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Meet the multilingual single parent family

In this interview a multilingual single parent family shares how they perceive the linguistic imagery of the different cities they have lived
[SPEAKING DUTCH:] If I wasn’t able to speak Portuguese, I could not understand people in Portugal.
And I could not ask for an ice cream. The urban imagery of the two cities differs a lot. [SPEAKING DUTCH] I also compared languages somewhat. I would love to learn Arabic.
I grew up in Portugal and I lived in Portugal until I was 20. Then I moved to Greece for half a year. And when I was 24 I moved to Germany. I lived there 14 years, and since a year and a half, I live in the Netherlands. So I speak Portuguese, English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, a bit of Dutch and a bit of Frisian. So at home, I learned Portuguese, and through school I learned English and French rather early. And then later in life I learned German. And Italian– I did a course also in Italian. And now I’m learning Dutch and Frisian. So I mostly have foreign languages and my mother tongue Portuguese.
[SPEAKING DUTCH] I had to learn 3 new languages, but
I also compared other languages. For example, “Bos” [= forrest] in Dutch is like this. “Bosque” in Portuguese, so that is how I knew that that meant “bos”. And also “spreken” [= speak] in Dutch is similar to German, “sprechen”, so that is how I knew that this meant “spreken”. Also [Portuguese] “presentes” and presents. These are similar. That’s how I already knew some words.
At school we learn languages separate
Nearly everyday we study languages, So, Dutch, then English or Frisian At school, I would like to learn Arabic, Spanish and Chinese.
I would say that in the city of Hamburg, multilingualism in the urban landscape– in a more migrant-induced way– in which sometimes you only see signs in Turkish, because that’s the language spoken by the population of that particular neighbourhood. You don’t find it in Leeuwarden as much, yet. So the urban imagery of the two cities differs a lot. Yes, you see it in the shops, for example, that Hamburg also has sort of a multilingual identity. So lots and lots of restaurants, they have signs in German. But they also use the other languages as also a kind of advertisement. So saying, well, if you come here then you have a certain flair, for example, because I have something in Spanish.
So you do see it more than here, that multilingualism is really used for commercial purposes, to attract both the German speaking community by saying, “Well, if you come here then you have exotic products,” for example. But you also see it in Hamburg multilingualism is sometimes used by migrants, for migrants. So for example, there is a bank only for Portuguese migrants, because there’s a large Portuguese community there. And then the whole bank is only in Portuguese. So it’s not even meant for the German customers– possible customers. It’s more really meant for the Portuguese and maybe the Brazilian customers that go there, because there are enough customers to get this bank going there.
So you see the difference in the amount of language, the type of languages that you see, and also how they are organised. If they have the German translation or the English translation sometimes, or if they are just addressing the Turkish speaking community or the Afghan community or the Portuguese community. And this you don’t see Leeuwarden. If you see more languages, then it’s mostly Frisian and Dutch. Sometimes English. And then you might see some Chinese or Turkish, but almost not at all. And if so accompanied by the Dutch translation or the English translation. But never standing alone or almost never standing alone. [SPEAKING DUTCH] In Hamburg you see grafiti in multiple languages.
In Leeuwarden you do not see that much grafiti in multiple languages.
This is a good question about the minority languages in the city. And I really do notice a difference between Leeuwarden, where you really see the minority language everywhere. You have for example, the Frisian museum, and there everything is Frisian. I don’t think this would happen in Germany, that everything is in Plattdeutsch for example. But you do have a theatre in Hamburg in which you can hear plays in plattdeutsch Duetsch. There are radio channels sending out programmes in plattdeutsch. You can read the paper also in plattdeutsch and you can study plattdeustch. But it’s less visible in the urban scenery of Hamburg than Frisian in Leeuwarden.
So you see more the migrant languages in Hamburg, and less the minority language– the plattdeutsch thing. But you see more in Leuuwarden the minority language, and less the migrant languages.

In this video you will watch an interview with a single parent migrant family who has recently settled down in the Netherlands. You will learn about their languages and their daily language use. They will also share with you how they perceive the linguistic imagery of the different cities they have lived in.

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