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The Status of Russian German in Siberia. A Case Study of Four Women Living in the Region of Krasnoyarsk (Russia)

Journal article
Authors Christiane Andersen
Published in CALL: Irish Journal for Culture, Art, Literature and Language
Volume 1
Issue 1
Pages 1-16
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Languages and Literatures
Pages 1-16
Language en
Keywords Russian, German, heritage language
Subject categories General Language Studies and Linguistics


Abstract This paper introduces the difficult relation between language, ethnicity and individual identity of the German population living in Siberia today. In 2010, we interviewed four women born in the former German Volga Republic but now living in a village in Siberia. Their German language and identity were strongly stigmatized as a result of the Second World War. Today they primarily speak Russian in their everyday communication. Nevertheless, the women’s ethnic identity is still very strong, - they call themselves “daitsch” (Germans). In the linguistic analysis, which can be seen as pioneer work for German in Siberia, we identified a large proportion of language contact phenomena such as code switching to Russian and contact-induced structural changes in this spoken German variety. The paper focuses on the essential role of the “mother tongue” that seems to elicit ethnic identity.

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