Linguistic variation and linguistic virtuosity of young “Ghetto”-migrants in Mannheim, Germany

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In this paper, we provide an insight into the life world and social experiences of young Turkish migrants who are categorised by German society as “social problem cases”. Based on natural conversational data, we describe the communicative repertoire of one migrant adolescent and that of his friends. Our aims are (a) to isolate those linguistic features that convey the impression of “foreignness”, and stand out among other German speakers’ features, and (b) to analyse the variability in our informants’ discursive practices – i.e. code- or style-switching, as it is commonly referred to in the literature – in order to show how variation serves as a communicative resource. Our findings show that these adolescents’ remarkable linguistic proficiency and communicative competence contrast markedly to their low educational and professional status.


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