Benutzerspezifische Werkzeuge

Panel 1: Language contact and language variation in multilingual urban settings


Organizers: Prof. Dr. Peter Siemund and Monika Schulz, M.A. (LiMA, Hamburg University)

Migration – as an essential element of globalization processes – has become a social, economic and political concern all across Europe and elsewhere in the world. This development is particularly vibrant in urban areas, which consti-tute the epicenters of growing diversity and attract migration, with its great potential as well as its many risks. One important by-product of these processes is the ever-growing linguistic diversity that accumulates in urban areas. The interdisciplinary Research Cluster LiMA (Linguistic Diversity Management in Urban Areas) at the University of Hamburg investigates migration-induced multilingualism in its urban settings of cultural and social diversity.

Our work on multilingualism explicitly addresses the interaction of three or more languages either within one individual or within a speech community. The majority of studies in language contact and its impact on language variation and change have addressed scenarios which involve the interaction of only two linguistic systems. This research focus falls short of reality as contact between more than two languages has become the norm in contempo-rary urban areas with high levels of migration. Most of the migrants speak their home language, the community lan-guage and one or more ‘foreign’ languages on top of these. As a result, the type of linguistic complexity that arises in modern urban areas is different from the type of linguistic diversity found in communities marked for prolonged reciprocal bilingualism.

The “language contact and language variation” group at LiMA investigates the linguistic and educational im-plications of language contact situations that involve three or more languages (3+x-lingualism) and investigates whether the existing theoretical models of language contact, variation and change have to be revised when more than two languages interact within an individual or a speech community. The identification of linguistic and metalinguistic phenomena that emerge from multilingualism is another core topic of iNet3. It is yet unclear whether 3+x-lingualism strengthens or weakens the positive abilities that studies describe as advantages for bilinguals in contrast to monolinguals (e.g. increased metalinguistic knowledge which facilitates the acquisition of further languages). Even if positive effects can be detected, the question arises whether they are present in all linguistic subsystems or only in some of them.

Our research group at LiMA investigates different language pairs (including typologically close and distant languages, genetically related and unrelated languages) and different linguistic domains, which range from phonology (suprasegmentals) via morphosyntax (determiners and definiteness markers, tense-aspect systems; case systems) and syntax (word order) to the lexicon (lexical constructions of space and causation, discourse particles). Moreover, language acquisition, language variation and change are affected not only by typological similarity, but by a multitude of social and individual factors such as age effects, the degree of usage or proficiency in the 3+x languages, the prestige of the languages involved, to mention only a few. In taking all these different factors into account, we intend to contribute to a more dynamic view of multilingual systems.

The contributions to the ICLaVE panel present case studies in the context of the research agenda outlined above. The panel has five 30 minute slots (20 minutes of presentation, 10 minutes of discussion) and provides a platform for experts from the field of bi- and multilingualism.

Prof. Dr. Heike Wiese (University of Potsdam) will be contributing on attitudes towards multiethnolects. Bernhard Bremer (LiMA, University of Hamburg) will present on the acquisition of the future tense in L3 Russian by German-Polish bilinguals. The European perspective will be complemented by contributions on variation in voice onset time in Russian-English, Ukranian-English and Italian-English bilinguals in multilingual Toronto (Prof. Dr. Naomi Nagy, University of Toronto) and language attitudes and policies in multilingual Singapore (Prof. Dr. Francesco Cavallaro, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore).

The panel will be primed by an introductory session on general issues in investigating language contact and language variation in multilingual urban settings by Prof. Dr. Peter Siemund and Monika Schulz, M.A (University of Hamburg).