Conference: Language, Discourse and Identity in Central Europe

6-8 July 2007


Revisiting history: representing the immigrant homeland of Romania’s Transylvanian Saxons

Dr Kristine Horner, University of Leeds

With the January 2007 accession of Romania and Bulgaria as new member-states, the composition of the European Union has been transformed dramatically since its genesis as an economically oriented coalition founded in the aftermath of World War II. Informed by theoretical approaches to globalization emphasizing the dynamics between the global and the local, this paper takes the reconfiguration of European boundaries – together with the renegotiation of senses of place – as a point of departure for exploring representations connected to the 2007 European Year of Culture. This year’s theme is marked by a strong sense of regionalism and parts of Luxembourg, Germany, France and Belgium are constructed as one territory in promotional materials. Sibiu/Hermannstadt in the Transylvanian region of Romania is drawn into this pan-European discourse via moves to flag settlement patterns of speakers of Germanic language varieties from the Moselle River Valley during the twelfth century. This foregrounding of events predating the era of the nation-state serves to create continuity between past migrations and present-day transformations in Europe, as well as the unity or ‘integration’ of the space traversing the northwestern and southeastern stretches of imagined European place.

Communication and Identity Values in EU Discourse

Giuditta Caliendo, University of Naples

Against a background of widespread scepticism and deficit in civic participation, the European Union is finding new ways to prompt interest in its activities and raise consensus around its institutional apparatus. Being the communication between Community citizens and institutions increasingly perched on the use of Information and Communication Technologies, the europa website plays a key role in this respect.

The paper deals with the way institutional events shape the nature of discursive practice. It sets out to investigate the different strategies employed by institutional discourse in order to foster, via the new media, a sense of allegiance to the Community and develop a new system of collective values that EU citizens can identify with. The study focuses on the comparison between specific europa website sections (“The EU at a glance”) in their 2005 and 2007 versions. The diachronic analysis of the website’s textual and visual formulations - in terms of their different content and pragmatic aims - reveals the presence of new identity-formation features, mainly aimed at bringing together Europe’s diverse and increasing members on the basis of their common interests and needs. In particular, the new discursive strategies tend to favour a process of ‘hybridisation’ of identity values: the EU does no longer appeal to its historical and cultural heritage to legitimate its entity. The stress is increasingly put on the practical benefits and advantages that derive from EU membership and that the EU itself offers and ‘advertises’ as a real service-provider.

Negotiating the Linguistic Divide in Theatres on the German–Polish Border

Jane Wilkinson, University of Aberystwyth

An important aspect of integrational politics in the post-2004 German–Polish borderland is the organisation of transborder cultural events, including theatre performances and festivals.In Frankfurt an der Oder/Slubice, for example, a divided community situated directly on the border, German and Polish students of the Europa Universität Viadrina stage an annual theatre festival Unithea which aims to unite German and Polish theatre-makers, performers and audiences. Further south in the border city Görlitz/Zgorzelec the publicly funded Theater Görlitz prides itself on its Polish connections and organises a weekly discussion forum focussing on border issues.

An obvious obstacle to cross-border integration in such communities is language difference. While many Polish inhabitants learn German for social and economic reasons – German is their link with the West – very few Germans opt to learn Polish, with the result that German remains the dominant language of cross-border communication in the region. This understandably leads to some resentment and a sense of linguistic inferiority on the Polish side of the border (cf. Meinhof, 2002; 2003) and exacerbates an already imbalanced power relationship. Choosing the language of theatrical performance for shared events is thus a heavily loaded task. Should organisers choose the language that is accessible to a larger audience (German), or should they choose Polish in order to negotiate its status as a valid language of cultural production? In this paper I will address the reasons for and the implications of language-choice in borderland theatres and festivals, focusing on the ideologies and policies informing language choice and reactions to the language(s) of performance. Finally, I will seek to answer the question: what role can theatrical events play in helping to bridge the linguistic divide and unite the people of this border region?

Meinhof, U.H. (ed) (2002) Living (with) Borders: Identity Discourses on
East-West Borders in Europe. Aldershot: Ashgate.
Meinhof, U.H, (ed) (2003b) Bordering European Identities: Special Issue of
Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 29(5).

Linguistic Minority as Friend, Foe, Fetish: Changing Perceptions of German in the Romanian and Hungarian Literatures of Transylvania

Thomas Cooper, Collegium Budapest

In this paper I examine the ways in which the almost complete disappearance of the German speaking communities of Transylvania since the last years of Ceausescu’s rule has altered the status of this language and its monuments in Romanian and Hungarian culture. Examining the reception in Romanian and Hungarian literature of works of literature in German from the region, I consider how in Romanian culture German has been transformed from a perceived threat to an object of nostalgic fetish, while in Hungarian literature it is has acquired iconic status as an emblem of imperiled cultural plurality. I examine how German has been recast in Romanian literature from a language of exclusion through which a minority is demarcated to a language of inclusion through which the alleged cultural plurality of the region is asserted, while in Hungarian literature the fate of German in Transylvania has become an allegory for the fate of culture subjected to the normalizing tendencies of communist and nationalist ideologies. I seek to retrieve the German language literature of this region not simply as the literature of an all but vanished linguistic minority, but as a vibrant site of intercultural convergence that foregrounds the hybridity of national cultures.

Czech-German relationship and identity in cross-border region

Kateřina Černa, Charles University Prague

The topic of my paper will be the real regional identity in Czech-German border region in comparison with cross-regional identity intended by the EU policy a Czech-German relationship.

I focus on the analyzing of authentic data: records of children’s dialogues using method of interactional sociolinguistic, of membership categorisation analysis. The pupils of the Czech and German grammar school learn together their partner language which shall help to their social inclusion in the Euroregion Nissa. They follow the purpose of the national equality. In their individual practices we can observe how it works through analysis their interethnic communication.

I put the ethnographic data of this proceeding partnership project to the authentic records. The media (film, print media), the local policy papers and the narratives of persons related to serve to this purpose. The attitudes of children and their teachers as members of two nationalities have a great value for monitoring their real relationship.

My analysis contributes to both themes - to the language and social inclusion or exclusion and to the national and regional identities.

“Ich bin keine Deutsche mehr.” First language attrition and identity: personal accounts of German migrants in the Netherlands

Petra Prescher, University of Groningen

Language can be seen as a dynamic system on different levels: as an interindividual system in itself that changes due to social changes and language contact, and as an intraindividual part of the cognitive system. The developments of a language, its emergence, change and decline over time are dynamic developmental processes. In this paper, a special case of language development will be presented: language attrition, the decline of language skills in individuals over time. Long term bilingual immigrants often report that they perceive a kind of first language attrition after years of living in a second language surrounding. This paper investigates whether the personal perception of the decline of first language skills in late bilingual migrants can be proved through linguistic tests. Data from a study of attrition in German migrants in the Netherlands will be presented showing the close relation between language and identity and language decline as a result of interacting factors over the life-span.

The study of first language attrition has become a challenging subfield of applied linguistics. However, only a limited number of studies have investigated (first) language attrition with reference to psychological and philosophical phenomena such as self and identity, whereas psychological and sociological studies on identity have paid little or no attention to the relationship between identity and the forgetting of the mother tongue. Questions concerning the socio-psychological consequences of forgetting (elements of) one’s first language - such as whether it does affect the individual’s identity - have been discussed by writers and philosophers more than by researchers. In my on-going research I am interested in the link between first language attrition and identity, concentrating in particular on adult immigrants. It deals with question such as: What does it mean on the individual level to be socialized into one language community as a child and to move into another as an adult? To what extent does living in another country and speaking another language influence one’s mother tongue and identity? How does it feel to be involved in language changing? Do individuals experience first language attrition and if so, do they really ‘suffer’ from it? Is there any objective evidence for their first language attrition? In my presentation I focus in particular on the individual’s own perception concerning first language attrition and identity. Data of the study will be discussed in connection with psychological models of acculturation and social and transcultural identity.

Kanak Sprak: A German Sociolect?

Dr Martina Möllering, Macquarie University Sydney

This paper analyses the concept of ‘Kanak Sprak’, made prominent by Feridun Zaimoglu, who is credited with giving a completely new direction to the history of migrant literature in Germany, by starting the "Kanak Movement" with his fictitious documentations Kanak Sprak: 24 Mißtöne vom Rande der Gesellschaft (1995) and Koppstoff: Kanak Sprak vom Rande der Gesellschaft (1998). In these texts, he transformed hybrid forms of Turkish-German language use into a highly stylized and forceful language form which he labelled ‘Kanak Sprak’, a controversial term that plays on the derogative use of the word ‘Kanake’ used in the German context to denigrate members of certain ethnic groups.

This paper explores the concept of ‘Kanak Sprak’ as a form of sociolect, by:

  1. establishing an inventory of the highly stylized language employed by Zaimoglu
  2. exploring its relationship to hybrid forms of German
  3. examining the reception and development of the term ‘Kanak Sprak’

- relating findings of the above analyses to the wider discussion on hybrid uses of language and identity construction in the German context of migration

German language use and integration of minorities: Ideologies, policies and practices

Prof Carol Pfaff, Free University Berlin

Since the exacerbation of controversies about unassimilated migrant minority groups in Germany, as in the rest of Western Europe in the recent years, language has come to play an increasingly important role in public and private discourses about "integration" and this has resulted in official policies which employ language use or language proficiency as a crucial index of (potential) integration of individuals. Thus citizenship decisions are now dependent on attending an "Integrationskurs", largely consisting of language classes and several schools have discussed or actually implemented German-only policies. In this paper, I will examine some of the discourses associated with these policies, focusing particularly on reactions of the non-ethnic German population, especially adolescents and young adults and, especially, their experiences and views on whether speaking good German actually facilitates closer ties to the "native" population.

The German Language and the Future of Europe: ideologies, policies and practices

Sarah Lippert, Eberhard-Karls University Tübingen

If one looks at german-speaking minorities in Europe, Luxemburg has a special position. Even if Luxemburgish is, linguistically seen, a german dialect, it is, because of the history of the country, never considered as such. The national language of Luxemburg is Luxemburgish, most people learn to read and write in German, but the administrative language is nevertheless French. So almost everyone speaks at least four languages: Luxemburgish, German, French and English. Considering this language-situation, it is interesting to see how multilingualism manifests itself on a literary level.

My work focuses on the relationship between the luxemburgish and german language inside the novels "Schacko Klak" and "De papagei um käschtebam" by Roger Manderscheid. Both books tell the story of a young boy before and during World War II. The quiet and peaceful world of the young boy gets suddenly interrupted by the invasion of the german troops in Luxemburg. At the same time the german language appears in the novel, that until now, was mainly told in Luxemburgish. In this context German ‘invading’ the book, as a contrast to the luxemburgish narrative tone, reflects the situation of oppression on a level of language. At this point, we get confronted with the historical dimension of this’language invasion’. The luxemburgish language, only since 1984 official language, becomes one of the main instruments of national and individual resistance and thus the central bearer of national identity. But at the same time, multilingualism, which has a long tradition in Luxemburg, also becomes a sign of luxemburgish identity.

The main point of interest of my work is the complex relationship between language, identity and history in the two novels of Manderscheid.

Yyouth talk and identity construction in German-speaking Switzerland

Esther Galliker and Fabienne Tissot, Zürcher Hochschule Winterthur

In today's multilingual Switzerland the value of the German standard variety is decreasing dramatically. Our interest focusses on the attitude Swiss-German teenagers have towards this phenomenon and on the parameters which define their way of speaking. Youth talk in this context is understood as a substandard variety comprising heterogeneous ways of speaking. Its enormous dynamism also influeces the standard variety. Researching regional juvenile speaking allows to obtain information on the construction of (national) identities, the position of the German standard in a multilingual context and the impact other European languages such as English have on it. This microanalysis of local processes is aiming to get an understanding of the complex relations and interactions of language, society and identity in a multilingual Europe.

First results of empirical data raised in four major dialectal areas in the German part of Switzerland (the research project is founded by the Swiss National Science foundation) show that the creative juvenile way of speaking is highly bound to the local variety yet also influenced by its multilingual surrounding. The future of the German language will be defined significantly by the linguistic practices in youth culture and the attitudes young Swiss teenagers have towards their mother tongue, the German standard and the English variety.

Vienna in Cultural Cross Roads: Bai Ganju as Counter-Cultural Protagonist Throughout A Century

Dr Valentin Petroussenko, Plovdiv University Bulgaria

Central aim of this paper is to present both linguistic and cultural analysis of social archetypes in contacting the “Other Reality” but reflecting the continuity of the process a century later. Bai Ganju is a popular protagonist of Aleko Konstntinov’s famous literary work of late XIX century which has marked considerably the perceptions of a newborn European nation contacting the Austro-Hungarian heartland as well as the self-identification of a typical Balkan personage placed within the sophisticated and modern environment. In most of the cases these reflections being comic and criticized onwards from all generations stressing the position of this national “anti-hero” in the popular culture, they have received a reconsidered reflections by the end of XX century with increased mobility and migrations between the countries of the “new democracies” approach to the Western European boundaries. This literary work has been attracting many German language translations as both Austria and Germany were a desired destination for these migrations. The language in this translation was able to catch up all peculiarities of the hardly perceivable Balkan idiomatic expressions transferring them to a new Central European context.

The analysis in this paper will be divided into two levels – socio-linguistic approach for the cultural perceptions on transferring basic national notions from one European region to another. Consecutively the paper will deal with the latest cultural perceptions in the number of films produced in the 90s with the same protagonist but putting him into the context of the new cultural concepts of unified Europe.

Diglossia and Identity Politics

Dr Damir Skenderovic, Dr Christina Späti, University of Fribourg/CH

The linguistic situation in German-speaking Switzerland is characterized by a strongly dialect-oriented diglossia. Several Swiss German dialects exist alongside a written Swiss High German which is orally used only for official purposes. This diglossic situation has undergone considerable changes in the last forty years as the use of dialect is increasing and many Swiss German speaking people tend to view High German as a foreign language. Since large sections of the German speaking linguistic community give a high importance to Swiss German dialect as a marker of their collective identity, in our paper we examine the function of Swiss German dialect as a vehicle of integration or demarcation in identity politics. We focus on the role that political parties and policy-makers attributed to Swiss German dialect in parliamentary and public debates related to integration policies towards immigrants. By examining in particular developments and shifts that have taken place in discourses on Swiss naturalisation procedures since the 1970s, we seek to demonstrate that although German is one of the official languages in Switzerland, it is Swiss German that immigrants are expected to speak if they want be perceived as well integrated into Swiss society.

Ethnicizing German teaching: Hungary versus Estonia

Anne Tamm, University of Florence

In their perception of their languages and identities, ethnic Hungarians and Estonians in Hungary and Estonia share much:

  1. Language is salient. Both perceive their language as difficult and different from the rest of the languages (except the issue of relatedness to Finnish, which is either accepted or debated).
  2. They are aware of their languages’ being subject to influence from the Slavic and especially German languages.
  3. Both environments are assimilating.
  4. The historical-cultural ties with ethnic Germans are strong.
  5. The number of ethnic German speakers is low.
  6. Both have a major ethnic-linguistic ”minority issue”. A large non-Estonian-speaking minority and the ethnic Hungarian-speaking diaspora are the salient.
  7. Both have radically changed foreign language teaching following the collapse of communism.

I concentrate on puzzles created by the latter issue, giving an explanation to the differences between the fate of German and the rest of the languages. In Estonia, German is taught in the general European frame. In Hungary, however, German teaching is increasingly institutionalized within an ethnic frame. I analyze the ethnicity puzzle following a cognitive social analysis as set out in Brubaker (2002).

The right of national minorities to be educated in minority language: the European Union contribution to the existing standards

Gulara Guliyeva, University of Birmingham

The question of minority protection has returned to the agenda of international organisations over the last two decades. Leading international organisations have adopted a number of instruments to enhance the protection of minority rights. Yet widespread discrimination against the Roma demonstrates that these guarantees do not suffice. Is there then a need for another major player, such as the EU, to contribute to minority protection?
This paper considers the specific right to education in a minority language. The paper consists of two parts. First, a comparative study of the League of Nations, United Nations and Council of Europe instruments and practice demonstrates the existing standards of protection.

Secondly, these standards are compared to the protection offered by the EU. The European Parliament Resolutions and relevant EU instruments are examined to identify what contribution the Union makes to minority protection and whether minorities in the EU enjoy their right to be educated in a mother tongue. A discussion is supported by examples from the situation of Roma population. Suggestions as to how the EU could improve on existing standards are made in the concluding part of the paper.

Language policy, planning and identity formation in Romania: the complex case of the Germans in Siebenbürgen

Dr Jeroen Darquennes and Marianne Broermann, Free University Brussels

With the recent access of Romania to the European Union the autochthonous German minority in Siebenbürgen entered a new phase in its complex history. With regard to its linguistic history it is striking to see how thoroughly the process of German settlement as well as the “philological consequences” of language contact are covered in scientific literature. The depiction of extra-linguistic processes related to, e.g., language use, language policy, language planning and language loyalty is, however, rather meagrely documented. Against the background of the EU’s expectations on the regulation of linguistic diversity in its member states this paper wants to focus on the present state of the German language in Transylvania. It will discuss the way in which the Romanian government envisages to regulate linguistic diversity and will describe how the (remaining) German population (un-)consciously deploys language policy and planning measures that help them to negotiate their own linguistic identity in a multilingual (German-Romanian-Hungarian) surrounding. The findings are based on extensive desk research as well as on the preliminary results of an empirical survey in the Siebenbürgen area. The empirical survey is part of a work package in the European Network of Excellence LINEE (i.e. Languages in a European Network of Excellence) in which also the University of Southampton is involved.

The Present Position and Future Prospects of the German Language in Croatian Tourism

Nevenka Blazevic and Maja Blazevic, University of Rijeka

The global competition on the tourist market and the internationalisation of the tourist industry intensify the need for language learning. The knowledge of foreign languages is the most important prerequisite of the quality service in the tourist industry. The structure of foreign guests in Croatia classified by emitting countries proves that the part of the German speaking guests in comparison with other language communities is the most prominent one, so that German should be the foreign language number one in Croatian Tourism.

Although German is the most important language for the communication in tourism, its learning has been neglected in Croatian schools. This research will show the present position and future prospects of the German language in Croatian Tourism. In this context it will also try to answer the question if English as the language of the global communication can satisfy all communication needs in tourism.

Acquisition and Use of German in a Dialect Speaking Environment - The Situation of Immigrant Children in Switzerland

Dr. Andrea Ender and Mag. Katharina Straßl, University of Bern:

The German speaking part of Switzerland is one of the areas where a distinct dialect coexists with the standard variety. This situation poses a challenge for immigrant children: The daily input does not correspond at all, or only in part, to the language variety that is essential for achievement in school, namely standard German. However, the use and knowledge of the local dialect is important for social inclusion. Therefore, immigrant children must cope with both varieties. As similar diglossic situations are highly common in many other German speaking areas, the results provide useful insights regarding the use of different German varieties by immigrant children. Moreover, we will investigate the factors aiding or hindering the language acquisition under the specific circumstances.

For this purpose, a corpus of written and spoken texts of immigrant children is collected and examined. Apart from the influence of the first language on the second language, the influence of the surrounding dialect will be investigated particularly. Beside the analysis of the data on the morphosyntactic level, issues concerning the switching between and the distinction of the different varieties will be addressed. Furthermore, we will consider the actual or possible measures that concern the use of the different varieties in schools and pre-school institutions.

The future of languages for special purposes in the era of progressing management

Suzana Jurin and Aneta Stojic, University of Rijeka

The authors will give some definitions of the language of special purposes used in multinational business, and they will also describe some characteristics of this language on the morphological level and the level of word-formation.

The corpora they are using for this analysis is the corpora found in management reports of German multinational companies.

Through this analysis, the authors trace the development of such a language and they observe specific models used in management reports. Results of such an analysis will give facts for further discussions about the future of languages for special purposes in the management of multinational companies.

Eastern German Discourses of Identity

Stefan Mummert, Monash University

Discourse about language use has been an initial avenue into this investigation of Eastern German identity. The significant event of November 9, 1989 still triggers narratives of personal experiences and these are, too, useful in exploring Eastern German self-awareness and reflections about both past and present. The analysis of questionnaires within the framework of critical discourse analysis is a useful tool in this investigation. The results will be compared with public discourses of Eastern German identity, such as in autobiographical writings, literature and social research. It will be demonstrated that Eastern German identity is neither the outcome - or remainder - of former GDR citizenship nor does it stand in opposition to an (all-) German identity, but rather, is embedded within its overall context. Moreover, it seems that current discourses about former GDR and Eastern German issues by individual Eastern Germans are far less ideological than the public discourse. I argue that the discursive construction of an Eastern German identity can provide us with a better understanding of issues faced by the newest Eastern European citizens.

"The eternal foe and potato rows" -- The current position of German in Poland between resentments, nationalism and globalisation

Dr Sylvia Jaworska, Aston University

The attitude towards Germany and the German language in Poland is marked by a strong ambivalence, which even received its own sociological term -- the German syndrome. While the experience of the past created the view of German as a language of oppression and the major threat to the Polish-ness, the post-1945 Germany evoked positive feelings. In fact, during the 1990s, a breakthrough in bilateral relations was recorded. In this period, the number of learners of German doubled and in many regions it reached the status of the first foreign language. However, the situation has changed dramatically in the last few years. The Polish-German relations have recently reached a new low. At the same time, the Polish accession to the EU, the mass-migration mainly to the English-speaking countries and globalisation have shifted linguistic balances. They have also evoked fears and a rise of strong nationalistic attitudes. This paper attempts to examine the status of German in Poland against the background of the current political, social and linguistic climate. It will do so by scrutinising the ways the German-ness is currently portrayed in mass-media, the views held by the public, the Polish language educational policy and the position of German in educational institutions in relation to other foreign languages.

Main:¿salsa no tiene frontera? Ideologies of Language and Belonging in German Salsa Scenes

Britta Schneider, University of Frankfurt

German public discourses concerning migration, integration and language are characterised by comparatively strong monolingual tendencies (Gogolin and Reich 2001, Schneider 2005) that contrast sharply with urban multilingual realities. Multiethnic Communities of Practice (Wenger 1998) based on Salsa dancing, as found in all major German cities, give interesting examples for the contradictions emerging due to tensions between local multilingualism, national aspirations for monolingualism and transnational elite multilingualism. This presentation gives insights into qualitative research in which members of a German Salsa community were asked about their perceptions of belonging and how these are related to national(-ist) ideologies of language in a context where language crossing (Rampton 1995), mainly with German and Spanish, is the norm. Different, often contradictory, ways of constructing language competence and belonging occur, depending not only on ethnic descent but also on class and gender. Next to gender being a crucial motivation for language acquisition, the differing constructions are also related to how monolingual ideology imposes identity (Pavlenko and Blackledge 2004) on grounds of class, rather than ethnic descent. The construction of language itself as discrete entity (see e.g.Makoni and Pennycook 2005, Woolard 1998) furthermore plays a vital role in such ascriptions, while there are signs of this concept being dismantled in language ideologies of transnationally oriented individuals.


Gogolin, Ingrid and Hans Reich. 2001. "Immigrant Languages in Federal Germany." In: Extra, Guus and Durk Gorter, eds. The Other Languages of
Europe. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. 193-214.

Makoni, Sinfree and Alastair Pennycook. 2005. "Disinventing and (Re)Constituting Languages." Critical Inquiry in Language Studies 2:137-156.

Pavlenko, Aneta and Adrian Blackledge. 2004. "Introduction: New Theoretical Approaches to the Study of Negotiation of Identities in Multilingual Contexts." In: Pavlenko, Aneta and Adrian Blackledge, eds. Negotiation of Identities in Multilingual Contexts. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters. 1-33.

Rampton, Ben. 1995. Crossing: Language and Ethnicity among Adolescents. London: Longman.

Czech, German and English: Finding their place in multinational companies in the Czech Republic

Jirí Nekvapil and Tamah Sherman, Charles University Prague

Effective communication between the inhabitants of the old and new EU member-states does not merely concern finding a common communicative code. Rather, it is complicated by the fact that in Central Europe, certain languages symbolize national identity. Our presentation will analyze the use of Czech, German and English in large Czech-German companies in the Czech Republic. Our primary aim is to examine the relationships between the following:

  • language for communication vs. language as a symbol (how and to what degree the emphasis on the former weakens the latter)
  • language for communication vs. language for social purposes (how and to what degree the emphasis on the former weakens the latter)
  • language for communication vs. language for privacy (how and to what degree Czech serves as a means of protecting national social networks)

If language symbolizes national identity, how does the weakening of its symbolic position contribute to the creation of transnational identities? If a language has been previously used to support social solidarity, what happens when its use decreases? What place do German, English and Czech have in these processes?We will also demonstrate the interrelatedness of the linguistic, communicative and socio-cultural dimensions of "problems" in specific interactions.

The role of language for European Works Councils

Dr Helen Bicknell, Fachhochschule Mainz

European Works Councils (EWCs) have now been established via an EU Directive for over ten years and are currently functioning on approximately 800 of the largest multinational enterprises (MNEs) operating in Europe. EWCs are definitely very multi-lingual institutions. Dr. Helen Bicknell’s research on ‘How German are EWCs?’ (University of Birmingham, 2006 unpublished) reveals interesting insights into the role of language in EWCs. Qualitative and quantitative research methods analysed how communication really took place. What use was made of translators, interpreters, body language or just making do? How did international communication take place between meetings? What was more effective, emails, telephone or face to face? How did the groups decide what was going to be the principle language for communication?

How communication takes place affects the way these intercultural institutions are able to function. The way management and or national works councils interpret the legal provisions which the directive foresees can be crucial for the EWC’s ability to function as a forum for workplace information and consultation. Culture and language affect not only communication but also power relationships which can reinforce inclusiveness or exclusiveness (Stirling and Tully, 2004).

Writing intercultural identities: Narrative practices in European "itinerant" texts

Dr. Piera Carroli, Australian National University

Language is inextricably linked to cultural and social identity and as such linguistic expression plays a fundamental role in the representation of identity. "Migrant" or "itinerant"[1] narratives often mingle linguistic and cultural aspects of old and new communities and writing becomes a process of negotiation between the two.

Writing in the "new" language is it self an act of affirmation as narrators position themselves as participants in the cultural context of the new country. By proposing hybrid language and narrative forms writers create a new intercultural space thus proposing a dialogue with the established cultural context.

Following a brief discussion of terms such as "migrant" "foreign", and "itinerant"; multicultural and intercultural, this paper will analyse writings by Khouma (Italian / African), Tawada (German/ Japanese) and Cirak (German /Turkish) to show:

  • how these narrators negotiate their layered identities through language and narrative and
  • how this practice enables them to construct an intercultural space, inclusive of many languages and cultures, old and new.

Dialect use and discursive identities of migrant western Germans in eastern Germany

Dr Jennifer Dailey-O'Cain (University of Alberta) and Dr Grit Liebscher (University of Waterloo)

Western German families who migrate to the eastern German region of Saxony find themselves in a sociolinguistically complex situation influenced by negative stereotypes of western and eastern Germans.These migrants must therefore make choices about the ways in which they position themselves linguistically, both through discourse and through their use of language varieties (standard German, Saxon German, or their native varieties). This paper addresses such phenomena by combining qualitative discourse analytic approaches with quantitative variationist methods in a study of sixteen families and individuals who migrated to Saxony after the fall of the Berlin Wall.

In the discourse component, we investigate types of positioning: narrative boundary-making, in which informants explicitly narrate their relationships to communities, and formulaic boundary-making, in which speakers make their relationships to those groups clear through their selection among various linguistic, non-linguistic, and interactional resources. In the variationist component, we examine the migrants' language in terms of twelve phonological variables that make up the Saxon regional dialect koine, and determine to what extent these migrants have adopted the stigmatized local variety. We discuss how the findings of the two components combine and contrast, both for individuals as well as for the group.

The position of the Hungarian language in Central Europe

Dr. László Marácz, University of Amsterdam

Due to the Treaty of Trianon (1920) and political developments in the twentieth century autochthonous Hungarians live in eight states in Central-Europe: Hungary, Slovakia (600.000), Ukraine (350.000), Romania (1.5-2 million), Serbia (400.000), Croatia (50.000), Slovenia (30.000) and Austria (50.000). Although the Hungarian state and the political representatives of the Hungarians outside Hungary have accepted the political status quo in Central Europe, Hungarians in the region consider themselves as belonging to the Hungarian nation. This means that there exists a transborder concept of the Hungarian nation in cultural sense. The most important cohesive force in this concept is the Hungarian language. The Hungarian language radically differs from the neighbouring languages strengthening this concept of a cultural Hungarian nation. In this paper it will be argued that the architecture and the ideological make-up of the EU favours the concept of a transborder Hungarian community determined by language. Hence, throughout Central Europe Hungarians are strongly interested in the application and realization of EU norms and standards. As a consequence, the Hungarian language has the potential to become the lingua franca of Southeast Central Europe. However, states with large Hungarian minorities, especially Serbia, Slovakia and Romania are not committed to pan-European discourses on multilingualism. These countries follow a restrictive policy towards the Hungarian language and as a consequence towards multiculturalism.

Language, Linguistics and the matter of Identity: The case of Anglicisms in post-1990 Germany

Dr Jürgen Spitzmüller, Universität Zürich

The talk examines the folk-linguistic discourse on language and national identity in Germany, which manifested itself in the 1990s (first and foremost) in a heated debate on Anglicisms in the media as well as in new forms of public dedication to linguistic matters, the most well known being the Verein Deutsche Sprache, which attracted 24 000 members worldwide during the first decade since its foundation in 1997.

Based on a corpus of 1380 (merely written) media documents from the period of 1990–2001, the analysis focusses the following phenomena:

  1. The socio-political context in which the discourse is situated, especially the changes entailed to the German reunification in 1989/90, which involved a revision of the concepts of nation and nationalism, and the perception of the globalisation process, which is regarded as a threat by the majority of the discourse participants;
  2. The longue durée, i.e. the genesis of the concept of nation, which is closely bound to the history of the educated bourgeoisie and to the process of standardisation as well as to linguistic purism;
  3. The groups of actors (ideology brokers) that participate in the discourse, the concepts of language they adhere to, and the ideological background, which interrelates with the language attitudes; in this context, especially the role of the linguists opposing to the purists (as well as the purists opposing to the linguists) will be highlighted.

It will be shown that the debate on Anglicisms is mainly a result of clashing collective identities, ideologies and concepts of language (on any side, including the linguists).


Jürgen Spitzmüller (2005): Metasprachdiskurse. Einstellungen zu Anglizismen
und ihre wissenschaftliche Rezeption. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter
(Linguistik “ Impulse & Tendenzen 11).

Impact of the European Union Membership on Linguistic Identity in Latvia

Dr Ina Druviete, University of Latvia

Language is the last bastion of resistance and self-control, no just a tool of communication and enterpreneurship. The protection of the linguistic identity of a particular territory is the only way how to ensure the protection of linguistic diversity in the world.

For Latvia the accession to the EU has direct impact on economy and foreign policy as well as to the language use and attitudes among Latvians and Latvia' s minorities. Two controversial tendencies are taking place now: the extensive use of English in several sociolinguistic functions and the emphasis to Latvian as the main element of ethnic and national identity.

The paper deals with some observations concerning changes in language environment, language attitudes and perception of linguistic identity during the first three years after joining of Latvia to the EU.

Changes in the status of German in Hungary

Dr Péter Maitz, Universities of Debrecen/Augsburg and Dr Klára Sándor, University of Szeged

For centuries, German has had a remarkable role on the language map of Hungary. Its status, i.e. its social prestige as well as its use, however, have changed during this time. It is valid both for standard German and the non-standard German varieties spoken in Hungary since their status was formed by current political ideologies. The aim of our paper is to give an overview of these changes as well as to shed light on the ideological background of the changes. Through an analysis of the language cultivation practices of the different historical-political periods we want to demonstrate how and why the evaluation and attitudes of the Hungarian society towards other languages, especially towards German have changed.

Evolving identity - changing discourse: an examination of the representation of Slovene national identity in the leading daily newspaper during the transition from Yugoslav republic to an independent state

Alastair Stone, University of Reading

This paper investigates representations of Slovene identity in the broadsheet daily newspaper Delo from three key years in the republic's recent history, taking data from periods when Slovenia was a constituent republic of a stable Yugoslavia, a republic undergoing a secession debate, and an independent state about to join the EU and NATO.

From the time of the Frankish and Habsburg Empires until very recently, Slovene speakers have lived under the political domination of larger groups. Some commentators (e.g. Toporišic, 1978; Gow and Carmichael, 2000) have suggested that language has been the key factor in maintaining a distinct Slovene cultural identity. An examination of public discourse allows exploration of the value that Slovenes placed upon their language during the process that led to international recognition of their own state.

The corpus includes editorial content and readers' letters in order to access a variety of authorial voices. In addition to the focus on language issues, the analysis aims to gain insight into the process of Slovene nation building by examining references to the 'us' of the Slovene group and the 'them of external groups to investigate changing views of neighbouring groups during the time scale in question.


Gow, A. J. W. and C. Carmichael 2000. Slovenia and the Slovenes: a small state and the new Europe. London: Hurst
Toporišic, J. 1978. A language of a small nationality in a multilingual state. Folia Slavica. 1 (3): 480-486

Central European time: memories of language – lost and found – in the life stories of German-speakers

Dr Jenny Carl and Prof Patrick Stevenson, University of Southampton:

Language maintenance, shift and loss are standard themes in the sociology of language but they are generally framed as homogeneous effects attributable to macro processes of social change or political intervention and adopted as metrics of ‘ethnolingusitic vitality’. As Block (2007) points out, there is also an axiomatic assumption in the academic literature that these linguistic patterns are evaluated in a uniform way, reinforced by the institutional rhetoric of diversity.

Our paper takes a different perspective. We are interested in the evolving patterns of language contact and multilingualism in central Europe, and we focus on users and uses of the German language. However, we will not be concerned here with the position or status of this language or with the vitality of putative ‘ethnolinguistic communities’, as deduced from an outside perspective. Rather, we will ask how individuals who have lived through a turbulent period of social change recount their experience of changes in their linguistic repertoires and those of their families.

Our discussion will be based on interviews and conversations with individuals in Hungary and the Czech Republic conducted between 1995 and 2005, for all of whom some form of the German language has played a role in their lives. Drawing on Gal’s notions of authenticity and culturally coded temporality (Gal 2006, Gal and Irvine 2001), we will explore some of the ways language and linguistic practices feature in the memories of these individuals – stories of language lost, stubbornly maintained, and occasionally (re)found.

Debating diversity: competing discourses emerging from the German-only policy of a multilingual Berlin school

Livia Schanze, University of Southampton:

In 1999, the Süssmuth commission’s report on migration and integration in Germany paved the way for new policies and legislation on immigration. However, between the publication of this remarkably liberal report and the final passage of the Federal Immigration Act (2005) internal and external events led to changes in the political climate in Germany, and discourses of tolerance, diversity and integration were increasingly challenged by discourses of security and conformity. A common strand running through the public debates on migration during this period was the role of language, especially the ‘national language’, and the value of multilingualism.

In this context, the media coverage following the introduction of a German-only policy of a multicultural Berlin school in early 2006 presents a vivid example of the current German debates around immigration and integration. In my paper, I shall focus on the co-existing and competing discourses emerging from the coverage of this issue in four leading German quality newspapers: Die Zeit, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Die Tageszeitung, and Berliner Zeitung. Drawing on aspects of Critical Discourse Analysis, I shall argue that discourses can be grouped into four interrelated categories: 1. discourses criticising the HHO’s policies, 2. discourses linking the policies to improved language and employment skills, 3. discourses relating the policies to improved integration, and 4. discourses associating the policies with reduced crime. I shall highlight some characteristics of each discourse category, claiming that these characteristics do not only shape the discourses but also reveal some of the hidden motivations of the actors involved.

‘Debating multilingualism: The discursive construction of transnational identities’

Ruth Wodak, Landaster University

Who and what is Europe? For many citizens within and outside its shifting boundaries, Europe today has become the kernel for processes of identification and the redefinition of identities. Constructing Europe means to develop a new kind of entity, with its own currency, legal framework, values, social security system, language policies, and new institutions (Schmitter 2000; Cowles et al. 2001; Wodak 2007).

This paper seeks to identify and analyze processes of identity construction within Europe and at its boundaries, while focusing on the manifold functions of multilingualism in EU-rope today. I claim that such debates on multilingualism and language choice are influenced by linguistic ideologies which relate in complex ways to identity construction. Particularly, as a case study, I will analyze recent debates on multilingualism during and after the ‘big bang’, the EU enlargement 2004 (Wodak & Krzyżanowski, 2007). Moreover, the role of language tests required for citizenship in many EU countries will be discussed, taking the Austrian case as primary example (de Cillia & Wodak, 2006).

In this lecture, I draw on forms of expression in several genres and contexts:

  • On media debates following the EU enlargement 2004 focusing on language policies; this is part of the research in an integrated EU 6th framework project (DYLAN) which aims at investigating the implementation of EU language policies on national levels.
  • On an extensive discourse-historical study on Austrian language policies since 1918 (De Cillia & Wodak, 2006)
  • On ‘voices of migrants’ narrating experiences with the gate-keeping functions of national languages; this was part of an EU 5th  framework project (XENOPHOB) (Krzyżanowski & Wodak, forthcoming)

Border Talk

Thomas Diez, University of Birmingham

This lecture reflects on different aspects of “border talk”: The talk about, across and constructing borders. I develop a theoretical framework that conceptualises the status of discourse in relation to borders (and vice versa). The argument underpinning this framework is that borders are constituted through discourse, but that as institutions they also shape discourse. I also argue that analyses that focus on the construction of a single border are problematic, and that in most contexts, border talk constructs a plurality of borders. I then explore what this may mean for the construction of borders in the context of EU enlargement. I argue that in the absence of a clearly defined and institutionalised EU border, border talk takes on particular significance, and often sets existing institutional (state) borders alongside demands for opening towards the inside and new forms of closure towards the outside.