The centre investigates language and language variation in the context of migration, multilingualism, and across the lifespan – a central topic in modern societies. Its core is in the Philosophical Faculty, with cross-faculty links to cognitive science, and empirical educational science.
By investigating language and language variation in the context of migration, the centre addresses a topic that continues to play an important role in modern societies. For instance in Germany, today, nearly a fifth of the population has a migration background, and because of the comparatively high proportion of young adults and children within this group, this figure will increase further in the future. At present, every second inhabitant with a migrant background is younger than 34 years, and in the under-five age group, a third has a migrant background, with a higher proportion in urban areas. Within the multiethnic populations that develop as a result of this, new linguistic practices emerge. People acquire new linguistic resources and might also face new linguistic challenges. At the same time, the spectrum of linguistic varieties changes through processes of convergence and divergence that are visible, for instance, in the growth and decline of substandard varieties and the emergence of regional standards, and that are linked to such extralinguistic developments as internal migration and suburbanisation.
The field of language, variation, and migration is thus an area of high social relevance. The investigation of phenomena of language change, language contact, and language acquisition in the context of multilingualism can, furthermore, significantly contribute to our understanding of different aspects of the linguistic system and to linguistic theory formation.