Turkish language provision in Berlin

© Lucy Hottmann

MA Dissertation 2008 abstract

Berlin has a large immigrant Turkish community. As in many other European cities, Turkish in Berlin has been shown to have a much higher vitality than other immigrant languages. Among other factors this is due to the strong support the language receives from maintained contacts with Turkey, extensive availability of Turkish media and a network of flourishing Turkish businesses and services. This study looks beyond the support from the Turkish community itself by asking if Turkish, and therefore multilingualism, is promoted in Berlin's public sector. The study observes a range of institutions from the areas of education, health, council offices and public services, examining what provisions are made in Turkish and asking what policies, if any, motivate such provisions. The observations reveal a clear lack of any linguistic policy at state or federal level other than that of ignoring languages other than German. A host of provisions can be observed but these are rather random measures often initiated by individuals. They are not aimed at promoting multilingualism but rather at facilitating communication for citizens who do not speak German. Furthermore minimal provisions in the area of education appear to be more decorative than substantial. Clearly Berlin's increasing multilingualism is not recognised as something to be protected. On the contrary, in spite of the fact that Germany is obviously an immigration nation, public services reflect the still prevalent monolingual ideology: In Germany we speak German.

MA Dissertation (pdf)