Small World indeed

Here I am today, listening to the extremely enlightening presentation of Nancy Hornberger,

after two really incredibly dense days. Never at a conference have I experienced this feeling of truly belonging, of being a member of one academic family. Most of my previous and extremely numerous conference experiences have meant meeting other colleagues in a cross-disciplinary spirit, Sociologists, Law specialists, Linguists…but here, in Berlin, I relate and truly belong.

Yesterday, following meeting Serafin,  we made our way to the conference site, got our beautiful bags and enormous proceedings book. Looks like CD-Roms versions of those are over, thank goodness (well except for the extra weight in our luggage).

After a marvelously clear and fascinating presentation by Peter Auer

Auer, P. (2012). Standardization and diversification: the urban sociolinguistics of German. Languages in the City. Berlin, 2012.

Here is a very poor transcription of his very fast and rich presentation. Typos and other mistakes to be corrected, with your help… :

Berlin is the perfect venue for the Conference topic. Berlin vernacular., Kidsdeusch vernacular,. Pluricentric language area, regions and territories predating the German State, since the Middle-Ages. Not one city dominating the others. We have to take into account large and medium size cities. Urban sociolinguistics didn’t date from the 60s, but their methodology did. Field includes:

phonological variables that have changed their social meaning over time

cf. Michael Silverstein 2003 Indexical order and the dialectics of sociolinguistic life. Language and Communication 23, 3-4, 193-229 (theory of the indexical order) and Penny Eckert’s theory of social style and the indexical field.

Bern, Berlin, Studtgart, Hamburg examples.

two scenarios of urban sociolinguistic change in the Germanspeaking language area:

scenario A: since approx. 1500 urban centers have functioned as catalysts for the spread of the standard language.

scenario b: urban centers are the place in which new varieties emerge

b1- new vernaculars emerge in the lower classes of the cities due to frequeent face-to-face contac between immigrants with different lingustic backgrounds

B-2: This new urban vernacular disseminates into the rural surrounding through frequent face-to-face contact.

BERN: the vocalization of the coda /l/ in the city dialect of berne:

miuch (mix) instead of milch

löffu instead of löffel

fauwe (fallen)

awwäg (immerI

vocalized is totally adopted nowadays. If you don’t you are considered snobbish.

this is clearly a change from below finally accepted by upper classes adopting Baumgartner, 1940 study.

“in times such as the ones we live in, an artifically driven affection for the dialect favors the spread of linguistic features of the lower class” H. Baumgartner, 1940, Stardtmundart/stat….

so from lower marker, it became an authenticity marker.

In H. Christen, 1988, Sprachliche Variation in der deutschespragigen Sschweiz, Dargestellt am Beispeil der L.-Vokaliesierung in der Germeinschaft Knutwil und in der Stadt Luzern, Stuttgart:: Steiner.


onset /sp/ and (st/ clusters in the Hamburg city vernacular (the SPITZER STEIN-variable)

written variety of low german lost only in the second half of the 20th century.

They started shifting around 1526.

(low s/ high ch ) Uber einen Spitzen Stein stumbeln syndrom;-)

cf. P. Auer 1998, Hamburgr Phonologie, ZGL65, 2, 179-197 (Welt Online: “Loki Schmidt…” from speaking good german, it became urban hanseatic identiby, posh and now old-fashioned.


the Berlin ik-  and gloob-variables.

IK: /ç/ is replaced by ik and ö becoming o

cf. P. Schlobinsi, Stadtsprache Berlin, Berlin 1998, p. 65

Low german dialect area. in 1500 everyone spoke low german. 1605, the shift started.

Part of the features are linked to Upper Saxonian influence, others are from the low german substrate.

This might be attributed to the fact that Berlin upper class was educated in Hanseatic area.

the family names such as Ryke, Schum and Berlin were switched to Reiche, Schaum and Berlein.

the language they spoke was a copy of the Leipzig language. Prestige of upper saxonian declined later and by 1800 it was montré du doigt.

ik variable: vernacular scenario belonged to the shift from below (scenario 2). 19century, when Berlin exploded, interference from lower german. ik became the low class index.

In 1980s, shortly before the Wende, cf. P. Schobinski.

The reason for GLOOB-Variable can be tattibuted to the conflation with group variables: in West Berlin, uneducated, rough, in East Berlin: anti-Upper saxonian


the coronalization of /ç/ in Stuttgart

large scale immigration explain this advent of the palatal fricative.

poligenesis theory.

Feature linked to young speakers with ethnic background

 “Wo bist du, mein Sonnenlischt?

Isch suche disch und vermisse disch.

Isch respktier nur disch

damit du’s weisst….”

primary index is urban working class, became a feature of regional identity, then polyethici lower class to become an urgan young street class (kanaksprak.


look into changing social meanings, not only changing forms!

analyse social meanings as indexes in an indexical field!

deal with soiolinguistic change in long durée!

What seems to be the highlight of this meeting is the superdiversity topic. Most rooms were only half full, if not half empty, but I noticed today that the Sociofuckinglinguistics got an amazingly full audience.

Back to yesterday, I attended Bernard Spolky’s talk. Unfortunately I missed the initial part and thus arrived only 70 BC during his presentation Spolsky, B. (2012). The language of Jewish worship in the City. Languages in the City. Berlin, 2012.

Note : the term Palestine was introduced by the Romans.

babylonian exile and after:

aramic develops as venacular alongside Hebrew in Judah

Hebrew Bible reading with Aramaic Targum

Triglossia in second Temple Palestine

Hebrew sacred (still spoken)

Aramaic vernacular (some prayers)

Greek official

With the diaspora, praying at synagogue was key although private prayers continued.

Multilingualism in the Diaspora:

adding co-territorial vernaculars

greek in the Mediteranean towns

aramaic in Babylonia

devekionebtof Jewish varieties (judeo-aramic, judeo greek, judeo-romance, judeo-slavic, ladino, yidish

Public worship in Hebrew rather than vernacular.

Development  of public worship

in the temple

early synagogues

local vaireties ((eg Palestian vs Babylonian)

slow acceptance of general pattern in Talmud (3d to 7th centures CE)

Key elements fixed

Variations in Nusakh (liturgical pattern)

geographical developments (french, german, polish, Italina (rome, venic, Milan), Greek (Romaniote) etc….

but all maintained hebrew

in the cities to which jews migrated they tried to set up separate synagogue communities . Forms of prayers and architecture was different although the text was the same, Hebrew.

cf Venice with various columns for each languages.

Emancipation and Haskala

Moses Mendelsohn in German. Leader of Haskala, encouraged the use of German.

Germans preferred to Yiddish (Östjüden stigmatized)

Reform movement in Germany introduced German prayers

Reform movment in US also used a lot of English but has returned to Hebrew since.

Language of the synagogue- diaspora

Prayers were commonly in hebrew with a few aramic prayers

Prayer for th eking, goverment was in local standard language

Tora reading (Hebrew with yemenites maintaining aramic targum)

Then the return to Zion

Israel and the ingathering of the exiles

Effect of revival hebrew-worshipers who more or less could understand much of the service. It became an accepted custom calling for public use of Hebrew effects sermons and and announcements.

In Israel

Many synagogue sill follow local regianal traditions (hasidic sects, yemenites, north african traditions, italian rate

however a modern Israeli tendency to move to a blend

Heritage immigrant languages in Israel

Examples of exceptions in sermons and announcement

former soviet jews in Maaleh adumim in russian

yiddish still used by hasidic sects

english and french used for sermons and announcements in some synagogues.

I then managed, not easily, to locate Ana Deumert’s session and enjoyed very much her presentation : Deumert, A. and Y. Klein (2012). Marginal Diversities and Digital Conormities: the strudture of Multilingua performances. Languages in the City. Berlin, 2012.

Individualization: creativity and play

Digital performances.

cf. A linguistics of particularity, Johnstone, 2000

sms language, netwspeak, a new medialect, Teslexe

translocal English-linked normativities are visible numerous websites

Digital arabic in Cape town

Muslems arrived in the 17th century, local mosks and madrassas

Although it’s a highly visited part of CT, it counts for less than 10% of its population

Historically, Africaas was predominant. Today, it’s English

Moslems were historically classivied colored.

Strong identificaiton with Arabic is predominant within the moslem community.

thre option for writing arabic:

Arabic script,

Roman Alphabet,

ascii-ized arabic

indexical field (Eckert 2008)

emblematic, symbolic resource, primary indeixcal field, mobile resources

New diversity only become intelligible i we also understand the board conformity from which they arise

A linguistics of particularity is always also a linguistics of generality.

My heartfelt apologies to the following colleagues whose session was on my agenda but which I couldn’t attend, either because my ubiquity is rather rusty at the moment or because of earlier commitments :

Jan Blommaert on Language and Superdiversity
Raoudha Kammoun on Gender, Politics and Language in Tunisia
Irene Theodoropoulou’s session on Sociolinguistics of revolution in world’s capital cities. In this instance, Irene was kind enough to share her powerpoint with us (OTHER SLonFB MEMBERS KINDLY INVITED TO DO LIKEWISE)

ss19 theodoropoulou

These three, and of course all our other colleagues who attended other sessions are kindly invited to share with us some of their notes as we will do for all those not able to attend our own Sociolinguists Symposium on Indigenous Languages in the City !

Today, I missed even more session I had circled and meant to attend, such as

This morning plenary by Shana Poplack on (When) do teachers make a difference
Anne Fabricius’s presentation on The international academic at the crossroads between the local and the International at the university
Irene’s session continued
Bettina Kluge’s Latin american blogging community in Quebec, Canada and
Arai Yukiyasu’s presentation on Linguistic landscape of ethnic businesses in the metropolitan area of Japan. However, I did manage to locate Yuki…or to be honest…he did ! So here’s his ppt


However…regrets and remorse aparts, I enjoyed thorowly Michael Hornsby’s presentation on Hornsby, M. (2012). Geographical shifts and linguistic changes: ‘new’ or ‘urban, speakers of minority languages. Languages in the City. Berlin, 2012.

Here are my notes, begging Michael for forgiveness and corrections : articularly focusing on welsh, breton and yiddish.

Cf. Sasse, 1992 about speech behaviour (external setting, speaech behaviour and structural consequences.

t1) traditional ML minority langauges: a geographical approach

Heartland of speech community.

cf. Irish Gaeltacht in Ireland: three maps showing how the territory is increasingly recessing.

in Wales, centering on the concept of Y fro Gymraeg (welsh speaking WALES). also recessing

2) shifts over the course of the 20th century: geographica>identity based speakers. (‘new’ speakers)

we fully support to restore and poularise welsih in other parts of wales. and we also support the welsh culture of those regions which is expressed through the medium of English or other languages. but we believe that the survival of th yfrogymareg is indispensable to the survival and development of walles in the rest of Cymru and as a national angage and to the survival of cyru as a nation 8replanacer cymrag and cymru pour wales.

use of breton in urban centres (cf. neo-bretonnant and nouveau gaelic) in scotalnd

immersion shools: in Brest, St Brieuc, Rennes, Nantes and Paris. Always traditional cities for Bretons. Motivation is much more identity based, even when they come from outside britany. more speakers in cities than rural areas.

shift in “Yiddishland”

Non territorial language  cf. Hickey and Newman’s quotations, ask Mike.

Still spoken in Hassidim communities. Gap between the hassidic and secular speakers.

on ne dirait pas que tu as apris dans les livres

Parfois les écoliers Diwan aussi, on apprend le brezhoneg, tourjous l’èaccent sur la dernière syllabe comme en français et pas l’accent sur la sillabe penultième comme en breton

Ma mère quand elle parlait francais elle parlait comme ça

c’est juste l’accent, après les mot c’est à peu près les mêmes. C’est juste l’acceent qui est Different. cf. Hornsyb 2010

in yiddish semi-speakers trying to acquire the language

Our teachers speak absolutely correctly, more correct than i do, but it hasn’t got the teym, it hasn’t got the taste

New speakers features in welsh show problemn with the fricative for example.

A territorial approach makes sense in the following cases:

language associated with a specific area supports the use of the minority langauge as a community langauge.

a ML still used as a community language provides a geographically identifiable area where there is a demographic concentratoin of native speakers

in the yiddish, these areas have changed over the past 70 years but they are still identifable and provide demographic density

With a core of speakers, learners are provided with an incentive to acquire th language.

cf. Christine James, first woman archdruid.

Reframing the ocus of language initiatives by making the MLcommunity

Also fascinating was Wicherkiewicz, T. (2012). Revitalization through Documentation – the Case of Wilamowicean, a Micro-Minority Language in Southern Poland. Languages in the City. Berlin, 2012.

Western Galicia

Poland, Bohemia and Russia region. 3500 aboriginal inhabitants. Bilingual towns with a specific germanic ethnolect mothertongue

ethnolinguistic distinctness: isolation, germanic mixed constructions language contact

Decline of language and culture.

Prior to WWII, common di-or triglossia (Wilamowicean, Polish, German

School and church in Polish

Austria (-Hungarian administration – bilingual (German-polish)

In 96, he predicted the death of this language within the next 15 years. Still 51 speakers. average age of 84, two young native speakers in their twenties, one in his 30s and two in their 50s, several children attend private classes

regional ensemble using more and more Wilamowecean in teir repertoire.

two contempora writers, Jozef Gara and Tymoteusz Krol, poet about his beloved old language.

Language landscape in Wilamowice is still very modest: two signpost found only.

Most important task: documentation. The language is fortunately well documented: dictionary and grammer. Masterpieces of literature, such as Florian Biesiek

More than 300 hours recordings (audio/video). 80 native speakers recorded, customs, mythology, folktalkes, memoreis and histories, biograms….

Looking for any piece of written language including short pieces written on napkins.

Standardized orthography is under way. 1200 entries with many examples.

2012, according to his prediction a time post the death of this minority language, there is even a signpost welcoming in both languages at the city entrance.

Need to create a platform to develop this language on the internet.

And finally, I met a myth, the so reknown and wonderful tale teller, Prof. Nancy Homberger Homberger, N. H. (2012). “Until I became a professional, I was not conciously indigenous” One intercultural bilingual educator’s trajectory in Indigenous language revitalization. Languages in the City. Berlin, 2012.

Self explanatory title. They see the daily use of quechua as complementary activities, vitalization of the language. Taking part to traditional rituals to mother earth. meeting other indigenous languages specialists. These meeting their conversations about their indigeneity, their interculturality. They are constructing a conscious indigenous identity. Continuing questioning ‘How Indigenous are you’  is a daily practice. Regarding their attitude towards Spanish being a bit extreme. “Spanish can defend itself whereas we have to defend Quechua”

But of course, all the fun of such meetings, is happening outside, in the corridors….such is my really cultural clash with a gentlement from Iraq who obviously took my merely polite questions about him as an open sexual invite… « eye contact » my dear, told me my friends, should be avoided with some men of the Middle East….So I got an invitation for dinner accompanying with a large gesture of the gentleman spraying himself lavishly with his deo or perfume…killing our colleagues who were trying to eat. And all this accompanied by super romantic glances probably meant to send me into his bed directly…as the publicity for his deo must have indicated 😉 « Small World » reincarnated !

That evening, we had a party with Raoudha, Sachiyo, Serafin, Michael and Tomasz…enjoying the out of this world delicacies Raoudha brought from our native hometown, Sfax!

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Alas the other Sociolinguists on Facebook had conflicting agendas, but we know we’ll catch up on Friday during our Minisymposium from 9 to 5 !


  1. Wonderful résumés, Daphné, of the presentations! Your notes on my own presentation are particularly useful – I transcribed the RPs’ words hastily, so your corrections of the mistakes are welcome! Many thanks. Very useful to read the accounts from other presentations, especially ones I couldn’t attend. And such magnificent photos! Merci!


    • My pleasure, Mike, I’m humbled by your kind words as our dear Uri would put it;-) Looking forward to getting your ppt if you wish me to add it to my update today;-)


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