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Lecture | LUCL Sociolinguistics Series 2022/2023

Challenging Native Speakerism in Language Ideologies: Insights on German from the perspective of French speakers

Friday 14 April 2023
Sociolinguistics & Discourse Studies Series
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden


Research on language ideology, a fast-growing field which focuses on our positioning towards language use, is still characterized by a strong monolingual bias. This means that when linguists ask people what they think of dialects or gender-inclusive language in, say, German, they usually neither ask people who learned German as adults, nor German speakers who do not live in a German-speaking country anymore. As most studies focus on monolinguals and/or non-mobile people, which are an increasingly smaller minority in contemporary times characterized by widespread migration, what are we actually describing? 

Through qualitative interviews with people who learnt German in adulthood and are currently living in Berlin, this talk investigates whether the acquisition of German in adult migrant contexts has an impact on language ideologies in the first language (in our case French), and whether the positioning of L2 speakers of German towards specific language phenomena is different than the one of L1 speakers of German.  

Preliminary findings show that late French learners of German are very open towards gender-inclusive language, which neither reflects language ideologies of German L1 speakers nor of French L1 speakers. In this talk, I will thus discuss which factors play a role, notably by shedding light on the intersection between mobility and class for ‘elite multilinguals’ acquiring a new language through their migration experience.   

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