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Regular version of the site

Book chapter

Interaction of Cultures in the Slang of Modern German Youth

С. 351-364.
Трофимова Н. А.

The subject of the report is a currently actively studied language phenomenon called Kiezdeutsch (neighborhood German) – an imitation of the wrong language of migrants. Since the early 2000s, scientists in Germany and far beyond it have been discussing different aspects of Kiezdeutsch: the reasons for its appearance, its status and features. The media parodies Kiezdeutsch, thus facilitating its further development into a sort of secondary and then into tertiary version of language, which is no longer used by migrants or trendy media persons, but simply by German teenagers.  Androutsopoulos has described the tendency of this development in the following way: from the streets to TV screen, and from TV screen back to the streets [Androutsopoulos, 2001].

The birthplace of Kiezdeutsch are Kiezes, large city neighborhoods with a high concentration of migrants of several generations – from the first migrant workers from Turkey to their grandchildren and great-grandchildren born already in Germany, as well as migrants of the new wave, with Arab and Slavic origin (the Serbians, the Russians). Originally, the language of communication in Kiezes was a hybrid of German and Turkish, a kind of a Turkish slang. However, nowadays Kiezdeutsch represents another phenomenon. This is a language of young representatives of non-German ethnic groups who are fluent in both their parents’ language and the language of their living environment, can easily switch from one language code to another, but intentionally use extraneous “hybrid” language elements in their speech. This is a sort of protest against language “dissolution” among representatives of a dominant culture, a desire to retain their ethnic identity.

The new slang has specific features at all language system levels, these features are determined by interaction and interpenetration of cultures, nations and languages coexisting in Germany. According to researchers, the German literary language, being influenced by the language of ethnic micro- and macro-formations, is actively “drifting” to a nondeclensional and noninflectional morphological system and becoming dependent on the context [Hinrichs 2012]. Such development is also pre-determined by the influence of the English language, the new forms of virtual communication (twitter, facebook, etc.). The ethnic affiliation of Kiezdeutsch, fundamentally important at the first stage of phenomenon formation, has faded into the background today, becoming only the source and thematic background of slang making.