Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

Diasporic Second Language Englishes in the African Communities of Germany's Ruhr Area

Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

Diasporic Second Language Englishes in the African Communities of Germany's Ruhr Area

Article excerpt


The Ruhr Area is a metropolitan area located in the federal state of North Rhine-Westfalia in Germany. The region, which has a long history' of migration and multilingualism, has recently attracted growing numbers of individuals who bring second language varieties of English to the area, which originate from postcolonial countries in Asia, on the African continent, or on the Indian subcontinent. African communities in particular form close-knit networks in the diaspora and engage in numerous associations, whilst at the same time maintaining ties with their original home countries. Their Englishes, both standardised and pidginised, which developed as a result of language contact in the respective home countries, are subject to a secondary language contact with German, resulting in further language change.

This paper describes the sociolinguistics of the various communities, before it documents the African communities' language preferences and discusses how the Englishes spoken in one individual community, Cameroon English and Cameroon Pidgin English, adapt in the new linguistic ecology. It argues that such diasporic Englishes pose important new territory' for the study of English and offer opportunities to extend traditional frameworks towards integrating present-day societies' realities.

Keywords: diaspora, migration, Ruhr Area, West African

1. Introduction

In recent years, global migration has accelerated in a previously unknown manner, yielding contexts of super-diversity', which involve "an increased number of new, small and scattered, multiple-origin, transnationally connected, socio-economically differentiated and legally stratified immigrants" (Vertovec, 2007, p. 1024), and which are, as a result, characterised by very intricate patterns of language use (see below).

In many cases, migrating individuals are speakers of a postcolonial variety of English (Schneider, 2007). Whilst in the past such individuals tended to migrate into other English-speaking areas, many today settle in places where English has not traditionally been part of the linguistic ecology'. One area which has recently witnessed growing in-migration of speakers of postcolonial varieties of English is Germany's Ruhr Area. The speakers originate from multilingual areas where their second language (L2) Englishes have been shaped by language contact (cf. Hundt & Schreier, 2013), resulting in indigenisation and nativisation. Migration to the Ruhr Area then results in what we may call secondary7 language contact in that it follows a previous process of language contact, that had taken place in the original home country7 of the migrating individual, and in that it may be supplementary7, adding to and extending the preceding mechanisms and outcomes.

In new ecologies of super-diversity, language uses and preferences change, and secondary language contact leads to changes in the original L2 Englishes through novel selections of linguistic features made by the multilingual speakers.

2. The Ruhr Area and Immigration

The Ruhr Area is located in the German federal state of North Rhme-Westphaha (NRW). In the past, the area had been characterised by a thriving mining and iron and steel producing industry7 (Friedrichs, 1996, p. 135), mostly located in and closely around the mam cities that had developed as a result of industrialisation and urbanisation: Bochum, Dortmund, Duisburg, Essen, and Gelsenkirchen, and in the peripheral and smaller cities of Bottrop, Hagen, Hamm, Heme, Mühlheim an der Ruhr, and Oberhausen.

2.1 Major Immigrant Communities in the Ruhr Area

The Ruhr Area has a rich history of migration, much of which started out as labour migration, initially, in the second half of the 19th century, from various areas of Germany to the southern Ruhr Area, then, at the end of the 19th century, "predominantly from the eastern parts of the Gennan Reich and from Poland" (Friedrichs, 1996, p. …

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