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Journal Article

Language change and persistence within Turkish mosques in Germany: Transnational ties and domestic demands


Emmerich,  Arndt
Religious Diversity, MPI for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity, Max Planck Society;

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Emmerich, A. (2021). Language change and persistence within Turkish mosques in Germany: Transnational ties and domestic demands. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. doi:10.1080/1369183X.2021.1994377.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0009-9A91-5
Based on fieldwork done in two German states between 2018 and 2020, this article analyses linguistic changes and persistence within mosques established by Turkish immigrants. So far, few studies have focused directly on language as a key topic, including practical arrangements, preservation strategies and the consequences of both within local mosques. Germany constitutes an interesting example since unlike in the US, France or Britain, German Muslims – in particular the Turkish community – are more likely to retain their heritage language in mosques and families. Drawing on assimilation and diaspora theories, research on mosques in Europe and studies on transnationalism and bilingualism, the empirical analysis discusses whether mosques are custodians of heritage language and whether generational change leads to a shift from the heritage to host country’s language usage within these institutions. Rather than being on a unidirectional pathway towards language assimilation, the investigation reveals complex and multi-layered negotiations between host country and heritage languages in relation to generational and organisational changes within these religious institutions. Hence, politicians and policymakers would be well- advised to take bilingualism and linguistic diversity more seriously, ensuring sustained communication with and appreciation for future generations of German Muslims, rather than insisting on monolingual assimilation.