Integration of linguistic resources in highly diverse urban settings: Stretching the limits of variability

PI(s): Prof. Dr. Heike Wiese & Prof. Dr. Ulrike Freywald

This project investigates the multilingual setting of an urban street market, the Maybachufer Market in the multiethnic borough of Berlin-Neukölln, where speakers routinely draw on a large range of linguistic resources. So far, research has mainly focused on the characteristic diversity and fluidity in such settings. In contrast, our project aims to identify the limits of what may appear as seemingly chaotic variability. The project is led by the hypothesis that the observable variation and versatility are not a matter of ‘anything goes’, but might rather be constrained by systematic restrictions yielding definable communicative and grammatical patterns.

In our study on language structure, language use and language attitudes we combine ethnographical and sociolinguistic methods with grammatical analysis and theoretical modelling. Our main focus is on non-canonical patterns in the NP/DP domain, classifier constructions, the use of the copula, code-switching and linguistic identity constructions (as signified, for example, by forms of address).

Our database comprises (i) audio-visual recordings of sales interactions, (ii) detailed sociolinguistic interviews and focus-group interviews with vendors at the market, (iii) short interviews with visitors at the market, (iv) ethnographic fieldnotes, (v) notes from participant observation and (vi) acceptability judgements concerning grammatical patterns. In addition to our analyses of data from the Maybachufer Market, we conducted a pilot study on comparable patterns at four street markets in the Ruhr area (Dortmund, Bochum, Gelsenkirchen).

Results from our studies point to a large inter- and intra-individual variability, which is limited, however, by systematic patterns on grammatical, pragmatic and sociolinguistic levels. Referring to the concept of a contact-induced “jargon” (Velupillai 2015), we understand the kind of language use at the market as an “urban market jargon”. This urban market jargon we consider as an integrative linguistic practice, which is characterized by (i) providing access to a spatially determined but principally open range of linguistic resources, (ii) great freedom in the use of individual ad hoc solutions, which is at the same time governed by (iii) local customs concerning language choice and language dominance, and (iv) a common core of recurring structural patterns. (Velupillai, V. ( 2015). Pidgins, Creoles and Mixed Languages. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: Benjamins)


  • Peer-Reviewed: Papers, Journals, Books, Articles of the CRC
  • Talk or Presentation: Talks, Presentations, Posters of the CRC
  • SFB-Related: not produced in connection with the CRC, but are thematically appropriate
  • Other: Papers, Journals, Books, Articles of the CRC, but not peer-reviewed
Author(s)TitleYearPublished inLinksType
Wiese, H.Contact in the City.2020R. Hickey (ed.), The Handbook of Language Contact (2nd ed., pp. 261-279). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell. DOI: 10.1002/9781119485094.ch13
Wiese, H., & Freywald, U.Regionalsprachliche Merkmale In Jugendsprachlichen Praktiken Im Multilingualen Urbanen Raum.2019J. Herrgen, J. E. Schmidt, unter Mitwirkung von H. Fischer & B. Ganswindt (Eds.), Sprache und Raum - Ein internationales Handbuch der Sprachvariation (pp. 995-1012). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.Other
Duman, I.Identity and social meanings in multilingual interactions: linguistic ethnography of an urban street market.2019Poster presented at the Social Meaning Berlin 2019, Leibniz-Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS), Berlin, Germany. 20-21 March.
Talk or Presentation
Duman, I.Diversity and linguistic landscape: Exploring a weekly urban market in a highly diverse multicultural area.2018Paper presented at the 1st International Conference ''Urban Linguistc Diversity'', Institute of Linguistics, Russian Academy of Science, Moscow, Russia. 09 - 10 April.Talk or Presentation
Duman, I., & Lin, D.Sprachenvielfalt im monolingualen Habitus: LL-Untersuchung zweier Berliner Märkte.2018Poster presented at the GAL-Kongress 2018: Sprachen - Kommunikation - Öffentlichkeit, Universität Duisburg-Essen, Essen, Germany. 11 - 14 September.
Talk or Presentation
Freywald, U.Migrated speakers, migrated languages: Urban multilingualism in Germany.2019Invited talk at the Conference ''International Migration and Migrants Throughout History'', Ege University, Izmir, Turkey. 12 December.Talk or Presentation
Freywald, U.Urbane Mehrsprachigkeit und Sprachvariation: Sprachliche Muster auf einem Straßenmarkt in Berlin-Neukölln.2019Guest lecture at the Zentrum für Deutschlandstudien, Zhejiang International Studies University, Hangzhou, China. 18 September.Talk or Presentation
Freywald, U.''Language'' and ''Community'' from the inside and the outside.2019Keynote talk at the Conference ''Rethinking Language and Community: Diversity in Global Settings'', The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK. 16 - 17 May.Talk or Presentation
Freywald, U.Verb second: Syntactic modeling and usage.2018Invited talk at the Workshop ''The view from the multilingual child: Linguistic theory, language use and language strategies in and outside school'', Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Wuppertal, Germany. 08 - 10 October.Talk or Presentation
Freywald, U.Kiezdeutsch. Grammatik und soziales Setting eines ''contemporary urban vernaculars'' in Berlin.2018Invited talk at the University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany. 09 January.Talk or Presentation
Freywald, U., Wiese, H., i. c. w. Duman, I., Schumann, K., & Yüksel, S.Communicative patterns at a linguistically highly diverse street market in Berlin.2018Guest lecture at the Research Centre for Communication and Culture, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Lisbon, Portugal. 28 November.Talk or Presentation
Schulte, B.BITTschön abi - Code-switching as medium repair in sales-talk in a multilingual urban setting.2018Paper presented at the 5. Linguistik Meetup Berlin-Potsdam, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany. 01 August.Talk or Presentation
Schulte, B., & Duman, I.Social meaning in sales interaction at a multilingual urban street market.2019Paper presented at the Meaning in Flux 2019, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA. 10 - 12 October.Talk or Presentation
Schulte, B., & Freywald, U.''Gedownloadet'' or ''Downgeloadet''? Participle Formation of Multimorphemic English Loan Verbs in German.2018Poster presented at the Architectures and Mechanisms of Language Processing (AMLaP 2018), Berlin, Germany. 06 - 08 September.
Talk or Presentation
Schulte, B., & Yüksel, S. CHAI? CHAI? !CHAI! - The role of accent and gesture in medium repair in multilingual service encounters.2019Paper presented at the Conference on Multilingualism (COM 2019), Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands. 01 - 03 September.Talk or Presentation
Schumann, K.How communicative contexts affect meaning change and pragmaticalization: The register-dependent development of the German particle so.2017Paper presented at the Meaning in flux 2017: connecting development, variation, and change, Yale, University, New Haven, CT, USA. 12 - 14 October.Talk or Presentation
Schumann, K., & Yüksel, S.''Iki tane Aubergine'' - The limits of variability in multilingual settings.2018Paper presented at the Research School ''Language Contact within Systems and Speakers'', University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany. 21 - 23 February.Talk or Presentation
Schumann, K., & Duman, I.Linguistic Landscapes & Soundscapes auf einem Berliner Wochenmarkt - Mehrsprachige Praktiken im multilingualen urbanen Raum.2018Paper presented at the Urban Language Research: Variation - Contact - Perception, University of Graz, Graz, Austria. 31 October - 03 November.Talk or Presentation
Wiese, H.A cross-linguistic mass default for object-denoting nouns? Findings from a multilingual Berlin market.2019Poster presented at the Number and plurality: cross-linguistic variation in the nominal domain (NaP 2019), Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany. 11 - 12 December.
Talk or Presentation
Wiese, H.Language Variation: insights from multilingual settings.2019Invited talk at the Linguistics colloquium series, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA. 28 January.Talk or Presentation
Wiese, H.German DPs across multilingual settings.2018Paper presented at the 1st International Workshop on “Language Comparison and Typology: German and the Mediterranean languages”, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin, Germany, 12 October.Talk or Presentation
Wiese, H.Variation and change in the NP: insights from multilingual settings.2018Paper presented at the Workshop Series ''Morphosyntactic Change Through Corpora in German and Beyond, Workshop 3: Definiteness, negation and the noun phrase'', DAAD-University of Cambridge Research Hub for German Studies, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK. 13 - 14 September.Talk or Presentation
Wiese, H.Youth in the city: the dynamics of urban diversity.2018Keynote talk presented at the MEITS Workshop ''Youth languages. The age of maturity?'', Université Paris Nanterre, Paris, France. 07 - 08 June.Talk or Presentation
Wiese, H.How can we capture linguistic variation in multilingual contexts? An inclusive perspective.2018Paper presented at the Research School ''Language Contact within Systems and Speakers'', University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany. 21 - 23 February.Talk or Presentation
Wiese, H.German in a heritage-language context.2017Invited talk at the Workshop ''Emerging grammars in language contact situations'', 1st Crete Summer School in Linguistcs, University of Crete, Rethymnon, Greece. 10 - 21 July.Talk or Presentation
Wiese, H., & Freywald, U.Linguistic variability in highly diverse urban settings: Anything goes?2018Poster presented at the Urban Language Research: Variation - Contact - Perception, University of Graz, Graz, Austria, 31 October - 03 November.
Talk or Presentation
Wiese, H., Freywald, U., & Neuhaus, K.Tackling deficit-oriented views on multilingualism: some transfer examples from Germany.2019Paper presented at the University Public Engagement with Urban Multilingualism, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK. 20 - 22 February.Talk or Presentation
Yüksel, S.Codeswitching im multilingualen hochdiversen Raum Berlin.2018Paper presented at the Urban Language Research: Variation - Contact - Perception, University of Graz, Graz, Austria. 31 October - 03 November.Talk or Presentation
Yüksel, S., & Duman, I.Codeswitching auf einem hochdiversen urbanen Wochenmarkt: Kommerz, Kommunikation und Identität.2021Linguistik Online, 110(5), 157–192. DOI: 10.13092/lo.110.8143
Wiese, H.Communicative situations as a basis for linguistic systems: Integrating linguistic multi-competence with grammatical structure.2021Urban Language & Literacies (Vol. 287, pp. 1-33). Other
Duman Çakır, I.Negotiation of resources in everyday activities of a multilingual Berlin street market: a linguistic ethnography approach.2022Multilingua: Journal of Cross-Cultural and Interlanguage Communication. DOI: 10.1515/multi-2021-0065


University of Potsdam Department Linguistics Prof. Dr. Doreen Georgi Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 24-25 House 14, Room 3.33 14476 Potsdam
(+49) 331 977-2968 doreen.georgi@uni-potsdam.de