Faculty of Language, Literature and Humanities - German in Multilingual Contexts

Ongoing projects

Research Unit "Emerging Grammars in Language Contact Situations" (RUEG)

The Research Unit plans to investigate the linguistic systems and linguistic resources of bilingual speakers from families with an immigrant history, “heritage speakers”, in both of their languages across different language pairs, registers, and age groups. We will investigate speakers of Russian, Turkish, and Greek as heritage languages in Germany and the U.S., in addition to German as a heritage language in the U.S., as well as monolingual controls for majority and heritage languages. We will study noncanonical phenomena as indicators of new grammatical options inbilingual systems. All projects will contribute to three “Joint Ventures” targeting (1) the development of new dialects vs. incomplete acquisition or erosion (“Language Change Hypothesis”), (2) the relevance of internal vs. external grammatical interfaces (“Interface Hypothesis”), and (3) the distinction of contact-induced change vs. language-internal developments and variation (“Internal Dynamics Hypothesis”). As a result of our collaborative research, we expect new insights into the special dynamics of language variation, language change and linguistic repertoires in contact situations and the modelling of noncanonical structures in the grammatical system, and new impulses for the investigation of heritage speakers and of speakers’ resources.


Kiezdeutsch has established itself as a new urban dialect of German. Like other urban dialects (e.g., Berlinish), Kiezdeutsch is characterized by the great linguistic diversity that is typical of cities. Kiezdeutsch has developed in residential areas where different dialects, linguistic styles, and languages come together, and this diverse linguistic context has made Kiezdeutsch a particularly innovative dialect of German. This information portal on Kiezdeutsch is a project of the Chair of German in Multilingual Contexts (Prof. Dr. Heike Wiese) at the Humboldt University of Berlin, supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research.

Register perception in a multilingual context of German (SFB 1412, C07)

The research project investigates how formal and informal registers are perceived in the multilingual context of German spoken in Namibia. Through corpus-linguistic and experimental methods we investigate register differentiation (e.g., What new registers of German emerge in multilingual settings?), awareness (e.g., What features do language users pick up in their perception of register distinctions?), and attitudes towards different registers (e.g., What role do different types of features play for sociolinguistic evaluations and associations?).