Over recent decades Germany has become a melting pot of different cultures. Some migration took place after World War 2 when migrants were needed to supply their skills to industry, while other migration has occurred as the European Union has grown. This has led to the less well-off members migrating to Germany and other affluent European Union countries to seek a better life.
In 2018, Germany’s population is estimated to be around 82.29 million, which makes the country the 17th most populated country in the world. There is a high immigrant population in Germany, with a total of 16.3 million coming from an immigrant background. This means one in five people are immigrants. Most of the immigrants originate from southern Europe, Eastern Europe and Turkey.
How Immigration Changes Language
As many of us know, languages from other countries find themselves becoming used as part of many other country’s languages. This is a good example of just how immigration changes the language. In England, the words kindergarten, knapsack and wanderlust have German origins, while the word café is French, but is widely used throughout the world.
Apart from these influences, immigrants also affect the way their host country’s language evolves. Due to the high immigrant population in Germany, there are many examples where urban children can be observed who originate from Somalia, Arab countries and Turkey speaking non-standard German. These children have a tendency to use spoken German differently than the standard German language. The differences are so great that standard German speakers don’t understand the message being conveyed. As time goes on this way of using German will get to the point that it’s clear a new German dialect is evolving, which is called Kiezdeutsch. Despite the fact it doesn’t sound grammatically correct to someone born in Germany, this more simplified form of standard German is used by these specific groups of immigrant children. They will most likely carry this dialect onto the next generation.
It’s not just in Germany where dialects similar to Kiezdeutsch have developed, as the same trend appears to be apparent in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, France and Britain, particularly amongst urban born children where there is a high immigrant population. So it’s not just the high immigrant population in Germany which is having an effect on language but it has spread to other countries with similar numbers of immigrants, which also illustrates how immigration changes language.
How does Language Affect Immigrants in the United States?
In the United States, immigrants who have a poor grasp of English feel the effects the most in the education system. This is partly due to the fact that the parents can’t speak English so don’t understand what’s going on in their children’s schools. In Philadelphia, the state government has implemented programs in areas which are home to the most immigrants, such as English as a Second Language program. The state has 500,000 immigrants, making up 9 percent of its population.
Many of Philadelphia’s immigrant parents and officials became particularly concerned that a legal agreement drawn up in 2001 mandating the provision of translation services for non-English-speaking families had not occurred. Many immigrant children face the challenges of speaking one language at home and a second language at school. Now that more translation services are available it has forced schools to adjust and they are even actively recruiting multilingual staff to fill the language gap, which is a clear example of how language affects immigrants. Sooner rather than later these improvements will affect the language usage of immigrants and reduce the need for translation services.