Socio-Linguistic And Socio-Cultural Aspects Of Punjabi Indian Migrants Living In Germany

Doctoral Thesis / Dissertation, 2014

172 Pages, Grade: A


Table of Contents

List of Tables

List of Graphs

1. Introduction
1.1 Scope and Objective
1.2 Methodology
1.3 An Overview of the Existing Research
1.4 Chapterization

2. International Migration
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Motives for Migration
2.3 Indian Migrants Living in Germany: DifferentCategories
2.4 Punjabis in Germany

3. Migrants and Language
3.1 Language Acquisition Among Migrants
3.2 Ethnic- versus Host Society’s Language
3.3 Multilingualism in Germany- A Reality or a Myth
3.4 Language Maintenance and Shift

4. Migrants and Their Culture
4.1 Multiculturalism versus Cultural Pluralism

5. Migrants and Assimilation
5.1 Newcomers and Native Citizens
5.2 Transition from Home Country to Host Country
5.3 Assimilation and Integration
5.3.1 Assimilation Theories
5.4 We-They Distinction
5.4.1 Ethnic Group Formation
5.4.2 Socio-cultural Adaptation

6. Respondents’ Interview: Methodology

7. Respondents’ Interview: Data Analysis

8. Conclusion
8.1 Punjabi Community in Germany
8.2 Initial Settlement
8.3 Maintenance of Cultural Identities
8.4 Contact with India
8.5 Behavior Patterns
8.6 Attitudes towards India and Germany
8.7 Main Findings
8.8 Limitations of my Study
8.9 Directions for Future Research


Internet Sources


This is to certify that this thesis entitled “Socio-linguistic and Socio-cultural Aspects of Punjabi Indian Migrants Living in Germany”, submitted by Jyoti Sharma, Centre for German Studies, School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, is her own work and has not been submitted, in part or in full, for any other degree or diploma of this university or any other university.

We recommend that this thesis be placed before the examiners for evaluation.

Prof. Dr. Rekha V. Rajan Prof. Dr. Chitra Harshvardhan

(Supervisor) (Chairperson)

Prof. Dr. Rama Kant Agnihotri



I, Jyoti Sharma do hereby declare that the thesis entitled “Socio-linguistic and Socio-cultural Aspects of Punjabi Indian Migrants living in Germany”, submitted by me for the award of the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, is my own work, and has not been submitted for any other degree or diploma of this university or any other university.

Jyoti Sharma,

Centre for German Studies,

School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies,

Jawaharlal Nehru University,

New Delhi 110067.


At the outset, I thank the Almighty God for his providence and guidance in writing this Thesis.

I am greatly indebted to late Professor S.B Sasalatti, himself an expert on Sociolinguistics, for inspiring me to work in the related area, and for his immense encouragement especially at the initial stages of my work.

I owe special thanks to Professor Rekha V. Rajan, my supervisor, who offered continuous help in completing my work, provided motivation and emotional support to accomplish this study and stood by me through thick and thin and was extremely cordial.

I do take this pleasure and privilege to express my sincere gratitude and appreciation to my Co-supervisor, Professor Rama Kant Agnihotri for his invaluable guidance, advice and gentle admonishment, all of which helped me setting the right perspective towards this academic endeavor. My work would have never been completed without his help. I have benefitted from his knowledge, ideas and professional skills. Words are inadequate to express my sincere thanks to him.

My special thank goes to my chairperson Professor Chitra Harshvardhan for her empathetic encouragement as well as to the Centre for German Studies wherein I got the much needed scholarship to do research and conduct interviews in Germany. Moreover, I am very grateful to Professor Eva Neuland for providing much needed guidance in Germany and to Associate Professor Akshay Kumar for helping me with graphs and statistics. I am also thankful to Associate Professor Dr. Mishra for his continuous support.

I thank the staff of the library of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

I owe special thanks to Sajjan Kumar for being a constant help. Besides, my sincere gratitude goes to Sanjay Sharma for enlightening me about the German Studies in India.

I also want to thank my friends and well wishers to whom I owe much of whatever little I have accomplished in the academic field.

Finally, I take this opportunity to thank my Parents and my brother, my In-laws and my loving husband, for their constant support, encouragement and prayers, which have kept me going all along. They not only shared my trials and triumphs but also stood behind me as pillars of strength throughout the long period of my research.



Dedicated to my Family…..

Internet Sources

List of Tables

Table 6.1: Scale for Occupations of the Informants

Table 6.2: Scale for Educational Qualifications of Informants

Table 6.3: Scale for Medium of Instruction in Educational Institution

Table 6.4: Scale for Levels of Claimed Proficiency of Informants

Table 6.5: Scale for Reasons of Migration

Table 6.6: Scale for Various Cultural Activities

Table 6.7: Scale for Importance of Indian and German Society and Culture

Table 6.8: Scale for Plans to Stay in Germany

Table 6.9: Scale for Information about Living and Working Conditions in Germany

Table 6.10: Scale for Knowledge about Germany

Table 6.11: Scale for the Initial Response about Germany

Table 6.12: Scale for Satisfaction with the Living Conditions in Germany

Table 6.13: Scale for Finding the First Job in Germany

Table 6.14: Scale for Satisfaction with the First Job in Germany

Table 6.15: Scale for Change of Job

Table 6.16: Scale for Reasons for Change of Job

Table 6.17: Scale for Contact with Indian Families in Germany

Table 6.18: Scale for Remaining in Touch with Other Indians in Germany

Table 6.19: Scale for Interaction with Germans

Table 6.20: Scale for Places of Interaction with Germans

Table 6.21: Scale for Desire of Indians about Germans knowing the Indian Culture

Table 6.22: Scale for Desire to Stay in Germany

Table 6.23: Scale for Being Part of an Indian Organization in Germany

Table 6.24: Scale for Preference of Informants about their Children’s Life Partner

Table 6.25: Scale for Difficulty in getting the Visa for Germany

Table 7.1: Distribution of Informants by Age and Sex

Table 7.2: Distribution of Male and Female Respondents according to their Marital Status

Table 7.3: The Most Important Reason given by the Participants for Migration

Table 7.4: The 2nd Important Reason given by the Participants for Migration

Table 7.5: The 3rd Important Reason given by the Participants for Migration

Table 7.6: Educational Level of Migrants in India and Germany

Table 7.7: Distribution of Informants by Level of Education and Sex

Table 7.8: German Language Course of Different Levels attended by the Migrants in Germany

Table 7.9: Distribution of Occupation/ Profession of Migrants by Sex in India and Germany

Table 7.10: Languages spoken by the Migrants as First and Second Language at Home

Table 7.11: Languages spoken by the Migrants as First and Second Language outside Home

Table 7.12: Cultural Aspects of Male Migrants in Germany

Table 7.13: Cultural Aspects of Female Migrants in Germany

Table 7.14: Assimilation and Integration of Migrants

Table 7.15: Assimilation and Integration of Males and Females separately

Table 7.16: Plans for Staying in Germany (in years)

Table 7.17: Information about Living Conditions in Germany Prior to Departure

Table 7.18: Information about Germany Prior to Departure

Table 7.19: First Impression of Germany

Table 7.20: Satisfaction with the Living Conditions in Germany

Table 7.21: Getting the First Job in Germany

Table 7.22: Satisfaction with the Job in Germany

Table 7.23: Change of Job in Germany

Table 7.24: Two most Important Reasons for Change of Job

Table 7.25: Contact with Indian Families in the Beginning and Now

Table 7.26: Preferences of Remaining in Contact with Other Indians

Table 7.27: Interaction of Migrants with Germans

Table 7.28: Preferences of Indians about Germans knowing the Indian Culture

Table 7.29: Plans of Migrants to Stay in Germany

Table 7.30: Migrants being Part of any Indian Community in Germany

Table 7.31: Migrants’ Preferences of Spouse for their Children

Table 7.32: Difficulty in getting the Visa

List of Graphs

Fig.7.1: Distribution of Informants by Age at Arrival and Length of Stay in Germany

Fig.7.2: Distribution of Male Informants by Age at Arrival and their Marital Status

Fig.7.3: Distribution of Female Informants by Age at Arrival and their Marital Status

Fig.7.4: Distribution of Male Informants by Age at Arrival and their Most Important Reason for Migration

Fig.7.5: Distribution of Female Informants by Age at Arrival and their Most Important Reason for Migration

Fig.7.6: Distribution of Male Informants by Age at Arrival and their 2nd most Important Reason for Migration

Fig.7.7: Distribution of Female Informants by Age at Arrival and their 2nd most Important Reason for Migration

Fig.7.8: Distribution of Male Respondents by Age at Arrival and German Language Course attended

Fig.7.9: Distribution of Female Respondents by Age at Arrival and German Language Course attended

Fig.7.10: Correlation shown between the Occupation and the German Language Course

Fig.7.11: First Language spoken at Home by the Male Respondents vis-à-vis their Level of Education

Fig.7.12: First Language spoken at Home by the Female Respondents vis-à-vis their Level of Education

Fig.7.13: Second Language spoken at Home by the Male Informants and their Level of Education

Fig.7.14: Second Language spoken at Home by the Female Informants and their Level of Education

Fig.7.15: First Language used Outside Home by the Male Respondents and their Level of Education

Fig.7.16: First Language used Outside Home by the Female Respondents and their Level of Education

Fig.7.17: Second Language used Outside Home by the Male Respondents and their Level of Education

Fig.7.18: Second Language used Outside Home by the Female Respondents and their Level of Education

Fig.7.19: Frequency of Watching TV in German by the Male Respondents vis-à-vis their Length of Stay in Germany

Fig.7.20: Frequency of Watching TV in German by the Female Respondents vis-à-vis their Length of Stay in Germany

Fig.7.21: Frequency of Watching TV in Mother Tongue by the Male Respondents vis-à-vis their Length of Stay in Germany

Fig.7.22: Frequency of Watching TV in Mother Tongue by the Female Respondents vis-à-vis their Length of Stay in Germany

Fig.7.23: Distribution of Male Participants according to their Age at Arrival and Frequency of Watching TV Programmes in German

Fig.7.24: Distribution of Female Participants according to their Age at Arrival and Frequency of Watching TV Programmes in German

Fig.7.25: Distribution of Male Participants according to their Age at Arrival and Frequency of Watching TV Programmes in Mother Tongue

Fig.7.26: Distribution of Female Participants according to their Age at Arrival and Frequency of Watching TV Programmes in Mother Tongue

Fig.7.27: Distribution of Male Migrants according to Age at Arrival and Difficulty in getting the Visa

Fig.7.28: Distribution of Female Migrants according to Age at Arrival and Difficulty in getting the Visa

1. Introduction

Migration is an old and a well known phenomenon. “People move from one place to another, alone or together with others, for a short visit or for a long period of time, over a long or short distance. As the world is divided into territories of sovereign states, some migration goes across the national borders. It is of course this migration which is called international migration. Migration that takes place within the territory of a state is called internal or intra-national migration.” (Hammar et al. 1997: 15) My research deals with international migration between India and Germany.

Germany is one of the important countries of destination for migrants. It started after a whole generation of young Germans was slaughtered during the war; import of young labour for rebuilding a physically and economically shattered nation became imperative. The second wave of migration came in the 1950s. It started with the labour migrants (Guest workers) coming to Germany after German economy experienced boom. Since then Germany has become the country of immigration for many. Since 1984 many Sikhs fled to Germany and got political asylum here, as the German constitution has a clause for accommodating all those who are in Germany for reasons of political asylum.

Egle Jaceviciute and Ekrem Kuralay have categorized migration into different types: “Legal, illegal, irregular migrants; refugees; labour migration.” ( These various categories of migrants from India to Germany, living mainly in the urban areas of Germany at present are the focus of our study. “As on May 2012, there were 42500 non-resident Indians (NRI) living in Germany. Together with 28000 people of Indian origin (PIO) the Indo-German community numbers 70500.” ( The difference between NRI and PIO is that “NRI is acitizen of Indiawho holds an Indianpassport and has temporarilyemigratedto another country for six months or more for employment, residence, education or any other purpose. Aperson of Indian origin(PIO) is a person of Indian origin or ancestry who was or whose ancestors were born in India or nations with Indian ancestry but is not a citizen of India and is the citizen of another country. A PIO might have been a citizen of India and subsequently taken the citizenship of another country.” (

However, it was interesting to analyze historically the category of Indian migrants and the main purpose of their migration, for instance, whether they went as guest workers, skilled or unskilled workers or as highly qualified professionals and what profession are they carrying out in Germany today, whether their purpose of migration has been fulfilled or not and whether they want to continue staying in Germany or return to India subsequently.

Migration brings an important transition in the lives of the immigrants. They are not only distanced from their social environment, but they often have to give up their jobs, political rights, leave their social network, families and culture behind in order to adapt to a new environment where the existing norms and values might or might not exist.

Leaving the place of origin and assimilating in the new environment depends upon a number of factors including the personality, age, social background, education, and country of origin of the immigrant as well as the familiarity of the immigrant with the language, culture, customs and traditions of the host country. Further, the reason behind migration, whether it is a forced or a voluntary migration and the immigrant’s willingness to adjust play an important role in immigrant’s assimilating in or accommodating to the new country and its different environment.

The journey of the migrant from his place of origin till his assimilation in the new country is the crux of this research. Starting from the decision to migrate, the process of migration, problems in adapting the customs and traditions of the native citizens, difficulties with language and communication, solutions to overcome them, feelings of living as an immigrant in another country, alienation and assimilation, all this has become a part of this research.

1.1 Scope and Objective

Different societies have different cultural patterns, norms and values, religious beliefs, customs and traditions, verbal and nonverbal language. The differences between the two countries can sometimes be small, for example, what is eaten or worn in both the societies, but at times the differences can be big like different value systems and different religious practices followed everywhere, which might or might not be accepted or tolerated in the other culture.

“In the early period following a migration, states of disorganization are common in differing degrees of severity, and these may reactivate very primitive anxieties in the new comer, such as fear of being swallowed by the new culture or of being torn apart by it, leading to states of panic. These experiences result from conflict between the desire to assimilate with others so as not to feel left out or different, and the desire to be different, so as to continue feeling the same. These conflicting desires, the mixture of personal feelings and cultures, can cause confusion, depersonalization or unfulfillment.” (Grinberg and Grinberg 1989: 132) That means one of the problems which the immigrant faces in the new society is definitely the problem of cultural identity. While speaking of cultural identity, two expressions are of great significance: ‘Assimilation’ and ‘Acculturation’.

“As Rainer Bauboeck has pointed out, assimilation is different from acculturation in that the former requires some ratification by the receiving group. Thus, if acculturation is ‘the process by which an individual comes to acquire cultural practices belonging to the tradition of another group’, then assimilation is a further step ‘indicating a change of membership which makes an individual similar to a receiving community in the sense that the members recognize her as one of their kind.” (Barry 2001: 73) This is actually theory, in reality it never happens.

Hence, for an effective assimilation and integration it is important that people from both the cultures and societies develop a positive behaviour towards each other comprising tolerance and acceptance. Further, one cannot swim in two boats at the same time. If someone wishes to assimilate completely in the host society, then the person has to give up his/her existing cultural patterns.

The aim of this research is to get a complete picture of the sociolinguistic and socio-cultural aspects of Punjabi Indian migrants settled in Germany. Migration brings with it an increased cultural diversity. The question for this thesis is how Punjabi identity is shaped and maintained in Diaspora, what mechanisms allow the Punjabi speaking migrants to live and work within the new cultural milieu of Germany.

The objective is to see, what happens to individuals, who are born and brought up in one cultural context, when they live in a new cultural context. To what extent are cultural identity and characteristics important for the migrants and what is being done for language and culture maintenance? The basis for this research is intercultural communication and intercultural understanding between the Indians and the Germans.

Significant Questions to be answered by the Research:

1. What are the different reasons for Punjabi Indians to migrate and how do they feel as migrants in the other country?
2. What problems do they face in the other society, culture, and how do they cope with them?
3. Which language do the Punjabis prefer to speak while communicating in the different domains like family, workplace, education and employment?
4. To what extent can they speak the language of the host country and how frequently do they use this language?
5. Are they maintaining their language in the host country or can the shift be seen?
6. What major and minor changes do the Indians experience between the Indian culture and society and the German culture and society?
7. How different and difficult is it for the first generation immigrants and the second and third generation immigrants to assimilate and integrate in the host country?
8. Whether and to what extent do the Indians want to assimilate in the host society and how far has it been achieved?
9. Does migration influence the education of the migrants, especially the second- and third generation migrants?
10. Whether Punjabi speaking community is satisfied with the living and working conditions of Germany or do they want to return to India at some point of time?

1.2 Methodology

Primary source research for the thesis consisted of surveys and interviews with 240 Punjabi speaking migrants, mostly Sikhs, of different age, social class and occupation living primarily in 7 different cities of Germany namely Wuppertal, Essen, Köln, Düsseldorf, Berlin, Frankfurt and Nürnberg.

Migration is primarily about people and change that is people changing their lives while still trying to maintain their connection with the country of origin. Available literature contains insufficient information about the feelings of Punjabi immigrants migrated to settle in a new country, their customs, visits to Gurudwaras, the pain of homesickness and the constant encounter with the new practices, new language and unfamiliar neighbourhoods. My work is based on engaging with the Punjabi community in an atmosphere of trust and belonging.

Access to the Punjabi Indian community was possible initially through a Punjabi family living in Wuppertal, in the vicinity of our accommodation, who introduced me to their contacts. Once the communication was established with those people, following the snowball method further contacts were obtained from Gurudwaras located in almost all the big cities of Germany. Visiting these Gurudwaras as well as various restaurants and shops owned and maintained by Punjabi speaking community allowed me to meet a wide cross-section of this community and to develop relationships with them at a more personal level.

The survey cum interview method was thought of as the most efficient and effective for my topic, keeping in mind the cultural standards of the respondents being interviewed, the time involved and the need to ensure that my participants were comfortable in sharing information they were asked for. My knowledge of Punjabi language also helped as the survey was in English and there were many participants who came from small towns and villages of Punjab not having a command in English language.

Interviews were conducted mostly in the Gurudwaras, particularly in the dining halls or in the homes of the interviewees and consisted of a formal set of questions as well as informal discussion that ensued while filling up the questionnaire.

The aim of the interview process was to obtain elementary information about what motivated Punjabi migrants living currently in Germany to leave India, how they maintained their relationships further with each other and with their relatives in India, to what extent they maintained their cultural identity through language, festivals, music and films in Germany and what efforts did they make to help their children retain Punjabi language and follow their culture.

1.3 An Overview of the Existing Research

Different scholars have worked on various aspects of Migration and Diaspora.

Ajay Dubey (2003) discusses the Indian Diaspora and its linkages/perspectives in Nepal, Africa, Canada, North America and China. The chapters begin with the history of migration in the above mentioned countries. Subsequently he speaks about the different reasons for migration, the regions in which the Indian migrants live, the professions which the Indians practice, and their contribution to the host country, their problems in relation to migration and the time duration of their possible stay abroad.

Jain (2007) has shown the important data related to international migration of Indian immigrants with the help of statistics. The statistics show which member of which family from which region with what background has migrated in which year under what circumstances and what type of professions do they practice in which region of the host country.

Sekher’s (1997) book is considered to be an important work because he has discussed the entire process of migration in detail, thereby also referring to the return migration.

Grinberg and Grinberg (1989) connect migration with different aspects, like migration and language, migration and identity, age and migration.

N. Jayaram (2004) gives a very clear insight of the patterns of emigration from India, drawing attention to the main perspectives and strategic approaches. The chapters contribute to the study of the Indian Diaspora in a manner that the readers get a good overview of theoretical issues as well as the practical reality of patterns of Indian Migration, which has emerged as a major area of multidisciplinary research interest. A variety of important aspects such as phenomenon of sandwich culture, self identity, and social adjustment, modes of adaptation, family change, religion, language, ethnicity and culture are dealt with in his book.

Kovacs and Cropley (1975) have taken Australia as a receiving society and have discussed the different forms of assimilation of immigrants and their children. According to them, assimilation and alienation are the two interrelated concepts and they always go hand-in-hand.

Heike Wiese (2012) has written about ‘Kiezdeutsch’ in the context of migrants and language. Kiezdeutsch is a mixed language that started among adolescents in multiethnic urban areas of Germany. In this multiethnic setting, this language is used independently of the speaker’s ethnic background, that is, by youth of the majority culture as well as those with a migrant background. There is a common language developed and spoken by the youngsters, including the Germans as well as different migrant groups living in Germany, which might or might not be understood by everybody in Germany. So, it is not only the migrants who are learning the German language for the purpose of integration, but the Germans are also learning another language which has characteristics of the migrant languages as well, to integrate into the youth community.

Patrick Eisenlohr (2006) narrates the formation of diasporic identities among Hindus in Mauritius. Eisenlohr has emphasized on the variety of cultural practices that construct and transform boundaries in diasporic communities, thereby also referring to the temporal relationships between Diaspora and homeland. He has further focused on the values of linguistic practices whose deployment in the everyday social interaction results in ethnolinguistic forms of belonging pointing to a diasporic homeland.

P.W Preston (1997) views political and cultural identity in the context of changes across the political landscape. In different chapters the author wants to throw light on the impact of identity of a changing global environment. Preston analyses political, cultural and economic identities which lie at the centre of individual actions and social structure. He defines ‘identity’ systematically thereby taking aspects like family, community, local area, institutions, little and great traditions, formal realms and so on into consideration and says that there are patterns of activity and understanding which are close to us and intimate, and others which are more remote from our routines and from our intimate relatives and friends. In this sense identity has depth in that some matters are more important than others. These patterns of activity and understanding overlay one another. We do not change our identity like a suit of clothes, but in different social situations different aspects of self come to the fore and other aspects move into the background. He further elaborates his point and says that identity is carried in language. The sets of social relationships which constitute identity are understood within language.

Studies in Kim (1986) primarily deal with interethnic communication in the United States. The book is divided into three parts namely ‘Analyses of Message decoding patterns’, ‘Language and Verbal/nonverbal behaviour in interethnic interaction’, and ‘Ethnicity in the development of interpersonal relationships’. These parts further contain different chapters. The introduction is given by Young Yun Kim in which he says that the problems of interethnic relations seem particularly intense in today’s world. The emergent cultural formation of historically “minority” groups is challenging the definitions of the standard and the dominant in many societies. Here the author is referring to the conflict between Whites and Blacks in South Africa, the impact of which is felt in many other parts of the world as well.

Therefore, systematic research is required to help understand the ways individuals and groups with different ethnic backgrounds interact with, and relate to each other. The author wants to find ways to provide effective communication and establish cooperative relationships across ethnic boundaries. The term interethnic communication is employed here as a fragment of intercultural communication within a certain boundary that applies to communication between individuals who differ in ethnicity. The eleven chapters presented in this book demonstrate this multidisciplinary nature of interethnic communication research. Focusing on specific aspects, they present a wide range of varied perspectives.

Mahajan (2002) is also relevant for my research. She makes a clear distinction between ‘cultural pluralism’ and ‘multilingualism’ and opines that “Cultural plurality has been a hallmark of many societies for a very long time. However, the existence of plurality at the societal level does not imply that multiculturalism as a value prevailed in these societies. The simultaneous presence of many cultures and communities within the same social place points to a plural social fabric, but it does not betoken the presence of multiculturalism. The latter entails something more than the mere presence of different communities or the attitude of tolerance in society. Multiculturalism is concerned with the issue of equality: it asks whether the different communities, living peacefully together, co-exist as equals in the public arena.” (Mahajan, 2002: 11)

John Hutchinson & Anthony D. Smith (1996) define and elaborate different terms like ‘ethnic identity’, ‘ethnic origin’, ‘ethnicism’, ‘ethnocentrism’ in their book Ethnicity . In the chapter on Diaspora, they say that Diaspora people, host society, and homeland are interconnected. Migrants have a tendency to maintain strong ties to their countries of origin even long after they have migrated. Their success in doing so is conditioned by their access to resources, the opportunities offered by the host society, and their degree of solidarity.

Hammar et al. (1997) talk about the various reasons for migration illustrating the push and pull model, the dilemma of going or staying back, the time and space involved therein as well as the immobility factors and return migration.

Schneider (2005) discusses about the monolingual and multilingual societies and the assimilation of migrants in the educational institutes of the host countries Germany and Great Britain respectively in her book Linguistic Human Rights and Migrant Languages . According to her, forcing groups, either actively or implicitly, to give up their language and linguistic identity can be termed as ‘linguistic genocide’.” (Schneider 2005: 20) She further says that “in the case of migrant languages, negative attitudes are increased by the very low cultural capital of these languages and by the assumption of mainstream discourse that migrants have to assimilate, and thus have to shift to the dominant language anyway.” (Schneider 2005: 43) So, the concepts of language shift and language maintenance as culture shift and maintenance are also the major issues to which she contributes through her book.

Oommen (2002) analyses the aspects of intercultural communication in multinational settings as well as linguistic pluralism in the European Union. He further discusses the issue of “The others-‘us’ and ‘them’” in the context of host country and the migrants in detail.

Pal and Chakrabarti (2004), talk about the concept of citizenship which has been changing since the latter half of the twentieth century due to several factors, one of them being the large scale movement of people. Further, the assimilation factors are discussed wherein the authors believe that reception and acceptance in the country of adoption do not work on purely humanistic consideration. The host country’s immigration laws, legal system and cultural openness or otherwise is all equally important. None of these factors can be ignored or side-tracked where experience is concerned.

Sharma (1996) has divided his book into twelve chapters . With profound understanding of the socio-economic, political and cultural conditions prevalent in different societies, the contributors in this volume have raised issues, such as ‘Does pluralism exist as fact in practice?’, ‘Why do the ethnic minorities become objects of socioeconomic discrimination and deprivation even in plural societies championing multiculturalism, equality and protection for all before and from law?’, ‘Is multiculturalism a reality?’, ‘Why do ethnic minorities agitate?’, ‘Why does regionalism become a focal point for political debate and mobilization?’ These and many other such questions have been dealt at length in this volume.

Joshua A. Fishman’s (1972, 1976, 1978, 1989, 1991) contribution towards sociolinguistics and sociology of language among others are very relevant from the point of view of my research topic, as they provide a basic as well as in-depth understanding of the concepts like ‘Sociolinguistics’, ‘Small Group Interaction,’ ‘Large-Scale socio-cultural processes,’ ‘Bilingualism and Diglossia,’ ‘Language maintenance and language shift,’ ‘Language contact and immigrant languages’, ‘Assimilation and non-assimilation of European linguistic minorities’ and so on which form the base of my research.

For instance, he has suggested three major sub-divisions of the study of language maintenance and language shift. “The first talks about the establishment of habitual language use in a contact situation. The second deals with psychological, social and cultural processes that are related to the ascertained changes in habitual language use. The third pertains to behaviour toward language.” (Fishman 1972: 110) Similarly, a very clear view and understanding is available in his books for the other above-mentioned topics.

Like Fishman , Dell Hymes’ (1964) contribution towards sociolinguistics provide a good insight in my topic by giving broad outline of the various concepts and definitions.

In what way is this Research going to be Different

Considerable work has been done in the area of migration studies but no in-depth research has been carried out on Punjabi Indian migrants settled in Germany and their sociolinguistic and socio-cultural perspectives. The reason could be that Indians are represented in Germany only as a small group of migrants and the sub-categorization of Indians in further categories and their study has not been done.

Goel (2007) has researched on Indian migrants who migrated to Germany starting from the First World War till 2005. She has described the different categories of migrants who emigrated from India at different periods for different reasons. Further, she has talked about the changing immigration rules of Germany and also about the Internet portal through which Indians remain in contact with one another in Germany and exchange their views. However, the sociolinguistic and socio-cultural aspects haven’t been touched upon by her as well.

Thus, the topic is new from the research point of view and also relevant because in the era of globalization we constantly speak of intercultural dialogue and understanding between India and Germany. When individuals migrate from one country to another, then one believes that their cultural identities would change, but when two cultures come in contact with one another, then the exchange of norms, values etc. takes place generally in both the directions. One prefers to maintain some aspects of one’s culture, but also learns and perceives the important aspects of another culture. That is how the bicultural identities are formed, which is one of the consequences of migration.

Important Issues

1. How and to what extent does the social interaction take place between the Germans and the Indians?
2. Whether language turns out to be a hurdle in the process of interaction?In which situations do “language shift” and “language maintenance” come into question?
3. Whether the Indians want to retain their cultural and national identity in the host country or are they ready to assimilate fully in the host society?

1.4 Chapterization

The introductory chapter lays down the theoretical foundation of the research wherein an extensive survey of the existing literature as well as the structural and methodological approach for the further chapters is briefly discussed.

Chapter two outlines the migratory pattern of Punjabi migrants to Germany. Beginning with the migration of men away from their home to Germany and their occasional return, it basically focuses on the later wave of migration that began particularly in the 1980s, when the majority of Sikhs emigrated from India to various countries, one of them being Germany, as a result of communal violence and riots in India after the assassination of Mrs. Indira Gandhi. It was this period that formed the basis of the Punjabi Diaspora across the world and it marked an era of tremendous change to the way of life of both communities.

At this point Punjabis moved from being Punjabis in Punjab surrounded by the cultural values of the past, to being Punjabis in Germany where they were faced by the cultural otherness and had only their own memories and their core culture to help them maintain their identity in Diaspora.

Chapter three examines how and in which language do the migrants communicate in different domains such as family, work place, education and friend circle and in which context or under what circumstances do language shift and language maintenance come into play. Various factors influence the use of language of migrants in a foreign country, which will also be discussed here.

Chapter four looks at the various aspects of culture including norms and values, customs and traditions of migrants and how these influence the intercultural communication among the migrants and the native citizens. Further, the concept of multiculturalism and its prevalence in Germany as well as its repercussions for immigrants would form the core of this chapter.

Chapter five discusses the identity of the migrants in a new environment. “In human migration two unique factors need to be recognized: migration does not mean the mere physical movement of people. Migrants carry with them a socio-cultural baggage which among other things consists of (a) a predefined social identity, (b) a set of religious beliefs and practices, (c) a framework of norms and values governing family and kinship organization, and food habits and (d) language. More important, the migrants are not inevitably irrevocably cut off completely from the land of their breed. They themselves may retain physical and/or mental contact with their homeland, often characterized by what is called ‘the myth of return’.” (Jayaram 2004: 16) These factors and their interrelation with the assimilation, acculturation and integration of migrants would be discussed here in detail.

Chapter six states the methodology and chapter seven analyses the results of the interviews, observation and surveys conducted in Germany of Punjabi speaking migrants of different age groups, occupations, social backgrounds and regions settled in Germany due to various reasons.

Chapter eight outlines the results of the empirical research and the theoretical considerations and draws certain conclusions with regard to Punjabi migrants in Germany, especially their sociolinguistic and socio-cultural aspects.

2. International Migration

2.1 Introduction

It is an obvious fact that people of one culture continuously engage in interactions with individuals from cultures other than their own. Reasons for this phenomenon include developments because of globalization, increase in international tourism, changes in immigration policies and the migration. It has become clear that in such a scenario we are increasingly coming into contact with those who are different from ourselves. Though it is true that migration has become more common in recent times, but movement of people and intercultural contact is as old as human society. Many societies in the world have now become multicultural because of migration.

The last two decades have witnessed the mass movement of populations, with millions of people migrating to begin new lives at new places. For some, the migration arises out of necessity, wherein people are forced through persecution, starvation or economic hardship, for others it has been a well thought of process, where the migrants are motivated by ambition and opportunity. Whatever the reason, citizens of one nation are uprooting their lives, undertaking a long journey, and starting new lives for themselves in a new destination, at times in the form of chain migration, and sometimes also individually migrating outside of one’s ethnic community.

According to Singh (1999: 343), most of the available literature talks about direct migration of people to their destination country. However, for many migrants, it might not be their first movement and they might have migrated to one, two or even more countries before finally settling for the present country. Accordingly, there is also a difference in the mind-set and orientation of both these categories of migrants.

Diaspora populations are therefore varied in nature, different by the reasons for migration, timing, regions, and socio-cultural background and how migrants deal with social, cultural, political, economic, and environmental conditions in destination countries, how they are received by the native citizens of the host country, and how they view their original hometown and its culture being in the other country.

Migrants, apart from contributing to economic growth, also have an impact on the social and cultural spheres of life of the host society. All over the world, people from different countries speaking different languages, having different customs, religions and ways of living are coming into contact with each other. With this, most societies in the world are experiencing diversity in some sphere at some level. At the same time international migration brings with it also some major challenges. Perhaps the most talked about is the connection between migration and security. For instance, after the incident of 9/11 there has been a perception of a linkage between migration and terrorism.

Especially irregular migration is regarded as a threat to the public security and national sovereignty of the destination country. In a number of destination countries, host societies and their governments have become very fearful about the constant inflow of migrant communities which come from different parts of the world, speak different language and follow different values and customs.

On the contrary, migrants who leave their home country also face various problems at different levels. For instance, many migrants and their children face discrimination and prejudice, and differential treatment from the host society, even years after they have settled abroad. So, migration matters to both the native citizens as well as to the migrants themselves.

2.2 Motives for Migration

People migrate for many different reasons. “To many people in the world, mobility is equated with opportunity, and the freedom to move is cherished as a fundamental right. On the other hand, the act of migrating and the pulling up of roots is neither opportune nor a matter of choice to the millions of persons, such as political refugees, who have become displaced from their homes by events beyond their control” (Nann, 1982: 1). India is not an exception to this phenomenon of migration. Many people migrate to different developed countries with specific goals and dreams. The migrating population is heterogeneous in nature consisting of men and women both young and old from different family and educational backgrounds.

On one hand there is the educated lot of migrants which consists of doctors, engineers, nurses, teachers, students, scientists, research scholars among others. On the other hand, there are uneducated migrants working in restaurants, bars to earn a livelihood and support their families back home. It is often the latter category, which has been forced by their circumstances to migrate and which has to face problems of racism and discrimination and has to put in much struggle for survival in the host country.

According to Kovacs and Cropley (1975: 29), two types of factors influence migration: The ‘pull factor’ and the ‘push factor’. “The pull factors tend to derive from the attractions of the receiving society as perceived by the would-be immigrants while they are still in the homeland. The push factors are generated in the personal everyday life of the future emigrants, and in their socio-economic surroundings in the homeland.”

Keeping these pull and push factors in view, the motives of migration can be further classified into the following categories:

1. Economic Factors: People migrate to seek opportunities for economic betterment, which means better work and study opportunities in other countries which are more developed, have better resources at their disposal and where one stands a better chance of achieving one’s goal. Particularly when the migration is from a developing country to a more developed one, then economic factors are one of the main motives behind it to make a better life economically for themselves and their families.
2. Psychological Factors: According to Hammar et al. (1997: 41), people have developed a certain image of the country they are planning to migrate to, either through interaction with others or by getting information from other sources. This can either be a positive or a negative view about the host country and its native citizens. For instance, if someone has read about German history and is familiar with the Nazi era, then one could have a preconceived idea about Germany in its entirety, that the feeling of hatred against other religions and communities might still be prevalent in Germany. Keeping this in mind, one may hesitate to choose Germany as the country of one’s destination. These cognitive images hold true not only in the case of international migration, but such stereotypes exist when people migrate within the country as well.
3. Political Factors: Political instability or political ideology (communism, capitalism) of a country is also one of the major reasons for migration. For example, when China adopted communism in 1949, many businessmen migrated to Hong Kong. Political instability, for instance, has a negative effect on the economy of a country, which in a way also leads to migration to neighbouring countries. Political instability on one hand leads to migration, but migration on the other hand can also be a major reason to start a political debate in the country. For example, Japan is facing labour crises due to the aging society, low fertility rate etc. And these crises can be tackled by relaxing the immigration policy but Japanese government and people do not want to disturb the homogeneity of Japan. So, immigration has become a major issue in Japanese politics. Diaspora movement affects not only the citizens of the countries of emigration and immigration, but also the governments and economies of both the countries as the migratory population, their number, their reasons for migration, and their socio-cultural and demographic backgrounds are in turn likely to have an influence on the political stability or instability of the origin and destination countries. Therefore, the national border is nowadays the most important barrier influencing international migration. Especially, after the terrorist attack of 9/11, the authorities are keeping a regular check and strict control on the inflow of migrants into their countries. Further, the rules and procedures pertaining to visa procurement have undergone a change in many countries. Another example would be of countries going through economic crises, where job opportunities are in unequal proportion to the number of unemployed persons. In this case as well, the state governments would not prefer uneducated or jobless immigrants entering their country in search of employment. A third case where the migrants might face problems would be the unhealthy diplomatic relations between native and host countries or if they have come to seek asylum.
4. Cost Factors: Migration is a well thought of process. Lot of time and efforts are involved in deciding about the destination country. One of the major factors influencing this decision is that of cost to be incurred in the entire process and cost of survival in the destination country. Hammar et al. (1997: 193) talk about not just ‘direct monetary costs’ but also ‘opportunity costs’ of settling down and the ‘psychological costs’ of adjusting in a foreign environment and the role which relatives and friends, who are already there in the destination country, play in reducing these costs.
5. Information and Networks: Information generally comes from family members abroad to those who initially stay behind. Such information reduces uncertainty and is likely to ease the decision to go for other family members. It is easier to migrate if members of the same social group already live in the destination country. In the initial stage, networks including family and friends of the same ethnic background play an important part. Family not only provides moral support but also acts as a source of economic security particularly for migrants in lower income groups.
6. Physical Environment: Migration can be a result of environmental disasters such as famine, floods, draught and earthquakes. This is the reason why international migration mostly takes place from underdeveloped or less developed countries, which are at more risk of physical and environmental calamities, to more developed ones which are better equipped with resources to tackle with unforeseen calamities. Further, people also try to migrate to countries where the climate is similar to their country of origin, or at least where the climatic conditions are not very adverse, so that they don’t have health and skin problems in the long run.
7. Linguistic and Cultural Environment of the Host Country: If there are vast differences in the language and culture of the origin and the host country, then it is considered as a major obstacle for migrating. Once migrants are in communities where their language, food, culture and traditions are not easy to practice because it is not part of the host society’s culture, they have to adapt to the new culture or remain isolated in the new society. Yet many immigrant groups find ways of sustaining their languages and culture in an alien environment. Language definitely plays an important role in migration. One of the reasons why so many Indians are settled in USA or Britain is that the language of communication in these countries is English, which the Indians are familiar with, though the degree of familiarity will again differ from person to person. In addition to this, there are countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Dubai where Indians are present in large numbers. In fact in Singapore and Mauritius, there is also a place famous by the name ‘Little India’, where Indian communities reside and one gets to see different aspects of Indian culture and tradition.
8. Geographical Factors: The emphasis on the centrality of location of people in space, rather than other factors that affect their lives sets geographical factors at a different pedestal w.r.t the causality of the motives behind migration. “However, it is important to stress that migration is not only a response to environmental conditions, but is also related to people’s individual attributes, qualities and assets, and most certainly to the social relations between people. Age, sex, class and ethnicity also affect migration decisions. Class structure, gender systems, cultural values and racism at places of origin and destinations are factors that strongly affect the opportunities of women and men with different social and cultural backgrounds to make a living, to find employment, to adjust and to migrate.” (Hammar et al. 1997: 32)

If we consider the factor of ‘Age’, then we assume that a person generally migrates at a young age, especially if the motive of migration is economic, that means one is looking for better career opportunities or standard of living in the host country. At an older age, even the migrants settled abroad have the desire to return to their home country and spend the rest of their lives there, where they feel associated with their roots, unless the person has spent most of his/her life in the host country.

The geographic distributions and settlement into new areas, social environment, language and cultural differences influence the way immigrants lead their lives and construct their identities in the receiving country. The original motives and intentions of the migrants also influence the tendency of the migrant to learn the language of the receiving society, develop social networks with the native citizens, participate in the events of the receiving society and integrate into the culture of the host society.

There are three recurrent themes in the existing literature on overseas Indians. “The first is that overseas Indians tend to recreate Indian social structure wherever they go. The second is that they tend to hold fast to their native culture in their lands of adoption. The third is that their mode of adaptation is marked by a clear preference for economic integration more than cultural assimilation.” (Jayaram 2004: 47).

Important is to analyze and understand whether this pattern remains the same for all Indian migrants irrespective of their socio-cultural backgrounds, age, sex, level of education, occupation and motivation for integration or do factors like different reasons for migration, satisfaction with the new environment, age at arrival and length of stay of migrants as well as different motivations for language maintenance and shift as well as cultural maintenance and shift influence the ways in which migrants feel about their origin and host countries.

2.3 Indian Migrants Living in Germany: Different Categories

“The Indian population in Germany is relatively small. According to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, there were 48,280 Indian citizens living in Germany at the end of the year 2010. For the overall picture, however, it is necessary to assess not only the number of NRI (regular and irregular) but also the quantity of Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) living in Germany. This is not always easy since there is hardly any specific statistical data on Indians after they have obtained German citizenship. According to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, more than 8,000 Indians were naturalized and officially became German citizens between 2002 and 2010 alone. The children of PIO are not a part of any official census, which makes it very difficult to measure the overall strength of the Indo-German community exactly.” (http://www.india-eu-migration)iv

The emigrants from India are a heterogeneous lot. They vary in terms of their religious, caste, regional, occupational, linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Indian migrants have been a part of German society since the time of freedom fighters like Subhash Chandra Bose, who sought support from Hitler for their fight against the British colonial rule. Followed by them were Indian students, who were attracted by the excellent reputation of German universities.

Apart from those who arrived immediately after the war, migrants from India also arrived in 1960s and 1970s when major industries in Germany found themselves with a shortage of workers for their factories and plants. A wide range of factories were hiring migrants for particular tasks, especially log-wage and unskilled jobs, as Germans were not ready to do these menial jobs.

At the same time there was also a shortage of staff in the health sector, so nurses from Kerala were recruited. After the economic recession started in West Germany in the 1970s, the work permits of the nurses was not extended by many federal states. Therefore, most of the nurses returned to India, some could stay as they were married to Germans.

Sikhs in Germany form another Indian religious group, which has established a religious infrastructure there including many Sikh Temples (Gurudwaras), especially in the big cities of Germany. After the immigration norms became stricter in the 1970s, it became difficult for the ‘Indian’ migrants to legally enter the country. Mainly students, spouses of the migrants and asylum seekers could seek legal forms of entry. Therefore, many Sikhs from Punjab decided to go to Germany on asylum in order to flee from the violence surrounding them in India following the riots of 1984 and the demand for an independent ‘Khalistan’. After the period of asylum, the migrants began to stay in Germany either illegally or they resorted to marriage with a German citizen, so that they have the legal documents and can apply for the German citizenship subsequently. Some of the Sikh asylum seekers were also able to employ themselves in the skilled labour force; many were however forced by their uncertain legal status to do unskilled or semiskilled work.

A major change with respect to migration of Indians to Germany was felt in the year 2000 when the then German chancellor announced a ‘Green Card’ programme for IT specialists and especially mentioned ‘Indians’ in this context. A good number of young professionals from India utilised this opportunity and came to Germany, some single and others with families. However, the Green Card was restricted to just five years and language also proved to be a major hurdle for yet many other people aspiring to migrate to Germany.

On the other hand, there is the second generation Indians, who have been brought up in Germany. For them Germany and German language is not unfamiliar. In fact, those who came at a very early age consider India as their second hometown, the first being Germany. Some of them have travelled to India regularly or have even lived there for some time. Others understand India only through their parents, who still have associations with India. Some speak an Indian language fluently; some still practice an Indian religion. But still they carry a double identity and the differences are recognized by their names and skin colour, or they lie in different family values and experiences. At times it is difficult to cope with this double identity because one is not sure where one belongs. At times, one may feel that one has something of both the cultures but sometimes one can also be frustrated when one realizes that one neither knows India and Indian culture properly nor have close networks and associations with the Germans and their society, as one is still treated as a migrant among the Germans. As Jayaram argues:

“Having almost unique socio-cultural backgrounds and being subjected to different economic and political situations, the Indian communities abroad have evolved as distinct diasporic entities. They are nevertheless Indian as they manifest in varying degrees the survival, persistence or retention of several social patterns and cultural elements whose roots and substances can be traced to India.” (Jayaram 2004: 17)

Further, Safran’s (1991, p. 83ff) six-point model that lays down the features of Diaspora include ‘dispersal from the original homeland, retention of collective memory, vision or myth of the original homeland, partial assimilation in the host society, idealized wish to return to original homeland, desirable commitment to restoration of homeland and continually renew linkages with homeland’.

In this backdrop we would see in the following chapters whether Punjabi Diaspora contains all these or some of the factors.

2.4 Punjabis in Germany

Punjab is one of the few states of India, which has experienced lot of emigration to countries outside India. For them, the popular destinations are USA, UK, Canada and Australia as most of their fellow migrants are already settled there and moreover English language spoken in these countries is not a problem unlike other foreign languages spoken in other countries of Europe like Germany, France, Switzerland and Belgium. The migrants from Punjab fall under different categories- skilled and unskilled workers, students, professionals, housewives, refugees and asylum seekers.

Going and settling down abroad is a status symbol for Punjabis among other reasons. In case they themselves do not manage to go abroad, then their next aim is to marry their children off to an NRI. Friends and relatives abroad or in Punjab play a key role in the matchmaking for marriages. The pull factor for Punjabi migrants abroad is so strong that they are ready to do any course, obtain any qualification, or even resign from their well-paid jobs in India to migrate to a developed country of their choice.

Not all migrants come directly to Germany. Some, particularly those who don’t have legal papers, move from one country to another and explore the different procedures of legalization and settlement there before finally deciding to halt at their final destination. Their illegal status however does not allow them to travel back to India, something which many migrants regret. This drives them to get the legal status of the country they are residing in as soon as possible, so that they can reunite with their families, whom they left behind in India. To obtain the legal documents, some even resort to fake marriages with the Germans in exchange of money. Those who come as single men in search of a better living try to find a German partner, some get married, and others live-in, but even these marriages or relations don’t succeed for a long time for most of the migrants, as conflicts take place due to differences in cultural and moral values. Many have succeeded in getting the permanent citizenship of Germany; however, some are still living as undocumented or illegal migrants there.

As compared to the illegal migrants, those with proper documents enjoy a better life socially, economically and politically. They maintain strong bonds with India and Indian relatives, visit India twice a year, take their children along, and make them acquainted with Punjabi tradition, are able to adjust easily in German society and are satisfied with their lives on the whole.

The pull factors for the Punjabi migrants in Germany are among others well paid jobs, better study and professional opportunities, good quality of life and education for self and for their children, better infrastructure, more social security, allowances and other benefits. The push factors on the other hand can be poverty, lack of good educational opportunities, tough competition in education sector, difficulty in finding suitable employment, rising prices and pressure from family to get the foreign tag.

Chain migration is the most common form of migration among the Punjabis as maintaining ethnic identity and being together with relatives and others from the same community is imperative for them abroad, because they facilitate easy migration through accuracy of information and even provide financial and physical support required in the new environment with respect to finding a house, job and so on. Even if they have no relatives abroad, the Punjabi migrants plan to settle at first with other Punjabis as Punjabi connection or affiliation to religion as well as language, dress and culture make them feel more comfortable in a foreign country like Germany.

The Gurudwaras also play a major role particularly in the initial adjustment and socialization of the newly arrived migrants. There are more than 28 Gurudwaras in Germany. As most of the Punjabi migrants come through the process of chain migration, they are helped by their relatives in the initial stages of settlement. However, those who come through an illegal route, or mostly alone, come to take shelter in Gurudwaras, do service there for a couple of months, develop contacts with other Punjabis and find a place of living and earning subsequently.

For all the generations of Punjabi migrants, the Gurudwaras play an important role; for instance, for the first generation, it is a place for get-together, for discussing the various aspects of Sikh Diaspora in Germany, for making plans to stay and bring together the Sikh community outside Punjab, for organizing different events and festivals, for understanding the problems faced by Sikh community and to take measures on the same, and for teaching Punjabi language and inculcating Punjabi cultural values in the next generation.

For the second and third generation, Gurudwaras are the major source of socialization after their immediate families and relatives abroad. Parents and grandparents make sure that the younger generation visits the nearby Gurudwara with them at least every Sunday, as this is the place which helps the young lot to maintain their religious and cultural values, where they learn Punjabi language and recite the prayer consciously, so that the Punjabi roots remain intact.

For Punjabis these countries of immigration are actually not strange or very different, as they find here other Punjabis, just the communities are new and there are other communities residing in the same area. We can say that only the language and cultural context is non-Punjabi for the Punjabi speaking migrants living in Germany. With growing number of Punjabi speaking community, one can observe the re-creation of their original traditions of family, religion and other customs in Germany. They have not only retained networks with their home town, but have further established contacts with overseas Indian communities.

3. Migrants and Language

3.1 Language Acquisition among Migrants

In the process of migration and integration language plays a major role. It is one of the important components of socialization because communication takes place in all the domains including family, education, work place and friend circle.

Language is one big change among others when one speaks of international migration. According to Grinberg and Grinberg (1989: 90), “All childhood experiences, memories and feelings about early object relations are connected to language. Special meanings become embedded in it.” Besides this, the entire thought process takes place in the mother tongue and it might be at times difficult for the immigrants to express their views or to translate some words appropriately according to the situation and context while conversing with the native citizens of the host country. Therefore “a new comer to a different environment must learn –at great cost- a new language that helps him communicate with others who are part of this reality.” (Grinberg and Grinberg 1989: 99).

The foreign language acquisition can facilitate intercultural understanding and exchange and the immigrants can thereby overcome the problem of understanding the natives of the host country and their intentions, if they are familiar with their verbal and nonverbal language.

Not knowing the language on the other hand may bring in feelings of isolation and alienation among the immigrants. Language deficits can further reduce their chances of getting an adequate job for themselves or to reach greater heights at the present job position. Moreover one cannot make use of one’s own knowledge and skills, if language acts as a constraint in proving them.

For children of immigrants, the foreign language, which they have not yet or not fully acquired, acts as a constraint thereby affecting their school performance and making them feel low and less competent as compared to the native children, for whom the same language is their mother tongue. Knowing the language on the other hand can strengthen them and build up their confidence for a better and improved life.

As Ochs (1996: 407) points out, “the acquisition of language and the acquisition of social and cultural competence are not developmentally independent processes, nor is one process a developmental prerequisite of the other. Rather, the two processes are intertwined from the moment a human being enters society.”

Thus, one can conclude that one doesn’t have to acquire language, social and cultural competence one after another, instead they all go hand in hand and if one has acquired the language, then one is also familiar with the cultural patterns and learns the social values of the society simultaneously.

But how much language and culture one learns and adopts and what one adopts first and what later depends on the purpose of migration for the migrants and the length of stay, whether it is a permanent stay or do they wish to return to their country after a few years. Further, their decision to integrate in the host society’s culture or retaining their values is a deciding factor for learning a new language and culture. Accordingly, one makes an effort to acquire the language and culture of the host country. Moreover, they need not follow together.

According to Fasold (1984: 1), people have the possibility of using different expressions of a language in different situations. When we talk of various possibilities, we are considering the multilingual speakers, who have more than one language at their disposal and can thus optimally use them depending on the context and the listener.

Multilingualism is not an exception in today’s modern era. A multilingual country is a country where people can speak more than one language and in which a section of the population uses a language which is considered to be different from the official language of the government. Considering the global world in which we live, no country is a monolingual country, unless we exclude the minority and immigrant as well as other non-official languages from the official language or languages spoken in these countries. Going by this statement even Germany is not a monolingual country as number of minority and immigrant groups live together with the monolingual German language speakers in Germany.

Fasold (1984: 8) believes that in multilingual societies, all the languages have been given a particular role and are used accordingly in various formal and informal contexts. In other words, a multilingual person switches from one language to another in different contexts. Important is then to look for factors which decide which language is to be used when and with whom.

Variation in how people use language depends on the following four motivations according to Meyerhoff (2011: 27): “a desire to show how you fit in with some people and are different from others; a desire to do things that have value in the community; a desire not to do things that are looked down in the community and a desire to work out how others are orienting themselves to the above-mentioned concerns.”

This states the fact that choosing a language in various settings is a conscious effort on part of the speaker and a well thought of process, which I think is also easier if one is familiar with the intricacies of the languages involved. For the immigrants, who hail from small towns and villages and are just familiar with their dialects, not even with the official language of their country, or with the global language English, the variation or switching cannot come in question in a new formal setting with unfamiliar language of the host country.

According to Fasold (1984: 1), “there is a critical function that language serves for its users. It is obvious that language is supposed to be used for transmitting information and thoughts from one person to another. At the same time, however, the speaker is using language to make statements about who she is, what her group loyalties are, how she perceives her relationship to her hearer, and what sort of speech event she considers herself to be engaged in.”

One can further draw strong inferences about people from the way they talk and our attitudes to different varieties of a language highlight the way we perceive individuals using those varieties. There is considerable variation in the language and the speakers are constantly using the different possibilities available to them, thereby exploiting the various functions of a language at different times with different users. As a result, people, who speak different languages, must find a common language of communication while conversing with others. This is where code-switching comes into play.

3.2 Ethnic- versus Host Society’s Language

“The role that language plays in nationalism is what Fishman calls ‘contrastive self-identification’ and Garvin and Mathiot (1956) call the ‘unifying and separatist functions’. These terms refer to the feeling of the members of a nationality that they are united and identified with others who speak the same language, and contrast with and are separated from those who do not. For Fasold, the notions of unification and separation go deeper than the simple fact that it is difficult to communicate with people who speak a different language. A person can be bilingual and have good control of a second language and still feel ‘unified’ with speakers of his first language and ‘separated’ from speakers of his second language.” (Fasold 1984: 3)

This feeling can also come in migrants settled in Germany, where they feel at ease and comfortable with their mother tongue and unattached or unconnected with the German language. This unease with the new language comes partly from the attitudes of the speakers, partly from the prevailing social, political and economic conditions of the host country, partly from the existing stereotypes, discrimination and other negative feelings of hatred on part of the host society and partly because of the psychological well-being of the migrant and feelings of isolation in the new environment. Minority language speakers thus shift to bilingualism in their new settlement area, where they use their mother tongue for certain purposes while talking among themselves, while they use the language of the dominant group for communication and social interaction with the dominant group members in the host society.

“The relationship between the minority and majority languages in the development of bilingualism not only reflects the developmental and institutional status of the languages concerned but it also shows the status and power of particular language groups. This may create controversial issues in the use of two languages in education. On the one hand, the mother tongue education of the minority children is considered essential for maintenance of minority languages and cultures and for promoting educational equity and linguistic human rights for minority groups. On the other hand, there is resistance to institutionalization of minority languages partly from the point of view of unity and partly because of the pressure of monolingual policies.” (Dua 2008: 39)


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iv, accessed on 18.06.14

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Socio-Linguistic And Socio-Cultural Aspects Of Punjabi Indian Migrants Living In Germany
Jawaharlal Nehru University
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socio-linguistic, socio-cultural, aspects, punjabi, indian, migrants, living, germany
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Jyoti Sharma (Author), 2014, Socio-Linguistic And Socio-Cultural Aspects Of Punjabi Indian Migrants Living In Germany, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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