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Language discrimination in Germany : when evaluation influences objective counting

Issue: Vol 3 No. 2 (2019) Special Issue: Linguistic discrimination and cultural diversity in social spaces

Journal: Journal of Language and Discrimination

Subject Areas:

DOI: 10.1558/jld.39952


Language attitudes matter; they influence people’s behaviour and decisions. Therefore, it is crucial to learn more about patterns in the way that languages are valued. One means of doing so is using a quantitative approach with data representative of a whole population, so that results mirror dispositions at a societal level. This kind of approach is adopted here, with a focus on the situation in Germany. The article consists of two parts. First, I will present some results of a new representative survey on language attitudes in Germany (the Germany Survey 2017). Second, I will show how language attitudes penetrate even seemingly objective data collection processes by examining the German Microcensus. In 2017, for the first time in eighty years, the German Microcensus included a question on language use ‘at home’. Unfortunately, however, the question was clearly tainted by language attitudes instead of being objective. As a result, the Microcensus significantly misrepresents the linguistic reality of different migrant languages spoken in Germany.

Author: Astrid Adler

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