Language and Identity in Migration Contexts

by Patricia Ronan (Volume editor) Evelyn Ziegler (Volume editor)
©2022 Edited Collection XIV, 416 Pages


The volume «Language and Identity in Migration Contexts», which contains studies from different languages and migration contexts across the world, provides an excellent overview of the topic while highlighting some key elements like multilingualism, societal and educational contexts, as well as forced migration. The volume will therefore be of much interest to researchers working on these topics. (Prof. Dr. Anita Auer, Université de Lausanne, Switzerland)
The contributions to this volume shed a new light on various central topics in the discourses on language, migration and identity. The continued centrality of language on identity formation processes is underlined but it is shown that language is not a defining criterion for identity formation processes of migrants, in the context of migration or for heritage speakers in all cases. However, societal contexts play an important role in identity formation and these societal contexts themselves are strongly influenced by the ideologies that are prevalent in societies and that may be perpetuated in educational contexts. In the discussion of language, identity and migration in this volume, perspectives from the Global North are enriched by perspectives of the Global South, and the impact of media influence in migration discourse is analysed.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • Language and Identity in Migration Contexts: An Introduction (Patricia Ronan and Evelyn Ziegler)
  • Part I Multilingualism and Identity Building
  • 1 A View from the Sunshine State: Mapping Perceptions and Language Ideologies in Florida (Katharina von Elbwart)
  • 2 Russian and Polish in the Ruhr Valley: In Search of Similarities and Differences (Katrin Bente Karl)
  • 3 Identity of Individuals with Turkish Heritage in Germany (Shota Tanaka)
  • 4 Codeswitching as an Identity Marker in Eritrean Communities in the United States (Warsa Melles)
  • 5 Noising the Space for Reuniting: The Production of a Colombian Groupness in a Migratory Context (Salomé Molina Torres)
  • Part II Social and Societal Contexts of Language, Migration and Identity
  • 6 The Role of the Romani Language in the Preservation of Romani Identity in Hungary (Márton A. Baló)
  • 7 Migration and Communicative Practices in Multilingual African Communities: The Case of Chinese Traders in Cameroon (Jocelyne Kenne Kenne)
  • 8 Europe through Indian Eyes: Constructions of Foreignness in Indian Soldiers’ Letters (Manel Herat)
  • 9 Measuring Attitudes to Migration in the Media Automatically with Complementary Data Sources and Methods (Gerold Schneider and Maud Reveilhac)
  • 10 What Is Best Practice in Media Reporting on Migration? (Susanne Fengler, Monika Lengauer and Anna-Carina Zappe)
  • Part III Educational Contexts
  • 11 Transgressing Linguistic and Sociocultural Boundaries: Language Affiliation and Linguistic Practices among Second-Generation Immigrants in Swedish-Language Finland (Marion Kwiatkowski)
  • 12 Linguistic Inclusion of School Age Immigrants in Ruhr Valley Schools: A Translanguaging Perspective (Patricia Ronan and Warsa Melles)
  • 13 Linguistic Repertoires Beyond the Limiting Power of Ideologies: Fostering Reflexivity in Teacher Research on Multilingualism (Andrea Bogner and Jacqueline Gutjahr)
  • Part IV Forced Migration
  • 14 Displacement and Disorientation in a Narrative of Former Migrants from Germany to Palestine (Simona Leonardi)
  • 15 Recounting Central Biographical Experiences: An Analysis of Retellings in Interviews with Second-Generation German Speakers in Israel (Rita Luppi)
  • 16 Emotions and Their Relation to Places of the Migration Trajectory: Experiential Declarative Formulas in the Corpus Emigrantendeutsch in Israel: Wiener in Jerusalem (ISW) (Carolina Flinz)
  • Conclusion: Research Issues and Methodological Challenges (Evelyn Ziegler and Patricia Ronan)
  • Notes on the Contributors
  • Index
  • Series index


Figure 1.1.Composite map of Florida (n = 175).

Figure 1.2.Map of Florida for reference (created in Google maps).

Figure 2.1.Language proficiency (self-assessed).

Figure 2.2.Language proficiency (self-assessed) of 1.5-Generation: Russian and Polish.

Figure 2.3.Language proficiency (self-assessed) of heritage speakers: Russian and Polish.

Figure 3.1.Self-evaluation of the German language competence in speaking by generation.

Figure 3.2.Self-evaluation of the German language competence in writing by generation.

Figure 3.3.Self-evaluation of the Turkish language competence in speaking by generation.

Figure 3.4.Self-evaluation of the Turkish language competence in writing by generation.

Figure 3.5.Identification with Germany and Turkey by generation. Boxes show the mean +/− SE.

Figure 3.6.Identity groups by generation.

Figure 4.1.Language use at home.

Figure 4.2.Self-assessment of the level of proficiency in Tigrinya.

Figure 5.1.Transcript ‘The Song’.

Figure 6.1.Number and location of consultants (map courtesy of Mátyás Rosenberg).

Figure 6.2.The proportion of speakers and non-speakers.

Figure 6.3.Media usage in the urban survey.←ix | x→

Figure 6.4.Media usage in the rural survey.

Figure 6.5.Urban survey, this or that questions.

Figure 6.6.Rural survey, this or that questions.

Figure 8.1.Lexical words in the data.

Figure 8.2.A collocate graph for country using MI(2), L5–R5, C2.

Figure 9.1.Type of media use according to PEW Research Center.

Figure 9.2.Evolution of the percentage of people saying that ‘legal immigration into the United States should be decreased/increased’ measured by PEW Research Center from 2001 to 2018.

Figure 9.3.Relative frequencies of all our search terms and the dominant search term migration in NYT, CNN and Twitter.

Figure 9.4.Time analysis for topic 6 (war refugees).

Figure 9.5.Time analysis for topic 7 (Europe).

Figure 9.6.Conceptual map with 500 terms from the NYT newspaper.

Figure 9.7.Evolution of sentiment in the NYT and CNN newspaper and Twitter accounts.

Figure 13.1.Research interest and competency descriptions of the teacher training programme.

Figure 13.2.Activities/players, educational content and data (Phase 1).

Figure 13.3.Cyclical reflection settings.

Figure 13.4.A prompt processed in the Wikipage ZIMD 2020 WP.

Figure 13.5.‘ANdere beDEUtung = different meaning’: (Re)Producing ideologies in the interviews.


Table 1.1.Self-reported gender of respondents

Table 1.2.Self-reported age of respondents

Table 1.3.Self-reported ethnicity by respondents

Table 1.4.Answers to ‘Where in Florida do you think people speak best?’ (Q1)

Table 1.5.Answers to ‘Where in Florida do you think people speak worst?’ (Q2)

Table 1.6.Reasons given for answers to ‘Where in Florida do you think people speak best and why?’

Table 1.7.Reasons given for answers to ‘Where in Florida do you think people speak worst and why?’

Table 2.1.Language proficiency (self-assessed) for Russian / Polish, First-Generation

Table 2.2.Language proficiency (self-assessed) for Russian / Polish, 1.5-Generation

Table 2.3.Language proficiency (self-assessed) for Russian / Polish, heritage speakers

Table 2.4.Comparison of language proficiency

Table 3.1.Demographic information of the sample by generation

Table 3.2.Demographics of the participants depending on the identity group (identity groups were derived by cluster analysis)

Table 3.3.Religious communities of the participants by identity groups (identity groups were derived by cluster analysis)

Table 3.4.Results from multiple regression to predict ‘Identification with Germany’ or ‘Identification with Turkey’ with fourteen predictors←xi | xii→

Table 4.1.Participant distribution

Table 4.2.Counts and frequencies of codeswitching types (G.1.5)

Table 4.3.Self-identity

Table 5.1.Written and oral texts regarding ‘On the Skin’

Table 6.1.Preferred languages of those who speak Romani

Table 6.2.Preferred languages of those who speak Romani in the rural survey according to age

Table 7.1.Age groups of the respondents

Table 7.2.Number of years already spent in Cameroon by the respondents

Table 7.3.Chinese traders’ use of the Cameroonian languages

Table 7.4.Respondents’ proficiency in the Cameroonian languages

Table 8.1.Total number of letters and original languages they were written in

Table 8.2.The location and physical condition of the writer

Table 8.3.Type of words in the data

Table 8.4.Descriptive words in the data (RN = raw number of occurrences; DR = distribution of words)

Table 9.1.Results of automatic topic detection in NYT and CNN news articles for the period under study

Table 9.2.Results of automatic topic detection in NYT and CNN Twitter accounts for the period under study

Table 9.3.Results of t-SNE in NYT and CNN news articles for immigrants in the early and late periods under study

Table 9.4.Results of t-SNE in NYT and CNN Twitter accounts for refugee and migrant in the period under study←xii | xiii→

Table 16.1.EDFs, their occurrences, their distribution in the interviews

Table 16.2.Positive and negative emotion words in the scopus of X war Y

Patricia Ronan and Evelyn Ziegler

Language and Identity in Migration Contexts: An Introduction

1. Introduction

The present volume unites work on language, migration and identity.1 In migration contexts, language is one important object of research, which impacts centrally on issues concerning migration. Recent awareness of linguistic diversity has an impact on linguistics and neighbouring disciplines in several ways: concerning historical processes and scenarios of future migration, migration policies and governance, language instruction and social cohesion, because language is an important parameter of identity construction, social participation and social belonging.←1 | 2→

1.1 Development of Migration Patterns

Contemporary socio-political and economic development is influenced by international migration (voluntary and forced) to a large extent. In 2009, an estimated 3.1 per cent of the global population lived outside their home country (Etzold & Sakdaplrak 2012). Migration, which can be conceptualized as a dynamic process driven by the desire to overcome current conditions in a new location (Maas 2008: 24), is hardly a modern phenomenon. Yet, the concept of migration is strongly tied to the development of modern states and their sovereignty conceptually (Oltmer 2018: 1536–1537). Oltmer argues that effective management and control of spatial movement of population become possible only from the time of modern nation states. From the late nineteenth century onwards, increased nationalism leads to ideologies of monolingualism and ethnic homogenization. Workers’ representations lobby for securing the positions of local workers vis-à-vis immigrants, and welfare states are created which are interested in supporting their own citizens only. Citizenship is increasingly construed as consisting of both citizens’ rights and duties; concomitantly, citizenship requirements such as citizenship examinations including language proficiency tests have become a central tool of integration policies (Pulinx & Van Avermaet 2017).

Fundamental changes in population distribution within states were observed not only during economic transformation processes, such as industrialization, but also due to bilateral labour recruitment agreements (e.g. German Anwerbeabkommen with southern European countries between 1955 and 1968), which provided an administrative basis for the migration of large population groups driven by work-force shortages. Further reasons for past large-scale migration were not only related to war, particularly the Second World War and its aftermath, but also to displacements conditioned by former and present-day authoritarian regimes (Oltmer 2018:1539–1542). These past and present migration processes have been, and still are, objects of emphatic discourses on migration and ethnic identity (identification and attribution of oneself and others), belonging, membership and social cohesion. Yet, the exact ways in which these discourses unfold in space and time, how they relate and compete with other discourses and ←2 | 3→generate future discourses, have yet to be uncovered as migration promises to remain a topic of intense social discourse and ethical and political perspectives in the future.

So far, migrants still largely move to urban areas, and in many urban areas, we can observe processes of immigrant segregation particularly in less affluent areas and areas where other immigrants have already settled (Vertovec 2007; Blommaert 2010; Ziegler et al. 2018; Capstick 2020). For example, Aumüller and Gesemann (2016: 29–32) show for Germany that 61 per cent of migrants move to urban areas, 27 per cent to suburban areas and only 12 per cent to rural areas, but that a majority of these migrants (55.8%) lives in towns of less than 100,000 inhabitants. Urban areas typically have the assets to provide better integration services within easier reach of migrants than rural areas do. Yet the smaller communities may offer better personal inclusion of the migrants into the communities, as well as existing housing and education facilities due to general population loss in rural areas. As a recent survey in Germany suggests (Hallenberg et al. 2018), migrants feel better integrated, have more contact with the German population and are also more likely to engage in associations and political parties in rural than in urban communities. However, Aumüller and Gesemann observe that often migrant communities prefer to join existing networks of compatriots in urban areas (2016: 31), and forced settlement in areas unattractive to immigrants can cause lower integration and higher social dependence.

As a result of such settlement patterns of migrants preferring urban areas with pre-existing cultural diversity, we may find what Blommaert (2010) terms superdiverse societies. Superdiverse societies, both culturally and linguistically, arise where population groups2 with different backgrounds and personal circumstances settle and where large immigrant groups decrease and many small immigrant groups increase; differences may exist in country of origin, which themselves can also comprise further differences in ethnicity, languages, traditions, identities or religious practices, differences in migration channels, differences in the individual ←3 | 4→migrants’ social status, as for example, naturalized, recognized and temporary citizen or undocumented immigrant, differences in human capital, especially education, differences in access to employment, differences in locality, such as material conditions or presence of other immigrant groups, differences in the provisions made by local authorities, and differences in transnationalism, such as the level of contact kept with communities of origin (Vertovec 2007: 1049). For keeping in contact, digital media and technologies have become increasingly relevant for communicative networking in general and in migration contexts in particular, as well as for accessing information. Media usage provides a rich source to explore different ways of identity orientation such as ‘origin oriented’, ‘ethno-oriented’ and ‘world oriented’ (Hepp 2015: 212). To better understand intergroup attitudes, language hierarchies and language regimes (Pillar 2016), political, institutional, social, regional and interactional factors must be considered.


XIV, 416
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2022 (June)
Linguistics Migration Studies Sociolinguistics Language and Identity in Migration Contexts Patricia Ronan Evelyn Ziegler
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2022. XIV, 416 pp., 34 fig. b/w, 35 tables.

Biographical notes

Patricia Ronan (Volume editor) Evelyn Ziegler (Volume editor)

Patricia Ronan holds a chair of English Linguistics at TU Dortmund University. She received her PhD at Maynooth University (Ireland) and she has held further positions in Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Germany. Her main research interests are in language variation and language contact. At the time of writing, she is co-authoring an Introduction to Multilingualism for Palgrave Macmillan (with Sarah Buschfeld), and is working, amongst other projects, on the linguistic inclusion of migrants, on media language and on variationist pragmatics. Evelyn Ziegler is Professor of German Linguistics at the University of Duisburg-Essen. She earned her PhD in sociolinguistics at the University of Heidelberg. Her research focus is on language variation, multilingualism, computer mediated communication, linguistic landscapes and attitude studies. Currently, she is particularly interested in the construction of language attitude expressions in the context of migration and integration (Ziegler et al. 2020).


Title: Language and Identity in Migration Contexts
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