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Urban slang is 'more logical' way of speaking

The Local · 29 Jan 2012, 14:15

Published: 29 Jan 2012 14:15 GMT+01:00

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Linguistics professor Heike Wiese says “Kiezdeutsch” which roughly translates as “neighbourhood German”, is a mutated, fluid form of high German spoken by urban young people across the country.

Incorporating many foreign words, the slang also simplifies German grammar, but is often dismissed as “ruining the purity of German language,” she said.

Wiese has spent over ten years exploring the language melting pot that is inner-city Germany to collect colourful anecdotes about the street language used by young people.

Kiezdeutsch” is, in many respects, a more logical spin on a complicated language, despite negative media coverage dismissing it as an incorrect version of German, said the professor from Potsdam University.

Her book “Kiezdeutsch: ein neuer Dialekt entsteht” – (Neighbourhood German – a new dialect arises) - aims to give an in-depth explanation to those left baffled by it, and proffer an argument as to why it holds its own linguistically. It will be published – in high German - in February.

Wiese uses the two letter word “so” as an example. She said that young people use it freely to lend emphasis to a statement – although it is not grammatically accurate, it makes sense.

Another example of “Kiezdeutsch” is “Gestern war ich Schule” (Yesterday I was school) which is grammatically incorrect but accepted and understood by most young people.

One of the teenagers Wiese interviewed for her book was 18-year-old Sharon Wendzich, from Berlin.

Wendzich told Wiese about an incident when she and a group of friends chatting on the street were approached by an elderly couple, one of whom asked them “What are you young people saying nowadays?” They couldn’t understand the “Kiezdeutsch” that the girls were using.

This, said Wiese, suggests that “Kiezdeutsch” should be considered as a dialect in its own right and not a bastardisation of the German language.

Young people can switch it on and off, though. She said none of her young interviewees, “spoke with their teacher in the same way they speak to their friends, unless they are trying to anger an authority figure.”

Kiezdeutsch”, which differs from city to city, is most common in multicultural areas, where different languages are mixed, said Wiese.

Young people of Turkish or Arabic origin seem to dominate the wannabe-dialect, she said.

Dalia Hibish, a 15-year-old from Berlin, has been working on a language project with Wiese.

She said she spoke mostly Arabic yet the majority of her neighbours are English-speaking and is taught in German - but in the school yard she speaks “Kiezdeutsch” – which for her is a mix of all these language.

Story continues below…

“Chatting in “Kiezdeutsch” sometimes is fun” said Madagascar-born Aichat Wendlandt who, like Wendzich and Hibish, is working towards her high school leavers’ Abitur certificate. But she admitted she did not speak it regularly.

While “Kiezdeutsch” crosses multicultural borders easily on the street, it has yet to be accepted in the classroom, as Wendzich discovered after slipping a phrase into her homework by accident. Her teacher wrote “What does this mean?” next to it.

“After eight years in a multicultural school it was bound to happen sometime,” Wendzich told Wiese.

DAPD/The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

16:45 January 29, 2012 by ChrisRea
Kiezdeutsch is not very exact. ¦quot;Gestern war ich Schule¦quot; means ¦quot;Gestern war ich in der Schule¦quot; , ¦quot;Gestern war ich vor/hinter/auf der Schule¦quot; or ¦quot;Gestern war ich bei der Schule¦quot;? So it can be understood only in a specific context, probably generated by a limited number of topics.

If the main difference between those who "understand" Kiezdeutsch and those who don't is age, then I don't think it can be qualified as a dialect.
13:29 January 30, 2012 by romber58

If the main difference between those who "understand" Kiezdeutsch and those who don't is age, then I don't think it can be qualified as a dialect.

I agree.

But in the end it doesn,t matter what label you put on it,Youngsters will always invent their own code and have always done so.

However,being fluent and having a good command of language and a rich ,nuanced vocabulary is so much more satisfying when seeking to express oneself precisely in any language.
17:59 January 30, 2012 by Landmine
Gesterday I war skool... American Kiezdeutsch
19:19 January 30, 2012 by Illogicbuster
This insanity (proposed by the usual suspects) swept the U.S. ~ 20 years ago. Thankfully, it was ignored by those with I.Q.'s>85 and thus, didn't drain any taxpayer money, MUCH to the disappointment if the liberal Academic parasites...
21:10 January 30, 2012 by Beachrider

Adolescent slang prevails to today in the USA. You don't say much about 'what got ignored', other than to offer gross generalizations.

The comments about liberal Academic parasites has no context and is fatuous.
23:35 January 30, 2012 by CharlestonWolfgang
Yes und? Me is schnuppe!
18:06 January 31, 2012 by raandy
romber58 absolutely, my wife (German) watched a movie with me where one teenager ask the other "are we Cool"? , she asked what does that mean?
18:59 February 1, 2012 by Spatenator
It's the German version of "Spanglish", ese.
18:53 February 3, 2012 by EinWolf
@Beachrider ... illogicbuster is likely talking about "Eubonics". At one time is was said to be a dialect of its own and it was even put forth that it should be teachers fluent in Eubonics should be hired to teach the kids.
00:44 February 5, 2012 by Richard Schmoyer
What with today's internet connectivity, gradual movement toward mixed languages can be anticpated. I wonder, however, if there is a gender tilt among young Germans who use KiesDuetch? In the US we have seen the widespread emergence of an accent that has spread wildly among younger women.This has been a trend for about twenty years, and now it is not uncommon to hear the gender differential amoung people in their early to mid -thirties. This gender based accent began in the 198o's when it was know as "Valley Talk".Supposedly teenage girls in the San Fernando Valley Distict of Los Angeles developed it. Today girls and women older than 12 are often heard enunciating the the rapid fire dialect. Words are enunciated very quickly, and R's are frequently trilled . Think in terms of the pronunciation of "Wat-eh-verrrr" (whatever) , a phrase used to diminish an another person's idea or opinion. American males of the Gen Y or the Millenial Generation rarely are heard speaking "Valley Talk". It is very definitely a "girly thing". To an older Americna male, a young woman who speaks "Valley" beyond the age of 18 or so, may sound shallow and not particularly smart. Even some of our young adult female newscasters now speak Valley on the national news.
09:40 February 5, 2012 by rodeme
It will not be long before the United States would ask China to help restore America's economic crisis. You may laugh with this news. As german chancellor Angela Marker ask China to help restore the economy of Western Europe. Do you already know this? You must read the foreign news. you must remember and realize the china in the United States has exceeded 20 million. China people in Europe already exceeds 100 million. We will rule the world. Although I and my family united states citizen. We continue to support the policy of the Government of China for our descendants. the china.
04:42 February 20, 2012 by EricIndiana
Youth culture is the generator of new language - it certainly is in the United States. It's mostly organic, but I'm trying to artificially alter the meaning of one word in particular: http://daisybrain.wordpress.com/2009/10/19/idea-7-pussy/
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