located Berlin V olkshochschulen . More specifically, this research expands
on the relationship between immigration law, integration policy, and the language ideologies of
the participants in the programs outlined by these official texts. Two sets of research methods are
employed: critical discourse analysis and ethnography. The integration courses reinforce the
barrier between German speakers and speakers of other languages, despite being designed to teach
non-German speakers the language. Integration courses buttress the one-nation one-language
ideal, reinforcing the connection between German as an ethnic identity and a language, while
participants living in Berlin utilize diverse linguistic resources to navigate their multilingual