This project aims to explore the understudied influence of English on new urban dialects of German (and vice versa). My fieldwork focuses specifically on “Kiezdeutsch,” a linguistic variety associated with multiethnic and multilingual populations in Berlin. Though Kiezdeutsch has been popularly stereotyped as broken German or mixed Turkish-German, linguistic study has demonstrated that Kiezdeutsch speakers come from a wide variety of linguistic and ethnic backgrounds and are united primarily by a common identification with their mulitlingual urban environment.
While much attention has been given to the potential influence (or lack of influence) of immigrant languages on Kiezdeutsch, few have noted that the vast majority of Kiezdeutsch speakers do in fact share one second language in common – English. This tripartite fieldwork study will collect contrastive English-German data from Kiezdeutsch-speaking informants in Berlin English classrooms via recorded spontaneous speech, elicitation questionairres, and computer-mediated communication. Contrastive functional analysis of the resulting data will seek to answer the following central questions: First, what English regiolectal, sociolectal, and ethnolectal features do Kiezdeutsch speakers use in their English? Secondly, what influence does English have on Kiezdeutsch itself? Finally, what phonological, morphological, syntactic, and pragmatic transfer phenomena are unique to the English of Kiezdeutsch speakers, and what (if any) social significance do they have?
For the field of language pedagogy, this project will isolate specific barriers to the acquisition of English by Kiezdeutsch speakers. Of broader interest, however, is the often-overlooked role of putative secondary and neglected linguistic varieties in phenomena of language contact and change, a growing area of interest in an increasingly multicultural and mobile EU. Understanding such new urban contact situations will contribute to the perception of how linguistic innovations spread through and across language communities and how language learning affects language change.