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Mobile and complex: a West African linguistic repertoire

Title data

Dombrowsky-Hahn, Klaudia ; Fanego Palat, Axel:
Mobile and complex: a West African linguistic repertoire.
In: Pfadenhauer, Katrin ; Rüdiger, Sofia ; Serreli, Valentina (ed.): Global and local perspectives on language contact. - Berlin : Language Science Press , 2024 . - pp. 183-214 . - (Contact and Multilingualism ; 7 )
ISBN 978-3-96110-431-4

Official URL: Volltext

Project information

Project title:
Project's official title
Project's id
Afrikaner*innen im Rhein-Main-Gebiet: Ein afrikalinguistisches Forschungsprojekt zu sprachlicher Integration
No information

Project financing: Andere
Rhein-Main Universitäten (RMU-Initiativfonds Forschung)

Abstract in another language

Migration is one of the sources of individual multilingualism. Patterns of mobility are typically more complex than a simple move from an original home to a new residence; they can involve trajectories including internal, rural–urban, south–south, south–north, and circular migration. An individual’s experience of migration is reflected in their linguistic repertoire. Migrants commonly acquire new linguistic resources, expanding their repertoire throughout their itinerary. This is especially true of mobile people from West Africa, where urban and rural multilingualism is common in many regions.
In our project entitled “African people in the Rhine-Main region – a project on linguistic integration”, we study language repertoires of speakers from different African countries. Through multimodal methods, including the collection of language portraits, accompanying narratives, and interviews, we get to know mobile people’s biographies and their histories of language acquisition. The data can also be analysed with a view to contact phenomena.
In this chapter, we take a close look at the use of German during an extended interview conversation with one speaker, Kajatu, a woman born in Guinea. We focus on three examples from different tiers of language structure: the semantics of the spatial preposition in, morphosyntactic properties of genitive constructions, and phonetic–phonological details of nasalization processes. In all three, we find evidence that the speaker draws on her entire linguistic repertoire, marked by several West African and European languages. Differences between Kajatu’s use of German and standard norms cannot simply be attributed to ‘automatic’ processes of native language interference. Instead, individual usage patterns emerge and stabilize that can sometimes be traced back to one of the various other languages in her repertoire. In this sense, the linguistic forms on the levels of phonetics, morphosyntax, and (lexical) semantics index the individual’s biography and identity.

Further data

Item Type: Article in a book
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Language and Migration; Language contact; West African Languages in the diaspora
Subject classification: African Linguistics
Institutions of the University: Faculties > Faculty of Languages and Literature
Faculties > Faculty of Languages and Literature > Chair African Studies I
Result of work at the UBT: Yes
DDC Subjects: 400 Language
400 Language > 410 Linguistics
400 Language > 490 Other languages
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2024 08:26
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2024 08:26